FRIDAY NIGHT FIEND: DAMIEN THORN aka THE ANTICHRIST

RemakeDamienI haven’t made a big deal of it but it’s October. If you follow this blog—and we both know you do—you know that October means my wife has 31 damn days of unfettered access to the TV, movies, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, Pookie and Nem’s Video Rental and Lingerie Emporium to showcase her love of scary movies. Since I’ve never really been a fan of horror flicks, I’ve generally called this month Ballstober—the 31 days where I tighten up that sphincter and watch whatever she puts on TV.

And as much shit as I talk about my disdain for these travesties of cinema, there are a couple that I dig, like The Thing and Alien. And there are some that traumatized me as a kid like the Amityville Horror or The Exorcist. And then there’s The Omen series.  That’s some whole other shit.

The Omen is a trilogy of movies that chronicle the birth and rise to power of the Anti-Christ in the guise of Damien Thorn. And for the record, I’m talking about the original movies with Gregory Peck and Lee Rennick, not the one with Julia Stiles (I keep waiting for the black dude from Save The Last Dance to jump in) and Sabretooth from the Wolverine movie. And I don’t usually give spoilers but I’m gonna ruin this shit.

I’m gonna assume you know the deal: Mr. and Mrs. Thorn (I don’t remember their real names) have a beautiful baby boy under some “interesting” circumstances and then decide to name him Damien—which means “y’all fixin to die” in Common Sense. Things are alright until creepy shit starts to happen: at my man’s second or third birthday party, the maid hangs herself AT THE PARTY! There are kids and shit, cake and clowns, and this chick jumps out the window with a bedsheet around her neck, talking about “It’s all for you!” That ain’t all. Animals, like zoo animals, REALLY don’t like little man. Really don’t like him. Big, black rotweilers just show up. And so does Mia Farrow (but that might be the new one)—whatever, then a creepy new housekeeper shows up and she buys a dog that doesn’t like Mr. Thorn. Oh, and then they try to take the boy to church and he completely loses his shit.

Shenanigans ensue, the boy kills his mama, priests get involved and try to warn Mr. Thorn. A reporter starts looking into who Damien is. Come to find out the Thorns’ real baby died, Mr. Thorn steals another child whose mama happens to be a jackal (yes, I said jackal), and my man has to kill the boy with some special Ginsu knives. Old Mr. Thorn doesn’t believe this supernatural nonsense until someone says, “Yeah, well the boy has to have a mark on him. You know that Mark of the Beast? That 666? Gotta be on the kid somewhere.” And, after cutting away some hair in the middle of the night, there it is.

Let me pause right here. I was sooooo engrossed in this movie as a kid that I got up right then, went into the bathroom to see if I had the that 666 in my own scalp. And, truth be told, I’ve checked the Honey Badger too. Twice. I’m still not wholly convinced. Anyway, the plan to kill the boy goes wrong, Mr. Thorn gets shot by the police and Damien’s smiling, sadistic little ass goes to live with his aunt and uncle.

That’s just the first movie. In that movie, Damien was really just along for the ride. He was too young to do anything so there were significant agents (i.e. dogs, ravens, cranes that cut people’s heads off) operating on his behalf. In the second movie, though, my man comes into his own: he discovers who and what he is and embraces it. This one is actually my favorite but there is one image that will live with me forever.

See, I’m from Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes. Truth is, it’s more like 15,000 lakes. And not all of them are marked. We always knew winter had truly arrived when the news reported some idiot snowmobiling over an unmarked lake before it was cold enough, falling in, and freezing/drowning. It was one of those PSAs you just come to know because of where you live. As a result, I’ve always been a little scared of lakes in the winter (THIS, and the fact that I am a Black man, are why I never go ice-fishing and never learned how to ice-skate). In Damien: The Omen II, there is a scene where this guy falls through the ice during a hockey game and they watch him die. It’s FUCKED UP! Once Damien decided he was comfortable being the Anti-Christ (he did have a moment of doubt), he killed his cousin by crushing his brain by looking at him and set his aunt and uncle on fire.

By the time we get to The Omen III: The Final Conflict, Damien is running for president. And winning. In fear of the Second Coming of Christ, my man has all the boys in England born on a certain date killed, slaughters a group of priests and uses a small boy as a human shield. It isn’t until he calls Jesus out personally that Damien is finally stopped. This movie bothered me so bad I didn’t want to watch Jurassic Park because Sam Neill was in it.

And this wasn’t helping…

When the Jews return to Zion

And a comet rips the sky

And the Holy Roman Empire rises,

Then you and I must die.

From the eternal sea he rises,

Creating armies on either shore,

Turning man against his brother

‘Til man exists no more.

That’s it! Provided I get over this sinus infection, I’ll catch you Tuesday.

Celebration of Wickedness Day 13: LUCIFER

Oh goody goody goody! It’s Friday the 13th and today’s master of madness, vicar of villainy is the original Adversary, the only soul dastardly enough to challenge God, start a war, tear down Heaven and still pull a third of the angels with him. Today, we’re talking Lucifer. Today, we’re talking Satan.

Satan.

The bar against which all villains are measured. The barometer for how truly evil your antagonist is.

You know this story already, right? Lucifer is the angel who was so beautiful, so beloved, but becomes jealous and filled with pride and launches a rebellion that breaks Heaven apart. This angel—this angel—caused such an issue that Hell exists because of him. That thing you fear at night, that thing you see out the corner of your eye but isn’t there when you stare directly at it, that place churches warn you about, all that’s because of him. We actually have villains at all because of this guy.

In every incarnation we’ve seen, Lucifer has accepted his lot in life and has carte blanche to do as he pleases within some unwritten, unspoken set of rules. In Constantine, he came to exact some semblance of justice against Gabriel the Archangel. With the Ghost Rider, he exists simply to bargain for souls that are due to him. He appears as a dog or a raven or an unseen force just to advance Damien’s cause in The Omen. Everyone seems to talk around who he actually is.

I believe there’s more. There has to be more.

I really thought a lot about this cat—so much so I wrote a whole book about him (which happens to be free for about 20 more minutes—I know, I know, shameless plug). Lucifer is the beginning of evil, the dawn of darkness—he challenged God, made Adam and Eve fall, and had the gall to tempt Jesus Christ. No matter how complex, how hateful, how intense you think your villain is, they cannot compare to Lucifer.

Because no one wants what he wants.

Think about it. We write terrestrial villains, maybe galactic ones. We invent characters that fantasize about running a company, building an empire, dominating a planet, ruling a galaxy. This guy wants to be God. And he sincerely believes he can do it. And he thinks he can do it alone. That kind of character deserves introspection, analysis, discovery. I spent a lot of time with Lucifer in my head, whispering in my ear, standing beside my bed (that’s another story all together). I learned a lot about what might make something like him tick. What might crawl beneath his skin.

No matter what we think about our villains, we have to understand them. We have to know why they do what they do, what they are actually after. And, as writers, we have to root for them. No matter how dark, how detestable, how horrid their actions or their worldviews are, we have to champion them.

I could give you more but I wrote a whole book about it. You should check it out.