The Movie: 'The Omen' (1976)
The Scene: After his newborn son dies shortly after childbirth, Ambassador Robert Thorn secretly adopts an orphan child and poses it as his own; it appears everything will work out for the Thorns and their new son -- Damien. However, strange events begin occurring to the people around Damien, indicating that the orphan boy may in fact be the biblical Antichrist. The prophetic doom starts on Damien's fifth birthday, when his nanny (Holly Palance) enters into a hypnotic daze, shortly after coming across a stray Rottweiler. Afterward, she decides to give Damien the only birthday present you can give to the demonic creature that will bring about the end of days.
Why It's Iconic: The nanny's demise is only the first of many vicious on-screen deaths, all brought on by mysterious twists of fate that may or may not be the doing of the innocent-looking Damien, or one of his demonic followers. Furthermore, with the original nanny out of the way, it allows for the Thorns to hire Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw), a creepy caregiver who is so devoted to Damien, that she is willing to commit murder.
But above all else, 'The Omen' still stands as one of the most foreboding scary movies of all time. Its suspense builds and builds, always laying new horrors at the feet of the Thorn family. When the nanny crashes into the glass, it also shatters the eerily quiet calm that surrounds Damien. From this moment on, no one will ever be safe again.
Imitators/Flatterers: 'The Omen' was just the first installment in the Damien Thorn film series. 'The Omen' was followed by two theatrical sequels, a TV movie and two more additional novels. Then there was a mediocre remake in 2006, which attempted to recreate the nanny suicide scene, but lacked the unsettling horror of the moment. One element of 'The Omen' series that has remained chillingly captivating is Jerry Goldsmith's Oscar-winning score and the terrifying track, 'Ave Satani.'
'The Omen' also capped off an odd trilogy of satanic child movies, following 'Rosemary's Baby' and 'The Exorcist.' Since then, popular entertainment has loved toying with the idea that the devil's offspring would come in the form of a cute-looking kid -- even getting parodied on a classic episode of 'South Park.'