Cursed Films - Season 1, Episode 2: The Omen TV Episode Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Premiered on Shudder

cursed films s01 poster large

Written and directed by Jay Cheel
2020, 28 minutes, Not Rated
Premiered on Shudder on April 9th, 2020

Richard Donner as Himself
Mace Neufeld as Himself
Phil Nobile, Jr. as Himself
Nate Bales as Himself
Tony Burke as Himself

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When I was a kid, no movie fascinated me more than Richard Donner’s horror staple, The Omen. It’s a classic for a variety of reasons, and all those reasons apply, but what really got inside my head was how strongly my very religious family spoke of it. They said it was a bad idea just to watch it. They said that a lot of people who made the movie died or very narrowly avoided death. Hell, my Nanny nearly stroked out on my mother for going to see it in theaters while pregnant with my older brother; she said that would “mark him”. I’m not kidding you.

This episode really helped me to understand why my family spoke of the movie in such a way. It also helped me to understand its cultural impact and authenticity.

Episode Three of Cursed Films takes us back to 1976 to speak with the man himself, Richard Donner (Superman, Lethal Weapon), as well the film’s executive producer, Mace Neufeld (Beverly Hills Cop III), about the abundance of strange events surrounding the seminal film about the birth of the Antichrist. If you don’t know the story (and I certainly didn’t know about all these things), it’s an eye opener that’ll make you ask how many times it takes for coincidence to be something more sinister.

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How does that quote from Ian Fleming (author of the James Bond novels) go? “Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.” That’s the perfect quote for understanding why The Omen has the reputation that it does amongst cursed films. The staggering number of accidents and disasters is truly hard to ignore. Honestly, it kind of blew my mind. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, do yourself a favor and don’t look it up. Just go in blind.

As the episode progresses, however, we’re introduced to a professor of religious studies, a witch, and even a couple of black magicians to examine the nature of a curse and how they’re supposed to work. They make compelling arguments that completely subvert the argument of The Omen being a cursed film while giving you an inside perspective of the truth that many people (like some folks in my family) don’t want to see about the reality of black magic and the existence of devils and demons. It goes deeper than you’d expect, especially for the runtime.

It’s impactful having a directing legend like Richard Donner (along with the top producer on the film) showing up throughout the episode. Cursed Films is giving you much more than a watered-down horror version of VH1’s I Love the Eighties with semi-amusing assholes spouting bad jokes – it treats the material with the reverence it deserves. That’s what will resonate most strongly with horror fans. It damn sure does with me.

There’s even a fun little segment with a “professional skeptic” that made me chuckle, even if it doesn’t totally fit the narrative or really prove anything. While the argument he presents could easily be used in a million different scenarios, it kind of summarizes the approach that Jay Cheel and the folks at Shudder are taking in their Cursed Films series: they want you to that there’s more than one side to every story, and they want you to dive deep even after the episode is over.

Mission accomplished.

FUNNY PERSONAL SIDE STORY: I took my (then) four-year-old daughter to her first horror convention: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2008. It’s late in the day, and the enthusiastic toddler is now grouchy, tired, and hungry. We’re approached by none other than Damien Thorne himself, Harvey Stephens, who tells us how cute she is and that his daughter has the same name! He offers to take a picture with us. My irritable toddler doesn’t want to comply. SHE TURNED DOWN A PICTURE WITH DAMIEN! I’m still legitimately pissed at her about this.

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Episode: 4.5 Star Rating Cover
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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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