Omen III: The Final Conflict (also released as simply The Final Conflict) is a 1981 supernatural horror film directed by Graham Baker. It is the third installment in The Omen series. Starring Sam Neill, Lisa Harrow and Rossano Brazzi, the film tells the progression of the now adult Damien Thorn to a position of earthly power, set against the countdown to the Second Coming and attempts of a group of priests to kill the Antichrist. The film was released in theatres on March 20, 1981.
Following the grisly suicide of the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, 32-year-old international conglomerate CEO Damien Thornis appointed in his place, an office his adoptive father, Robert Thorn, once held. Having fully embraced his unholy lineage and having run his company for seven years, Damien now attempts to reshape his destiny by halting the Second Coming of Christ. However, Father DeCarlo, a priest from the Subiaco monastery where Father Spiletto spent his final days and who has observed Damien from afar since his adopted father’s death, acquires the Seven Daggers of Megiddo that were dug out of the ruins of the Thorn Museum in Chicago. Joined by six other priests, DeCarlo plans to kill Damien while finding the Christ child. Meanwhile, Damien becomes romantically involved with journalist Kate Reynolds. Learning of his assassins and killing all but DeCarlo over time, he proceeds to mold Reynolds’s young son Peter into a disciple by playing on the boy’s desire for a father figure.
After the alignment of stars in the Cassiopeia constellation on March 24, 1981, generating what is described as a second Star of Bethlehem, Damien realizes that it is a sign of the Second Coming and orders his followers to kill all boys born in England on the morning of March 24, 1981 to prevent the Christ’s return to power. A week after a string of 31 infant deaths, Reynolds encounters DeCarlo and he reveals Damien’s true identity to her while giving her evidence of the murders. The next night during sex, Damien sodomizes Reynolds. The following morning she discovers Damien’s birthmark.
Damien tells Peter to follow DeCarlo, resulting in Damien learning that his advisor, Harvey Dean, had concealed the date of his son’s birth when Peter reports that DeCarlo visited Dean’s wife Barbara and revealed her husband’s role in the infant murders. Dean refuses to kill his son and makes preparations to flee the country, only to return home and be killed by his wife, who has fallen under Damien’s control and murdered their child.
DeCarlo later visits Reynolds and reveals that Peter is now under Damien’s influence and that the real Christ child is now beyond Damien’s reach. Agreeing to help DeCarlo, Reynolds tricks Damien with the promise to bring him to the church ruins where the Christ child is in exchange for Peter. The plan backfires when Damien spots DeCarlo first and uses Peter as a human shield against the dagger. As Peter dies in his mother’s arms, Damien throttles Father DeCarlo before calling out for Christ to appear before him and “face him”. This leaves Damien open to be stabbed in the back by Reynolds using DeCarlo’s Megiddo dagger. As Damien staggers through the courtyard and collapses, a vision of Christ appears in the archway above him. Damien scolds Christ for thinking he has won, and then dies. DeCarlo reappears carrying Peter’s body and hands him to a praying Kate before they leave the ruins.
- Sam Neill as Damien Thorn
- Lisa Harrow as Kate Reynolds
- Rossano Brazzi as Father DeCarlo
- Don Gordon as Harvey Pleydell Dean
- Barnaby Holm as Peter Reynolds
- Leueen Willoughby as Barbara Dean
- Marc Boyle as Brother Benito
- Milos Kirek as Brother Martin
- Tommy Duggan as Brother Matteus
- Louis Mahoney as Brother Paulo
- Richard Oldfield as Brother Simeon
- Tony Vogel as Brother Antonio
- Hugh Moxey as Butler
- Mason Adams as U.S. President
- Robert Arden as U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain
- Ruby Wax (uncredited) as U.S. Ambassador’s secretary
- Hazel Court (uncredited) as champagne woman at hunt
Sam Neill, at that point early in his career, was cast in the role of Damien Thorn. Rossano Brazzi was cast as Father DeCarlo. Producer Harvey Bernhard plays the Ambassador’s press secretary.
The evening party scene was filmed in Brocket Hall, just outside London, which also substituted as Damien’s residence. Kate, Damien, and Peter walk from Hyde Park to Speakers Corner. This scene was shot in the summer in the rain and dampness of London. The Moors sequence was shot in Cornwall including Roche Rock with added visuals for the lightning. The Disciples Of The Watch sequence was shot at around 4–5 am in one night in the Yorkshire Moors. The finale was shot at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. “Shooting here was very cold and very eerie,” according to Graham Baker’s commentary on the DVD. University of London Observatory in Mill Hill, London (identified as “Hendon” in Baker’s commentary) substituted for the Fernbank Observatory for The Second Coming sequence.
The crew did not go back to Subiaco to film the exterior location of the monastery as in the first film as it only appears in two scenes in this film. They just used footage from the first film. Stock footage from The Omen was also used when the Ambassador, who kills himself at the beginning of the film, walks to the United States Embassy. The footage of the White House featured in the film was taken from Superman II, subtracting the visual effects.
Lisa Harrow said one of the most difficult sequences to shoot for the film was the death of the first priest in the television studio where her character Kate Reynolds interviews Damien. It took over two weeks to get right. It is considered one of the nastiest mainstream movie deaths, involving a priest burning to death whilst trapped in melting plastic sheets. The scene where Barbara saw a vision of her baby burned/dead was shot on slate 666 and the camera jammed according to director Graham Baker. Stuntman Vic Armstrong performed the backwards one-hundred-foot fall from the bridge. In Guinness World Records 2005, he described it as the most frightening stunt of his career. Most of his falls were less than seventy feet.
Like Damien: Omen II, in order for the story to be enacted to its “present day” setting, the series timeline required substantial retconing once more, moving events from the first two movies back further in time. This allowed Thorn, a child in 1976 and a teen in 1978, to be an adult by 1981. The following sequel, Omen IV: The Awakening would follow the third movie’s timeline.
The score to The Final Conflict was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who had also composed the Academy Award winning music for The Omen and its sequel Damien: Omen II. The score was performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Lionel Newman (who also conducted the scores for the previous two movies).
True to the style of his first two scores, Goldsmith used an orchestral/choral blend with light electronic elements to create the film’s sound, though unlike the soundtrack to Damien, The Final Conflict makes no pronounced reference to the original Omen theme “Ave Satani”, which had earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in 1976. Instead, Goldsmith composed an all-new theme for the character of Damien introduced during the opening credits which emphasized robust tragedy over the more horrific sound of its prequel scores. Goldsmith also composed a new theme for the rebirth of Christ first introduced at the end of “Main Title” and later given full Romantic treatment with orchestra and choir at the film’s climax in “The Final Conflict”.
The score has been released twice on album though Varèse Sarabande: first in 1986, featuring thirteen tracks of score at a running time just over forty-eight minutes; and an expanded version on 9 September 2001, which features fifteen tracks of score at a running time of just under sixty-three minutes.
When first released in 1981, the film’s original official title was simply The Final Conflict. Later, the title was adjusted to Omen III: The Final Conflict in order to accentuate its link to the other two films in the cycle.
In Germany and Hungary, the film was released as Barbara’s Baby, a play on the title Rosemary’s Baby. This title also appeared on some posters in many countries before the eventual title was announced.
In 1991, a sequel, Omen IV: The Awakening, was produced for television in a failed attempt by 20th Century Fox to revive the films as a horror franchise in the style of Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.