Happy Canada Day / The Omen (1976) on Blu-Ray

July 1st means two things up here:

1) Happy Canada Day!

2) Where the heck did June go?

This isn’t even a reference to the weird spring we’ve been having in T.O. (although complaining/obsessing over the weather may well be more Canadian than hockey, hence our ability to craft the Ultimate Weather System Gizmo for NASA's current Mars polar mission); spring’s long done, summer’s in progress, and July is basically the midpoint that precedes the season’s hot and humid denouement prior to TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival), the end of which signals summer is over, and fall has just begun.

Translation: enjoy the season, because if you thought June was fast, Just Wait.

On a different front, The Digital Bits reported June 27th that Fox will be releasing the original 1976 Omen on Blu-Ray as a single release and as part of a boxed set, replicating extras on the standard DVD versions, plus a few new goodies, including Jerry Goldsmith’s isolated score for the 1976 film (a feature originally on the special edition laserdisc, but consistently left off every DVD release), plus a new a commentary track with Jeff Bond, Nick Redman, and Lem Dobbs (the latter billed as a co-historian, which is funny, because I swear in another life he wrote Kafka, Dark City, and The Limey).

SRP for The Omen (1976) will be $39.98, and the mega-box $129.98. The boxed set will apparently contain The Omen, Damien: Omen II, The Final Conflict, and the utterly unnecessary 2006 remake – but there’s no mention of the Omen IV TV movie (awful as it is) released in the 2006 standard DVD boxed set, which means if it's been left out (What? Not enough SPACE on any of the Blu-Ray discs?), then you’ll have to hold onto the current boxed set (which itself replaced an older boxed set, reviewed HERE and HERE), or wait until there's the Ultimate Omen Anniversary Super Apocalypse Limited Edition).

This of course begs one to ask whether the announced new set is worth buying on Blu-Ray, because it’s not complete, and is much more expensive. The current 6-disc Omen set retails for less than $39; why pay $129?

Moreover, there’s the issue of the two sequels and whether these will be new transfers, or the same ones ported over from the standard DVDs.

Like the original Omen, Damien: Omen II was originally in mono and could use a true 5.1 mix, but while Final Conflict was released in 2.0 Surround, the current DVD sports the same faulty Pro Logic mix that cuts into plain stereo during Goldsmith’s most vibrant cue, The Fox Hunt. (Just play the preceding scenes in Pro Logic, and when the Fox Hunt sequence begins, you’ll notice the audio isn’t being properly decoded. It's a flaw that was present on the old laserdisc, and really, REALLY should be fixed if the Blu-Ray set is to have any merit.)

Lastly, the real missing link in the Omen series is the TV pilot which barely anyone's seen, and would make for a great bonus, since it hasn't been rebroadcast since its one-time airing in 1995.

End point: unless Omens 2 and 3 will be robust new transfers with more dynamic audio mixes, you're probably better off getting the Blu-Ray for Omen 1, and spending your savings on the current 6-disc set which you can upconvert using a capable player. Studios need to understand the jump to a new format must be affordable, much in the way Warner Bros. priced their Blade Runner 5-disc Blu-Ray edition just a smidge above the 4-disc standard DVD release. Sure, it's one film, but the Omen films are back catalogue titles, and $129 is pretty steep if there's nothing new in each of the boxed titles.

The DigitalBits also reports The Sopranos, The Wire, and Deadwood are coming out in standard DVD mega-sets with some new bonus content, as well as The Flinstones and Batman: The Animated Series.

There's also four utterly unnecessary boxed sets with trinkets no one really needs: JFK (you’d think Oliver Stone would be satisfied with multiple releases in general, after his badly rendered Alexander epic came out in 3 separate DVD versions within about 12 months), 300 (more artwork and a lenticular hologram that also functions as paperweight), A Christmas Story (with cookie cutters?), and I am Legend (featuring the featurettes we knew the studio made but left off the 2-disc edition).

The studios have a lot of planning to get right over the next few months...

Oh, and Happy Canada Day!

Next DVD reviews: westerns with grand aspirations: Fox’ The Big Trail in Grandeur (1930 widescreen!), MGM’s melodramatic racist mush Cimarron (1931), and Westlake Entertainment’s The Painted Desert (1931), a very low budget oater notable for Clark Gable’s sound film debut.

And imminent: MVD Visual’s Gil Scott-Heron concert DVD, plus a rare documentary.


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