September 2018~ A Tale of Two Damiens

It’s not something that is widely known about me but I am a big fan of stories with a religious plot. I don’t mind if its an action/thriller type story, like The Messiah Code (Formerly known as The Miracle Strain)  by Michael Cordy or a detective/murder mystery like Messiah by Boris Starling which subsequently became a TV series.

But my favourite of all-time has to be the horror series, The Omen.

Before I go any further I should make it known that I’m not a Satanist of any kind. I was, along with a couple of school-friends, accused of being one whilst at secondary school as we enjoyed talking about the story and the way that the author had cleverly woven information from The Bible to make it more real. In reality, I have a deep belief in God and am interested by many of the messages in The Bible, though I am very aware that in my opinion it is a very flawed document, written by men with their own agenda in mind. I also applied to be a priest at one point but after a couple of years changed my mind. I do have a problem with organised religion due to some of the people I have met, which is a shame as my childhood was spent in a very caring parish.

Anyway, the original story was written by David Seltzer and his book was turned into the successful film starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick amongst others. After the first book, Seltzer chose not to return to the franchise and the final four (Yes, there are 5 books in the series) were written by other people. Full list below:-

  • The Omen, written in 1976 by David Seltzer
  • Damien: Omen II, written in 1978 by Joseph Howard
  • Omen III: The Final Conflict, written in 1980 by Gordon McGill
  • Omen IV: Armageddon 2000, written in 1983 by Gordon McGill
  • Omen V: The Abomination, written in 1985 by Gordon McGill

I enjoy the battle of good versus evil. The fact that we, through The Bible, learned of Jesus’ time on earth (if you view The Bible as a historical document) but in this franchise we see the rise of the son of Satan- The Antichrist! I like the way that Judeo-Christian lore, mythology and ritual are deeply embedded in the story and that anyone could be a disciple of Satan!

The short-lived TV show was excellent but unfortunately ignored the goings on of every film after the original. This was a disappointment as I enjoy all three of the films; seeing Damien grow older, finding out who he is, his rise to power and eventual downfall. I don’t include the made for TV movie Omen IV as quite honestly it was awful, even if it did pick up after Omen III. The 2006 remake of The Omen was a waste of money in my opinion.

I’ve met a number of the cast over the years (see below) and, as the title of this post goes, have met two Damiens.

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I met Harvey Stephens at an Autographica event in London many years ago. It was his first event and he had no idea what to expect. He wasn’t particularly busy so I got to have a good long chat with him. He had lots of stories to tell about things like the kindness of his on-screen parents Lee Remick and Gregory Peck- they were both amazing and treated him well.

The one story that stuck in my mind was his audition story. The producer and director had seen many children and no one had managed to deliver what was needed for the part so Harvey was instructed by someone on the audition panel to attack the director who had knelt down in front of him. Harvey did this by running up to him and kicking him squarely in the nuts! The job was his!

Harvey also had the original bike which he had been given after filming end.

Harvey Stevens

I have yet to meet Jonathan Scott-Taylor who played teenage Damien in Damien: Omen II. I hope to one day!

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I’ve been a big fan of Sam Neill for years. His work in Jurassic Park is well known but I also thought he was great in The Hunt for Red October. Sam played adult Damien who has been appointed to his father’s old job as Ambassador to the Court of St James (UK) and is on his rise to power. Sam was announced as a last-minute guest for the London Film & Comic Con in July 2018. I quickly bought a photo shoot with him before they sold out!

When the event came I noticed a plethora of Dr Alan Grants from Jurassic Park and loads of inflatable dinosaurs of various types! I quickly decided to do something different so I grabbed some paper, wrote #DamienThorn4President on it and headed off for the shoot. When my turn came I walked up, showed him the sheet and asked if he would hold it. He looked at it, laughed and asked me if I was serious. I replied that he couldn’t be any worse than Trump. He laughed some more, we had the photo and I left.

I tried to get his autograph but, as I was helping on a charity stall, it proved difficult. When I went to his area near the end of the event they had closed the queue. I’ve been a bit cheeky and written to him to see if I can get an autograph that way!

Sam Neill

I’ve met a few other cast members as you can see below:-

The Omen

David Warner who played photographer Keith Jennings in The Omen

Lance Henriksen who played Sergeant Daniel Neff

Tina Simmons who was Lee Remick’s stand-in and body-double in The Omen

I really hope they never try to remake films II & III but would be happy if they converted the books of IV and V into film.

July 2018~ London Film & Comic Con 2018

This was my first Showmasters event since 2016 as at this time last year I was in Belfast at a close friends’ wedding.

Previous events had been extremely busy. In the past I have been quite critical of the events, the amount of space used and amount of tickets sold. There have also been some very unhelpful crew over the years. With the weather this year forecast to be record breaking due to the ongoing heatwave I was concerned. It was a concern that was unfounded. The whole venue had been used which allowed people to move around fairly easily in comparison to previous years. The main photo shoot area was mental but that’s fairly normal especially with some huge names announced. The crew in one photo area did their best to confuse people and didn’t like to be questioned but it all worked out in the end.

I will add that this is the first LFCC I have enjoyed for many years. You can never have a problem-free event, but this was very close from an attendee point-of-view. A lot of fun!

Yet again I was helping man the USS Iceni charity stall, hoping to raise funds for both Starlight Children’s’ Foundation and Crohn’s & Colitis UK. Our total prior to the event was £13506. We started with 300 prizes and by the close of day 2, Matthew and Lorna had to restock. At the end of the event only a handful of prizes were left and a grand total of £1026 raised, bringing the total to £14,532. A good effort by all!

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There were the usual dealers selling a wide range of merchandise. If you wanted something in particular you could probably have found it there.

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Amazon Prime were also there promoting their new series, Jack Ryan. I’ve been a huge Jack Ryan fan since the late 80s having read all of the books and seen the film adaptations of some. This is to be a prequel series set before the books and the trailer looks good. Amazon had gone all out and set up a mini CIA-type recruitment stand. You had to pass an interview (I had a bit of fun answering some of the questions in the little bit of Russian that I know), there was then a weapons proficiency test, aptitude exam and interrogation. It was all good fun and you ended up with an ID card and, if good enough, your name on the scoreboard!

There were over 80 guests this year, from film, TV, music and sports. Some were incredibly rare signers including Meatloaf and James Caan plus three top guests from The Dukes of Hazzard (4 if you count The General Lee). There was also a huge Doctor Who guest contingent including Peter Capaldi, David Tennant and Christopher Ecclestone. I chose to avoid those this time around and focus on guests I had been waiting a long time for. Namely David Duchovny, Zachary Levi and Sam Neill, with the latter two being announced last minute.

I also decided to focus on the cast of Wonder Woman, one of a favourite Superhero movies and get a poster I made signed. Unfortunately, Lucy Davis (of Shaun of the Dead fame) cancelled and therefore missed out on the pleasure of meeting me. One day Lucy, one day!

poster

The remaining cast (Eugene Brave Rock (Chief Napi), Said Taghmaoui (Sameer) and Emily Carey (Young Diana)) were all equally amazing!

I also met Sean Young (to add to my Blade Runner collection), William Hope and Lance Henriksen (for my Aliens collection) and Shauna MacDonald (for my Spooks collection). We need more Spooks guests!!

Finally I had a nice time meeting Nathalie Emmanuel who plays Missandei in Game of Thrones. We ended up chatting about my tee shirt!

Nathalie Emmanuel

Both David Duchovny, of The X-Files and Zachary Levi, of Chuck and the new Shazam movie were real gentlemen. A pleasure to meet!

However, the highlight of the weekend for me was meeting Sam Neill who had flown all the way from New Zealand. Apart from playing Dr Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park films, Sam was in two other book/film series that I follow. He played Captain Vasiliy Borodin in the Jack Ryan (see above) film, The Hunt for Red October. He also played the adult Damien Thorn, the Antichrist, in Omen III: The Final Conflict. It was this film that inspired my photoshoot with him. Everyone else in the line was dressed as either Dr Alan Grant or a dinosaur. I on the other hand made a very rough, last-minute sign that read “#DamienThorn4President. I asked him if he would mind pointing at it. He took one look, let out a big laugh, looked at me and said “seriously?”. I replied “Can’t be any worse than the current one”.  He smiled, we had our photo and I left. Very enjoyable!

Sam Neill

As usual there were an amazing amount of awesome cosplayers. Photos below!

Roll on 2019. I’m hoping for Gal Gadot and of course, Lucy Davis (who needs Chris Pine right?)!

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