Wednesday, 19 October 2016

#Halloween A Mini Tour of Horror Movie #London No.2: The Omen

From the archive: DC Editor Adam writes… with 13 days to go to Halloween, we're hard at work preparing for our annual festival of London Ghost tours – all four London Walks ghost tours go out on Halloween. To mark the season, I've been digging around in the Halloween archive and today I'll be sharing three self-guided mini tours of horror movie locations in London. Earlier I looked at 28 Days Later, and I'm continuing here with The Omen. And when you scroll down to the bottom of the post you'll find the new NEW London Walks Halloween Podcast and all the details of our Halloween ghost tours…


A Horror Movie Mini-Tour of London No.2 The Omen (1976)



SPOILER ALERT! SPOILERS AHEAD! D.C Editor Adam writes…


I finally caught up with the 2006 remake of the horror classic The Omen the other night. A well performed remake with a number of big frights, faithful to the original almost to the point of being slavish, it was an enjoyable Halloween treat, mostly. From a London-spotting point of view, however, the experience was something of a dud with the movie being shot in Prague. Boo!


The 1976 original – with the commanding Gregory Peck in the lead role – teems with London locations. 


Written by David Seltzer and directed by Richard Donner, the film sees Peck play Robert Thorne the U.S Ambassador to the Court of St James. When his wife – played by the excellent Lee Remick –  gives birth to a stillborn child in Rome, Thorne does a deal with the hospital chaplain to swap the dead child for a newborn orphan. Little does he know that the child is the Antichrist…

Here's the trailer…



In terms of London locations, we kick off with the obligatory shot of Big Ben (I've been discussing this in my ongoing series of posts The Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London) as Peck's diplomatic car (back in the day when there was no congestion charge for the U.S Ambassador to dodge!) sails through Parliament Square.



Grosvenor Square features prominently – and the film makers seem to have enjoyed a degree of access to the U.S Embassy that would be unheard of in our high security climate today.





The U.S Embassy is due to move to Nine Elms in South London within the next two years. The current building, the work of Eero Saarinen's (see also the TWA Flight Center at JFK airport) a Grade II listed structure, will be turned into flats. One of which will, presumably, enjoy this view…






And if it ever comes up in a pub quiz, the large gilded eagle atop the embassy building has a wingspan of 35 feet…




Lovely Bishop's Park down by the Thames in Fulham is the location for the not-so-lovely scene with Robert Thorne confronted by agitated priest Father Brennan (memorably played by Patrick Troughton). Brennan urges Thorne to kill his child for the sake of mankind.


Gregory Peck by the Thames in the Omen


The location today in its spooky wintry plumage
Bishop's Park was opened in 1893, and is also home to a monument commemorating the International Brigade… 





SPOILER ALERT! SCROLL BACK IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE!



It is at nearby All Saints Church, Fulham, under a raging sky with the sound and special effects departments working overtime, that Brennan meets his gruesome end.





The tower at All Saints was commenced in the 1440's but for the most part the building dates from the 19th century. Among the starry cast list in the graveyard we find the wonderfully named Humphrey Henchman who was Lord Mayor of London during a tumultuous period of real life City horrors – the Great Plague and the Great Fire.



The scene (pictured) would be a gruesomely dramatic climax to any horror movie. Here, it merely marks the end of act one… there's far worse to come. Little wonder that this nearly-40-year-old film is regarded by horror fans as one of the greatest of all time.



When we next come back to this mini-series, we will retain our distinct U.S flavour with An American Werewolf in London.


What's your favourite horror movie for Halloween? Leave a comment below or drop us a line.



The NEW London Walks Halloween Podcast is here;







A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.









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