“What do you want with us? Goddamnit, this is MY house!” - George Lutz
In 1976 after the real life George and Kathy Lutz fled the house that was said to have haunted their asses; media frenzy began. The initial spark was a Newsday article about the Lutz’ sprint out of there due to bad joo-joo. Then a séance conducted by a famous “psychic” couple (The Wells) under the cameras of Channel 5 kicked in. They went on to confirm that the pad was indeed spooked up. That led to a Best Selling Book by Jay Anson which made way for the flick to hit the screens Over the years, the affair was hit by two sides of one bat; Side 1 had various sources find discrepancies in Lutz’s story, claiming that it was all a hoax organized by Lutz and DeFeo’s lawyer. Side 2 had some of the “debunkers” “check out” in mysterious ways; further supporting that the house was EVILLLL (in a Donald Pleasance drawl). So is the Amityville story true or not? At this point, I don’t give a cock-tail! Is the movie any damn good? That is the question.
I was fairly young when I experienced this house for the first time and it scared the Be-Jesus out of me then (that “Get Out” bit…brrr). Years later I visited its quarters again and weed-napped my way through it. With the remake soon upon us (April 2005) I decided to re-visit this humble abode armed with maturity and a bottle of Southern Comfort. Here’s what I got out of it. What made The Amityville Horror a compelling watch from start to finish was quite simple. It began with its engaging premise and its string of effective fear devices. The supernatural stuff at play here gave me the “willies” in their “so simple they could happen” nature. They thankfully also made way for a couple of potent, suspense laced scenes that had me chewing my toe-nails in antsy-ness. With that said; it was the strong lead cast backing the goodies up that truly made it all work for me. The magnetic James Brolin and his impressive beard owned the screen while Margot Kidder was at her prime acting wise. I would’ve followed this couple to “Blockbusters” and back! They were not only my anchor to the whole she-bang but they also sold me on the frightening events at hand. Then we had the morbid, crawl under skin atmosphere that the flick put charming the trousers out of me. I don’t know if it was the 70’s vibe, the super chilling score or both, but movies don’t feel like this one anymore. Lastly, the deliciously macabre production designs sure helped in making the affair an unsettling ordeal to sit through. All about that house man…THAT HOUSE! It got under my skin and…stayed there!
Sadly it wasn’t all roses and hookers where my peeves with the flick were many. My main one was its knack of never running as far as it could with its ideas. All of the fear ingredients were introduced and then dropped, right down to George Lutz’s “The Shining” like state. Result; the film played like a straight line with rarely any bumps in sight to wholly jump start our hearts. The useless subplots that went nowhere grated me as well. Why was that cigar chomping cop in the film again? All he did was follow The Lutz or The Priest around to then do… NOTHING! So that’s where our Tax Money goes! SHEESH! The same went for the Priest and Kathy bond. He never tried hard enough to warn her while she never tried hard enough to reach him in time. So that angle didn’t bring much, if anything to the storyline. Finally two statements rang in my melon as the end credits rolled: 1 -That young priest was the worst priest ever, how about helping out somebody in your parish as opposed to fixing cars? 2– What does it take to get these people out of that house? I would’ve jumped ship the second those “red pig eyes’ popped up. COME ON!
On paper The Amityville Horror would get two and half stars from yours truly. True story or not; the script could’ve gone further and been tighter. But I went the 3 on 4 stars with it. Why? Its feel man…the deathly aura it sported truly appealed to me and often filled her up when the substance was lacking. No quick-cut madness here! This is how a horror flick SHOULD BE shot! Now, you going to visit this house? Burn it to the ground? Or throw a Keg party in it? It’s up to you Tank-Top-Tacos!