Original Vs. Remake: The Amityville Horror

No one had a problem with the original Poltergeist taking the crown on our last Original Vs. Remake. I never thought for a second that the remake would win, however I also was a tad surprised at how enjoyable it ended up being. The film had a sense of fun and clearly respected Tobe Hooper's classic, but wasn't even remotely scary. And it's tough to win one of these battles if you don't bring the scares.

We are keeping up with the whole haunting theme for today's Original Vs. Remake and discussing a film with one hell of a house at the center of the story. If you're about to move into a new home, you may not want to continue reading. I'm just saying you may want to make sure that no one was murdered in the new residence before moving in! By now you should have a pretty good idea that we're taking a trip to Amityville for this throwdown. So grab your fly swatter as the Horror is about to begin!

The Lutz family gets a great deal on a huge house and moves right in! Sure, there was a mass murder in the home a year ago, but that shouldn't be a problem, right? Actually, the house is pretty loaded up with some evil f*cking spirits that don't take kindly to new living guests. Pretty soon, the father is possessed and the rest of the family has the shit scared out of them.
Not much has changed with the story at all. New family, new house, site of mass murder, evil spirit possession ensues. Only this time, the father (Mr. Ryan Reynolds) must have one hell of a gym membership because the mofo is shredded.
Special Effects
We get lots of practical effects work here, which really helps realize all the scares. And it is all very simple stuff like a chair that rocks with no one in it or statues crumbling. There's also a fair enough amount of blood through gunshot wounds and a very fast axe to the noggin. The bleeding walls are pretty nifty too.
The blood is much more gruesome in the remake be it gunshot wounds or icky surgery. Also, the ghostly figures are quite creepy and pretty damn effective. Kudos to the make-up department! The movements of the ghostly figures, while clearly CGI, really work at stepping up the terror.
James Brolin and Margot Kidder are absolutely perfect as the lead married couple. Their chemistry and small, sweet moments at the beginning are entirely believable. The children are also quite good for a late 70's film. And, of course, Rod Steiger is just fantastic as the Father looking to rid the home of its evil.
I will say that the filmmakers put together an excellent cast for this remake. Ryan Reynolds is a fine actor (there, I said it) and really showcases some nice range as the afflicted family man. He's actually pretty intense. Melissa George perfectly balances his rage with a terrific fearful performance. And, Miss Chloƫ Grace Moretz, makes a great big screen debut as the young daughter.
We are treated to some outstanding genuine jolts in the original. In some seemingly calm scenes, there are some pretty unexpected cuts to swift instances of terror that really catch you off guard. That scene with the priest and the flies escalates quickly in terms of intensity. And simple things such as a pair of eyes, a window shutting, or a rocking chair make for such great frights.
The acting prowess of Ryan Reynolds actually does a great job of amping up the intensity. His performance does indeed send chills, especially because you wouldn't expect a congenial guy like him to be so bad. The fast flashes of apparitions also add some nice scares. And lastly, the more expanded scenes of what actually went down in the house's basement packs quite a shock.
Hot Chicks
Yes, Margot Kidder was quite the hottie back in the 1970's and Amityville is a fine example. She has a scene in a pair of panties and opened shirt near the beginning where she's doing these ballet-like poses while looking in a mirror. It is some pretty hot stuff. Can't blame her husband for immediately getting down with her when he walks in to this performance.
The remake is packing an excellent double whammy of genre hottie hotness here! First, there's sexy Melissa George as the wife/mother, who bares some nice bits of skin. Then, we are treated to the gorgeous Rachel Nichols as an uber hot babysitter with sultry eyes and the most bangin body ever!
Stuart Rosenberg was a master of his craft. The man definitely knows a thing or two about setting up some palatable suspense. There is an underlying fear of the unknown that lingers throughout his film and really keeps you on the edge of your seat. He also seems to know precisely what he wants from his actors and is able to conjure fantastically believable performances from all of them.
I'm a little surprised that Andrew Douglas hasn't directed many more movies. He's definitely got an eye for style and doesn't pull his punches. Even smaller aspects are handled nicely such as the flashback opening and use of camcorder. And the scene with the babysitter trapped in the closet is quite a sight to behold with its frantic editing and eerie close-ups.
Oh man, we have ourselves a freakin tie! Oh the Horror! I better start justifying this shit before any haters start a-hatin'. Yes, the 1979 is a classic and features lots of wonderful elements. It also seems to drag a bit at times as the focus shifts back and forth between the family and the clergy. The remake smartly streamlines the story, removing a lot of the priest/nun exposition which I feel makes for a pretty tight flick! The performances are great, the R-rating is utilized, and there are some nice intense moments. Plus, it is not an exact copy for the original as some new ideas are infused. Hence, we do indeed have a tie! Now, go forth a fire them bullets below! And if you have any flicks you'd like to see in this column, give me a shout at [email protected].



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