The curse of The Omen

Rumours go that some films have been cursed, for example, The Poltergeist, Superman and Rosemary’s Baby. Numerous accidents have happened, making some people think these films come with a jinx.1 Not all of them are equally convincing. Accidents happen all the time. They have no relation to a movie, even when several actors of the same cast had bad luck. Still, the curse of The Omen stands out.

Danny Harkins wrote on Cracked.com: ‘No film in history has had worse luck than The Omen. Hell, nothing in history has had worse luck than The Omen.’2 The Omen came with billboards featuring a 666-logo inside the title and the uplifting slogan, ‘You have been warned. If something frightening happens to you today, think about it. It may be The Omen.’ And the cheery notice, ‘Good morning, you are one day closer to the end of the world,’ and a conclusion stating, ‘Remember, you have been warned.’

In The Omen, the wife of the American ambassador to Italy gave birth to a son. The child died almost immediately. A priest then convinced him to replace his son with an orphan without telling his wife. Mysterious events soon started to haunt them. The child turned out to be the Antichrist. The Omen was first released on 6 June 1976 (6/6). The date refers to the number 666 as the last digit of 1976 is also a 6. The length of the film is 111 minutes.

It made The Omen a good candidate for a hefty curse. Two months before the filming started, the son of lead actor Gregory Peck committed suicide. In the film, he is the father of the child that died. When Peck went to the film set of The Omen, lightning struck his plane. A few weeks later, lightning struck executive producer Mace Neufeld’s flight. A lightning bolt in Rome just missed producer Harvey Bernhard. Later, the IRA bombed the hotel in which Neufeld was staying.1

A plane hired by the studio to take aerial shots was switched at the last moment by the airline. The people who took the original aeroplane were all killed when it crashed on take-off. An animal handler who worked on the film set died two weeks after working on the film when he was eaten alive by a tiger.1

Stuntman Alf Joint was seriously injured and hospitalised when a stunt went wrong on the set on A Bridge Too Far in Arnhem in the Netherlands, less than a year after the production of The Omen. He jumped off a building and missed the inflatable safety bags meant to cushion his fall. It nearly killed him. Joint said that he felt a push even though nobody was near him at the time.1 Perhaps the combination of these accidents is not exceptional. It might be the result of chance.

But then events took a most peculiar turn. On Friday, 13 August 1976, special effects consultant John Richardson drove through the Netherlands with Liz Moore. Both were working on A Bridge Too Far. They became involved in a car accident that killed Moore. The scene is said to have been eerily similar to one of the most gruesome scenes Richardson had designed for The Omen. The story goes that the accident happened near a road sign stating a distance of 66.6 kilometres to the town of Ommen, a name very similar to omen. And it happened on Friday the thirteenth.1

That caught my attention. There are no road signs in the Netherlands giving distances in fractions of kilometres. Only kilometre markers come with these fractions. Near Raalte is a junction where route N348 to Ommen joins Route N35 to Nijverdal. This location corresponds with kilometre marker 66.6 on Route N348. Road signs stating the direction towards Ommen are close to this marker. I am familiar with the area because I lived nearby in Nijverdal as a child. It appeared to me that this junction was the crash location.

Route N348 from Arnhem to Ommen
Route N348 from Arnhem to Ommen

And so I came to investigate the curse. In 2015 I started an inquiry. A journalist from the local newspaper De Stentor helped me. He did some research and emailed me on 14 April. He had managed to find a former police officer from the area. According to the police officer, the accident indeed took place on Route N348 close to Raalte, but between Raalte and Deventer near Heeten, where Route N348 passes the Overmeenweg. This location corresponds with kilometre marker 60.0. The police officer told the journalist he still remembered the car crash very well.3

According to the police officer, the accident happened when he was on duty. A man and a woman had parked their car in a parking lot alongside Route N348. When they drove away in the direction of Deventer, they entered the wrong lane and collided head-on with an oncoming vehicle driven by a resident of Nijverdal. The view there was somewhat limited because of two gentle curves in the road. He noted that there was no road sign mentioning Ommen near the crash site.3

The woman died on the spot. The car was destroyed and disposed to a fire station. It turned out that the couple were foreigners involved in the production of A Bridge Too Far, the police officer told the journalist. He suspected that Richardson, accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, was not paying attention.3

In a British television programme, Richardson said the following, ‘It was certainly very odd because it happened on Friday the thirteenth.’ He then added, ‘Right opposite the point where the accident happened, was an old mile-post with nothing but sixes on it.’ And he also noted, ‘What spooked me even more, was when I discovered it was on a road to a place called Ommen.’ It appears that Richardson has misread kilometre marker 60.0 and has taken the zeroes for sixes. The numbers might have been worn out if it was an old post like Richardson said.

Kilometre marker 96.1 of route A28 in the Netherlands
Kilometre marker 96.1 of route A28 in the Netherlands

Based on the current location of the marker and the details given by the police officer, another possible scenario is that Richardson was brought to Raalte or a hospital in Zwolle and crossed the junction of Route N348 with Route N35. He may have noticed kilometre marker 66.6 there and a sign stating the direction towards Ommen close to it. That may have freaked him out so that it became part of the legend of the curse. Recollections of an event that happened decades ago are often not accurate, and this applies to the memories of the police officer as well as Richardson.

Alan Tyler, who made a documentary about the curse of The Omen, noticed odd things happening when he was working on it. The strangest thing was that he had two different camera crews filming in separate locations but all the footage showed the same fault. It is at least remarkable that kilometre marker 66.6 is near a road sign stating the direction to Ommen on the same road that was the scene of the car crash so that I came to investigate the curse, most notably because of what happened next.

When I was compiling my findings after receiving the email from the journalist, a few curious events transpired. After reading the email, I took a glance at my stock portfolio. Apart from a few mutual funds, I owned stocks of three corporations. One of them was Heymans, a constructor. It came with a quote of € 13.13. Another position was Macintosh, a retail company. I owned 500 of these, and the price was € 2.626. Hence, the total value was € 1,313. It was peculiar because the car crash happened on Friday the thirteenth. Meanwhile, Macintosh is bankrupt, while Heymans stock went down 60% after the company ran into trouble.

That seems a bit of a curse already, and it suggests poor stock-picking skills on my part. But there was more to come. That evening I had an appointment with a contractor who came to make a tender for renovating my bathroom. He came from Almelo while I lived in Sneek. He cancelled because his van had broken down earlier that day. He could take two routes: via Nijverdal crossing Route N348 near kilometre marker 66.6 or the alternative route via Ommen.

Another curious finding was that my search for ‘Ommen 666’ in Google produced a link to the website Hondentrainingsneek.nl. At first glance, it appeared to be a site for dog training in Sneek, but it was a bit fishy. Somehow ‘Ommen 666’ had been inserted into topic titles such as ‘Dog Training Terry Ommen 66.6km.’5 The texts on the website were incoherent, with a few references to Ommen 66.6 in it. It is noteworthy as I currently live in Sneek and previously lived in Nijverdal while my enquiry uncovered that Richardson crashed into the car of a resident of Nijverdal.

A final titbit is that my wife has a heart condition that made her visit the hospital in Sneek around the same time I began investigating the curse. The name of her doctor happens to be Oomen, a name pronounced exactly like omen. She had an operation in 2018 and is still visiting dr. Oomen a few times per year. There certainly is something odd about The Omen, or perhaps this universe, where strange incidents happen.

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Featured image: Film poster for The Omen. © 2002 20th Century Fox. [copyright info]

Other image: Route N348 from Arnhem to Ommen. User Michiel1972 (2007). Wikimedia Commons.

1. Curse of The Omen and other Hollywood hexes. Barry Didcock (2012). Scotland Herald. [link]
2. The Insane True Stories Behind 6 Cursed Movies. Danny Harkins (2008). Cracked.com. [link]
3. Email exchange with De Stentor. Theplanforthefuture.org. [link]
4. Curse or coincidence?… ‘Conspiro Media’ re-examines the grisly chain of events connected to those involved in the ’70s horror-flick, ‘The Omen’… Matt Sergiou (2014).
conspiromedia.wordpress.com. [link]
5. Dog training Terry Ommen 66.6km. Theplanforthefuture.org. [link]