First published back in May of 1978, Joseph Howard
s novelisation of the film ‘Damien: Omen II’ was adapted from the screenplay by Stanley Mann and Michael Hodges and formed the sequel to David Seltzer’s original ‘The Omen’ (1976).  

DLS Synopsis:
In the dusty heat of Israel, archaeologist Carl Bugenhagen has been exploring an excavation, hoping to prove the existence of the Devil.  Here, in the confined tunnels under the scorched surface of Israel, he examines Yigael’s Wall – in particular Yigael’s depiction of Satan.  And there he sees a face that he recognises.  However, when he shows Yigael’s image of the Anti-Christ to his sceptical friend, Michael Morgan, an avalanche of stone and dirt comes crashing down upon the two of them – burying them alive in the depths of their underground tomb.  Neither Bugenhagen nor Morgan were able to warn others of the face they saw.  The face of the Anti-Christ.  The face of Damien Thorn.

Following his father’s untimely death, Damien Thorn’s rich and powerful uncle, Richard Thorn, brought the young boy into his own family, adopting him as his own.  Now, seven years later and Damien is almost thirteen-years-old and had adjusted well to his new family.  Since Damien joined their family, Richard’s own son, Mark Thorn, had taken to him, and the family unit seemed complete.  However, Aunt Marion Thorn, wasn’t happy with Damien’s presence in the family.  She believed that Damien and Mark didn’t belong together.  That Damien was a bad influence on the impressionable young Mark and that they shouldn’t be spending so much time together.  A view that was beginning to cause rifts in the family.  But it was a view that would soon die away with the old woman.

But even in her last act, Marion Thorn had proved to be a terrible inconvenience to Richard Thorn.  Nevertheless, Thorn’s high-profile work with The Thorn Industries must go on.  And then whilst on his way to a flight with the Secretary of State, Thorn is accosted by reporter Joan Hart who had been Michael Morgan’s fiancé.  And it’s not long into the conversation before Hart attempts to tell Thorn about Bugenhagen and Morgan’s deaths.  But emotions quickly boil over, and Hart’s attempts at warning Thorn fall on deaf ears.

Nearby, the curator for the Thorn Museum, Charles Warren, has imported Yigael’s Wall all the way from Belvoir.  And so following her failed attempt at warning Thorn, Hart makes her way to the museum in the hope of getting Ann Thorn to view the wall and therefore see Yigael’s depiction of the Anti-Christ – the image of Damien Thorn.  However before she can, Richard Thorn warns Ann off and another of Hart’s desperate attempts fails.

Meanwhile, Damien’s thirteenth birthday has arrived and the Thorn’s are putting on quite a celebration.  And with Damien now entering the first years of adulthood, the young boy’s true heritage begins to emerge from deep within him.  The Anti-Christ is waking to his destiny…

DLS Review:
Adapted from the screenplay
by Stanley Mann and Michael Hodges, of Don Taylor’s movie sequel ‘Damien: Omen II’ (1978), as you would probably guess, Joseph Howard’s novelisation is very closely linked to the film.  And indeed, there are only a very few differences between the two – most notably with the added importance and involvement of the character of Joan Hart.  Hart’s role in the novel has certainly increased, and with Hart now playing a far more vital and expanded role, her (inevitable) death has a far greater impact than the film did; kicking up the smouldering embers of the evil that Damien is gradually awakening to.

During the first third of the novel the pacing is far slower than it was with the initial few chapters of ‘The Omen’ (1976).  Indeed, Howard spends a largely disproportionate amount of time putting Damien, as well as the various characters involved in the tale, all into their respective places in order to set the scene for Damien’s eventual realisation of his true heritage.  The result is chapter after chapter of Thorn family issues, seemingly random acts of tragedy, all alongside Hart’s desperate attempts to warn them of who Damien really is.

However, once the reader has trudged through the detailed backdrop for the plot, and the characters are thoroughly established, the tension and mounting evil soon starts to take its hold on the course of the story, and from here the novel becomes one hell of a page turner.

Expect all the same twists and turns as were in the film (with the odd tweak or slight addition), all of which are given a slightly more character driven perspective, which is a luxury afforded through the written format.  At times Howard does take advantage of this aspect, but nowhere near as much as he perhaps should have – which is a real shame.

The novelisation is tight and concise (well – after the first fifty to sixty pages that is), with a good strong structure to keeping the overall pace going.  In particular, the final third of the book tears along with a similar (but admittedly not quite as powerful) evil menace as the first book had.

As a novelisation the book shows how well a screenplay can be adapted.  It does miss out on really utilising much of a ‘behind-the-characters-eyes’ perspective; only really duplicating what the film portrayed with a minimal attempt at expanding upon it.  Nevertheless, the latter two-thirds of the book still make for one hell of a read.

The novel runs for a total of 192 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Omen’ instalments:

Make a free website with Yola