The Seven Daggers of Megiddo are recovered from the old ruins of the Thorn Museum in Chicago and are sold at an auction to a priest who, after researching them, sends them to a monastery in Subiaco, Italy. Meanwhile, Damien Thorn is now 32 years old and has been the head of Thorn Industries for seven years, which is now very prosperous and has a tight grip on much of the globe thanks to its control of the food supply for many countries and its relief efforts that gain publicity by helping with catastrophes that Damien himself engineers. Knowing that the Second Coming of Christ, which is prophesized to occur in England, is drawing near, Damien uses his power to make the current U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain commit suicide so he can take his place. It isn't long after his appointment to the position that astronomers begin to see signs of an unusual and oncoming constellation of stars and Father DeCarlo, the head of the monastery in Subiaco, which is the same place where Father Spiletto spent his final days, realizes it the imminent sign of the Second Coming. Also having learned from Spiletto many years ago that Damien is the Antichrist, DeCarlo and six other priests plan to use the daggers to kill him before the Second Coming takes place. In England, Damien has become the cream of English high society thanks to his new position and attracts the attention of TV journalist, Kate Reynolds, who begins spending time with him along with her orphaned son, Peter. The priests' first assassination attempt occurs during a televised interview on Reynolds' television show but it goes awry and ends in the priest's death, as well as in Damien discovering that someone who knows who he is has the daggers in their possession. Shortly afterward, the constellation, which creates something along the lines of a second Star of Bethlehem, comes to pass, heralding the rebirth of Christ, which Damien himself senses. After another attempt on his life by three more of the priests, Damien, determined to prevent the prophesy from coming true, orders his legion of loyal followers to murder every baby boy born between midnight and dawn on the eve of the Rebirth. As the death toll rises, and with Peter now thoroughly seduced by Damien, DeCarlo must convince Reynolds that the man she's fallen for is the son of Satan before he finds the Christ child and dooms mankind to being ruled by evil forever.
Richard Donner almost returned to the director's chair for this film but, due to the massive legal hurdles that he was involved in due to the Salkinds' canning him from finishing Superman II, he was only able to serve as executive producer, so the producers instead hired an unknown, British filmmaker named Graham Baker, who at that time had only directed the short film, Leaving Lilly, and episodes of a couple of television series. Like Don Taylor before him, Baker proved that he was able to make a really good-looking, polished film, but his ability to tell a really interesting, creepy story was severely lacking, not helped in any way by the script. His directing career never really went anywhere after The Final Conflict. He directed the 1984 movie, Impulse, with Tim Matheson and Meg Tilly, an episode of Amazing Stories, and, most notably, the 1988 science fiction cult classic, Alien Nation. He directed three films in the 90's: The Recruit, which IMDB has no information on at all, Born to Ride, with John Stamos and John Stockwell, and Beowulf with Christopher Lambert, after which he never directed again until 2016 with With Love From... Suffolk, a British film that currently has an 8.0 rating on IMDB! Okay, it's only from 21 users, but still, damn! And in case you're wondering, no, I was unable to find any image of Baker whatsoever. Believe me, I tried since, thanks to The Omen Legacy, I know what he looks like from a photo they showed (at the time, he had long hair and his face was kind of odd) but I came up empty-handed. In fact, I had a hard time finding images throughout the writing of this and really struggled in finding relevant ones for certain scenes, so be prepared for that.
This film is set in the 1980's, either 1981 or 1982 since Damien mentions his intention to run for the U.S. Senate in 1984 and, because of that, he makes the President agree to allow him to serve as Ambassador for only two years, which means, given that his age here is 32, The Omen and Damien: Omen II were actually set in the 50's and 60's respectively. You might think that this would cause serious continuity problems but, surprisingly, not really. If you go back and look at this movie, there are instances where the vehicles and hair-styles do scream 1970's but, for the most part, Richard Donner and Don Taylor were quite successful in making their films feel very, very timeless. Specifically, no specific dates are given in either film, with The Omen only saying that the story began five years before and Damien: Omen II saying nothing more than it's been seven years since the events of the first film. What's more, I don't remember seeing any clothes that were specific to the 70's (except for maybe that bright red dress Joan Hart wore in the second film), with everyone wearing suits and dresses that could belong to any time. Even the lack of or the very mild profanity, with the original having none at all and the sequel having some instances of "damn" and "hell," makes it easy for me to believe that those films take place in the 50's and 60's (even though I know in reality, strong swear words have existed since long before then), whereas this, being set in the 80's, has the strongest profanity, with "shit" and "sons of bitches" being uttered. It might not have been their intention when they made those two previous films but the filmmakers behind these movies ended up catching a very easy break when they decided to suddenly retcon the given timeline with this one... that is, until they put in an off-camera line that I don't think many catch. As Damien is about to be interviewed by Kate Reynolds, she gives her viewers some background history on him and mentions that he took over Thorn Industries in 1971, a position that he's held for seven years, which would mean that this would actually have to be 1978. Oops. They almost got away with it!
Unlike his score for Damien: Omen II, here Jerry Goldsmith composed completely original music and never made any references back to the score of the first film, including Ave Satani, or the second, for that matter. Here, the main theme for Damien himself, while still involving a chorus singing in Latin, is less ominous and horrific overall and takes a much more grand, sweeping approach since he's now at his full power. It's still an evil theme all-around but is less about menace and more about how the world is now mostly under the control of the Antichrist without their even realizing it. It's a very memorable, well-done piece and is re-orchestrated in many different ways throughout the film, purely through music in those cases. However, you still do have the trademark unsettling, distant chanting in some scenes like the buildups to or during some of the kills, such as the suicide of the first Ambassador, where you hear Latin singing that gets louder and louder as the reporters approach the door to his office, stopping right before they open it, and when the first priest dies his gruesome death while trying to assassinate Damien. It's during the sequence involving the deaths of the babies, however, where Goldsmith pulls out the stops in regards to music that makes your hair stand on end. The loud, sudden cries when the Boy Scouts show up at one woman's apartment and the nightmarish bit that you hear when Barbara sees that vision of her infant mummified in particular make those scenes all the more unsettling. Not every piece in this film's score has clouds hanging over it, though. In fact, Goldsmith took advantage of this film's more hopeful moments regarding the Second Coming and scored some of the most beautiful music in the entire series, next to his love theme for Robert and Kathy Thorn in the original. The piece for the scene where the stars come together to signal the rebirth of Christ builds and builds until it happens and the music climaxes with a glorious bit of vocalizing, but like the scene itself, this is only a precursor to the film's ending. Once Damien keels over in front of Christ, the most beautiful hymn you've ever heard in your life begins, with joyous singing and incredible music that, when combined with the images and the Bible passages heralding Jesus' triumphant return to Earth, makes it feel like nothing else than a wondrous celebration, that all of the evil that Damien has caused has really been swept away forever. As you can tell, I really enjoy the score for this film and feel that it's one of its best aspects, without a doubt. It's definitely a step up from his score for the second film, with an interesting note being that, like the film itself in its story, he returned to England to compose the score, just like he had for the original. Coincidence?