The Final Conflict (1981)

*. It’s 1981 and Damien Thorn has been growing like a weed. Apparently he’s 32 years old, which is amazing since he was only 12 in 1978.
*. I don’t know if there’s any explanation for this chronology. The dates mentioned in the script are scrambled around a bit (they say at one point that Damien took over Thorn Industries in 1971, which was apparently seven years ago, but also that this is 1982). I’ll confess I may not have been paying attention.
*. That said, I felt I might have been missing a lot more than this. I kept getting the sense that stuff had been taken out of the final script, with no regard to any gaps that might have been left behind. There are matters raised that don’t seem to have any connection to the plot. What’s all the stuff about a brewing conflict between Israel and Egypt? That has nothing to do with Damien because he’s the Ambassador to the United Kingdom. And why does Damien want to be President of the United Nations Youth Council? What the hell is that anyway?

*. This is on top of all the usual questions one has watching a movie like this. If Damien, in Chicago, can get people in London to kill themselves by remote mental control, could he not have them do it in such bizarre and suspicious ways? And what is it he really wants?
*. Of course he wants to get rid of “the Nazarene”: the Second Coming which is, according to the star-watchers at the observatory, going to happen somewhere in England — something Damien already knows based on some dodgy etymology that has “England” deriving from “angels” (which isn’t true). But aside from all that, just what is Damien after?
*. In his long speech/prayer to his dad (that is, Old Nick) he says he wants to “save the world” from “a numbing eternity in the flaccid bosom of Christ” and his “grubby, mundane creed.” Apparently “there is only one hell: the leaden monotony of human existence!” So Damien is a Nietzschean? I can’t say I disagree with him up to this point. “Two thousand years have been enough! Show man instead the raptures of thy kingdom. Infuse in him the grandeur of melancholy, the divinity of loneliness, the purity of evil, the paradise of pain.” I don’t know about the last two items on the list, but the grandeur of melancholy and the divinity of loneliness don’t sound all that bad. Maybe not an “ecstasy,” but not terrible.
*. As a theology I think this passes muster, but it still leaves me wondering what Damien’s goal is aside from revenge. Though I suppose that’s enough, for him if not for me.

*. I don’t think this a good movie at all, or as successfully trashy as The Omen, but Sam Neill looks like he’s having a good time and it does have some funny parts. The monastic order of killers made me think of the assassins sent to kill Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. The kills are a hoot, including one where a hapless monk is beagled to death (OK, fox hounds are slightly larger than beagles, but they’re just as cute). The slaughter of the innocents, where Damien plots to kill all the infant male babies in England out-Herods Herod, and should at least be unsettling, but I laughed at all of it. Especially the pair of Scouts wanting to do their good deed for the day.

*. “Are you familiar with the Book of Hebron?” “I don’t know anything about the Book of Hebron.” For some reason that exchange also made me laugh. Is there a Book of Hebron? I don’t know anything about it either.
*. Even the ending manages to go flying over the top, with Damien’s dying line (“Nazarene, you have won . . . nothing!“), addressed to the appearance of a heavenly angel that is apparently just there to watch over his demise, followed by not one but two gratuitous pull quotes from the Bible to send us home with.
*. So, as bad as it is, it isn’t as worthless as you might imagine for the third part of a silly, low-budget franchise. Of course it wasn’t going to be the end of things, but you’d have known that going in. They probably should have stopped though, given what was up next.

5 thoughts on “The Final Conflict (1981)

  1. tensecondsfromnow

    The director’s commentary alludes to the novelisation, which clears up a few of the plot holes; yes, the good baby is born, despite Damien’s efforts, but not in a hospital, so there are no records. Information that really should have been in the film. But the daftness level is sky-high, Ruby Wax is in there, the sermon in the mount scene is great, as is the shot-gun death. I get that it’s silly, I still love it!

    Reply
    1. Alex Good Post author

      There are more than a few laughs along the way, which I have to give it credit for. It’s one of those movies you just have to roll with.

      Reply

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