The Omen | 1976
- DIRECTOR |
- Richard Donner
The Omen locations include brief visits to Rome (at the beginning) and Israel (to visit Bugenhagen(Leo McKern)), but most of the film is shot in the UK.
The exterior of the hospital, where the baby is switched, is Rome, sure enough, but the interior is the office of Shepperton Studio, Studios Road, Shepperton in southwest London (which you might recognise as the interior of the O'Connell house in Stephen Sommers' The Mummy Returns).
Before things start to get nasty, young spawn-of-Satan Damien and his family enjoy a day out on Parliament Hill, part of Hampstead Heath near Highgate, north London.
US Ambassador Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) is ensconced, naturally, at the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, in the heart of Belgravia, SW1, where he is confronted by crazy priest Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton, TV’s second Doctor Who). That really is the office of the US Ambassador, filmed in less security-conscious times.
Father Brennan spouts (fake) passages from the Book of Revelations alongside the River Thames in Bishop's Park, in Fulham, southwest London.
His nearby church, where he gets spiked by the lightning conductor, is All Saints Church, Fulham, which is actually on the north side of Putney Bridge.
Meanwhile, Damien is beginning to betray his diabolical leanings by throwing a major wobbly arriving at Guildford Cathedral, Surrey, and upsetting the monkeys at Windsor Safari Park, which closed in 1992. The site, just outside Windsor, is now the Legoland theme park.
The palatial home of the US Ambassador, supposedly on ‘Seven Hills Road’, is Pyrford Court, Pyrford (which, at the time, was the deserted Guinness estate), a couple of miles east of Woking in Surrey. A private home, it’s well hidden behind a thick screen of trees and not visible from the road. You can, though, see the elaborate gatehouse, The Bothy, out of which Ambassador Thorn makes his final desperate drive, on the south side of Pyrford Common Road near Upshot Lane.
Pyrford had previously been used as the home of arrogant businessman Ralph Jason (Richard Greene) in the fourth segment (the one based on WW Jacobs’ The Monkey’s Paw) of 1972 Amicus horror compendium Tales From The Crypt.
After suffering a fall in her home, Katherine Thorn (Lee Remick) recuperates in Northwick Park Hospital, Watford Road in Harrow, northwest London.
Together, Thorn and photographer Jennings (David Warner) visit Rome to uncover more of Damien’s origins. The exterior of the monastery, where they talk to Father Spiletto (Martin Benson) really is in the Italian countryside outside Rome, but the interior was St Mary-at-Lambeth, a deconsecrated church alongside Lambeth Palace (official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury) on Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1. The church has since been converted into the Garden Museum, and there is a reason for this.
Don’t be confused by the Director’s Commentary on the DVD which claims that Christopher Wren is buried in the churchyard (he’s still, as far as I know, in the Crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral). The grounds are the last resting place of John Tradescant (1570-1638), the first great gardener and plant-hunter in British history. His magnificent tomb is now the centrepiece of a knot garden, planted with the flowers which would have grown in his London garden four centuries ago. Admiral William Bligh, the captain of HMS Bounty during the famous mutiny, is also buried here.
The church, in which Thorn is finally thwarted after being convinced of the diabolical origins of young Damien, is St Peter's, Laleham Road, Staines, Surrey.
In the creepy final scene, Damien attends the funeral of the Ambassador at the American Military Cemetery section of Brookwood Cemetery, Cemetery Pales, Brookwood, Surrey – once the country’s largest cemetery.
Fans of the horror genre might want to know that buried in Brookwood is Dr Robert Knox, the Edinburgh anatomist who was provided with bodies for dissection by notorious graverobbers-turned-murderers Burke and Hare. The cemetery also contains the ashes of author Dennis Wheatley, whose works include The Devil Rides Out.