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Based on a true story that was claimed by writer Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror is about a large house on the coast of Long Island where newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz and their three children move into the house that they hope will be their dream house which ends up in terror. Despite full disclosure by the real estate agent of the house's history, George and Kathy buy the house. George says, "Houses don't have memories," but they turn to their family priest Father Delaney who believes the house is haunted and performs an exorcism on the house. But satanic forces in the house causes him to become blind and makes him very sick. With the help of another priest Father Bolen and a police detective, George and Kathy face the fears of the house, but not knowing the forces are planning to possess George and then the children.Written by
The Amityville Horror: An Entertaining Haunted House Effort
Over the years, I have truly enjoyed "The Amityville Horror," a 1979 haunted house flick that has been critically, and unfairly, bashed. Since it's based on a true story, the critics have found that they dislike the movie based on their knowledge of the movie's inspiration. Now, here's my opinion: fiction or non-fiction, Stuart Rosenberg managed to make a fun, campy, and all around creepy horror film that resonates as one of the most famous haunted house movies ever created.
Everyone knows the legend about that house in Amityville, New York, the Dutch Colonial on 112 Ocean Avenue. The movie begins in 1974, when Ronnie DeFeo Jr. murdered his family in the house at 3:15 am, shooting them all in their sleep. A year later, George and Kathy Lutz bought the house and moved in with their three children and their dog, Harry. Aware of the tragedy that occurred in the home, George and his wife planned to fix it up and start a new life after their recent marriage. After all, "houses don't have memories." But then, things went wrong. Horribly wrong. And after 28 days, the family left the house and fled Amityville, never turning back.
Of course, Jay Anson's novel was a bestseller. I've personally read it myself, and it's written well. But there are several different variations on what happened during those 28 days, even with George and Kathy Lutz. So, for those of you who know the story before you watch the movie, it's hard to distinguish what is and isn't true. Some of you may not believe it at all. However, I am one of those people that believe in this account of a suburban haunted house, after watching rather truthful and intelligent interviews with the Lutzes and other paranormal investigators. But aside from that, what matters most about "The Amityville Horror" is how it works as a movie.
First of all, the setting means everything. Filmed in New Jersey, and not actually filmed in Amityville, the house is a particularly creepy abode to look at, especially during night scenes. Those two windows become a character all their own. They stare out into the night, and give the viewer the horrible feeling that they're being watched.
Also, there is definitely enough paranormal activity going on to keep you interested. However, the ghostly phenomenon doesn't start right away. In fact, it builds sporadically, creating a wonderful sense of dread. If you can appreciate a good build-up without much special effects(until the dynamite ending), then you will probably like the movie.
James Brolin and Margot Kidder are a joy to watch as George and Kathy Lutz. They are not perfect performances by far(there are moments when their performances go a little too over the top). But there are great things to see here between Brolin and Kidder. They have sincere moments together as husband and wife. Other times when things get frightening, their shock and fear comes off naturally. Then we are scared for George and Kathy. Basically, Brolin and Kidder give mostly good performances.
We also have Rod Steiger's performance as Father Delaney to judge. Sandor Stern's script has limited this character, and therefore, Steiger is not in the movie too much, but he makes the most with the screen time he has. In fact, he makes the role larger, and we're not just scared for the Lutz family, but for him also.
Obviously, some events in "The Amityville Horror" are slightly exaggerated when you compare them with the book's events or the perspectives of others who have experienced the haunting. But that doesn't make the movie any less entertaining. I look past its flaws, and embrace it for what it is: a cult classic that has gotten some damn good attention over the years. It's not a masterpiece, but I continue to love and believe in "The Amityville Horror."
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