David Seltzer was asked to write this movie but refused, as he didn’t believe in sequels. Producer Harvey Bernhard outlined the story himself and Stanley Mann was hired to write the screenplay. Mike Hodges — Flash Gordon‘s director! — started the film but was replaced with Don Taylor (The Final Countdown). It was decided that the music of Jerry Goldsmith was the one thing that could not change.
A week after Robert and Katherine Thorn are buried, an archaeologist tries to convince a colleague that Damien Thorn is the Antichrist and he wants to get the means to kill him to his new family. Taking the unbelieving man to a series of ruins that has Damien’s face on several murals, the two are soon buried alive and killed.
Fast-forward seven years and Damien is living in Chicago with his uncle Richard Thorn (William Holden, who passed on the first film because he didn’t want to be in a movie about the devil) and his wife Ann (Lee Grant). He gets along with his cousin Mark, his classmate in a military school. Basically, Damian’s life is awesome, except that his aunt Marion hates him. Well, the night after she makes that known, a raven shows up and she’s dead.
In this movie, if you see a raven*, someone is about to die horribly. Where the first film had some aspirations to art, this film has aspirations to being a supernatural slasher of sorts. And I am more than fine with that.
There are people who fall under the ice and drown, reporters whose eyes are pecked out before they’re run over by a truck, an entire class gets gassed, trains impaling folks and so much more outright decimation of human beings. This is a movie unafraid to wipe out every single person in its cast in abject glee.
I mean, when they analyze the bone marrow and blood of Damian, they figure out that he has jackal DNA. That’s the type of plot twist that I demand that more movies pull on me. The fact that it’s Meshach Taylor and that he’s soon torn in half makes it even better.
*In the novelization of the film, the raven is actually Damien’s subconscious and the murders that it carries out come from Damien’s id.