Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Screenplay by Sandor Stern
Based on the Book by Jay Anson
Starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder,
Rod Steiger, Don Stroud and
Running time 118 minutes
Releases July 1979
The Amityville Horror, a story that even today continues to have a fair amount of debate around it. One of Americas great modern tales of "true" hauntings, it all depends on who you discuss it with as to whether they are on the side of true story or of long running hoax. We could debate the subject for hours, with numerous books, tv specials, and various documentaries made about the story over the years and covering both the Defeos and Lutzes. Instead however we shall just look at the films merits, and~or lack there of.
At a price that couldnt be beat, newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz have just bought their Dream home in the picturesque community of Amityville. Its a large home on the water, complete with boat house and dock, perfect for the premade family (2 children and a dog) George married into. All seems wonderful for this lovely family or does it?
Previous owners, the Defeos, met a strange and brutal demise in the home, well most of them anyway. 6 of the DeFeo family were murdered under very strange circumstances by the eldest brother Ronald Jr. Ronald claimed demon possession led to the murders, however he was found guilty of the brutal acts, but that has not answered some very troubling questions about the case. (All of this is true and factual the rest is open to personal belief.)
Troubling occurrences begin happening to the family almost immediately upon moving in. Kathy calls the local Father to come and bless the house, setting off a chain of events that range from the mundane to the downright crazy. Father Delaney finds himself overrun with thousands of flies in one particular room of the house while becoming violently ill in various others, while trying to bless the home. George becomes morose, and sullen, while Kathy searches for answers, and the children start to have experiences of their own, including a memorable moment with the babysitter. Finally 28 days after first moving in we watch in horror as the George and, Kathy, with kids and dog in tow, flee the house in the middle of the night leaving all their personal belongings, never to return.
I may get skewered for this but I am not a huge fan of this film, although there is much more action than I made mention of Its a slow and often dismal film in my eyes. I am a huge fan of the book and still to this day find the possibility of it somewhat disconcerting, but somehow the film lost all of the tension that is in the book and becomes almost annoying in its complete lack of scares. The special effects are pretty limited, the writing leaves something to be desired. I didn't at all empathize with the family, not even as young kid watching this one years ago, which says a lot! If you cant even inspire anxiety or compassion in a child what the hell are are you offering the adults watching? I was honestly more scared watching a television special back in the early 80s about the making of, than I was of the actual film. So watch if you must, I get it its an American haunting of epic proportions and who knows maybe it will speak to you in a way it couldn't me, but if not... dont say I didnt warn you!