Movie Name: The Amityville Horror
Studio: American International Pictures
Release Date(s): July 27, 1979
MPAA Rating: R
The Lutzs (Margot Kidder and James Brolin) have a new house. They got it for a steal. It does have a past, but the ideal setting of the New York home, makes it worth it. After twenty-eight days, the Lutzs left the home and their belongings…forever. What happened in that home in Amityville and to the Lutzs is a tale of terror.
The Amityville Horror was directed by Stuart Rosenberg and based on the novel by Jay Ansen published in 1977. The novel and film told the “true” account of George and Kathy Lutz. What is true is that they did live in the home for twenty-eight days and the murders of the DeFao family by their son Ronald DeFao, Jr. did occur in the home in 1974. The rest of the book and film is what the Lutzs claimed happened really has for the most part been discounted (some by the Lutzs themselves).
That being said, The Amityville Horror is still creepy. It does help to believe it is real. Like the saps who went into The Blair Witch Project thinking it was a true story, believing something is possible makes it scarier. If the events of The Amityville Horror did occur, I wouldn’t set foot in the house. Since even as a kid, I went into The Amityville Horror with speculation, I didn’t find that aspect too scary.
The creeps come from the slowly building tension. There isn’t much horrific about the events that happened to the Lutzs, but it is creepy. The ending when the evil “erupts” from the home is kind of laughable. It is the build up with the subtle (and not so subtle) warnings that are fun. Be it Rod Steiger’s priest being told to “Get Out!” or the creepy “Jodie” the pig, The Amityville Horror does build fear.
Part of the reason The Amityville Horror works is a decent cast. It could have easily been a cheap straight to video nowadays, but the film looks good (for the most part), and Brolin and Kidder give it all. Add to that some Oscar clout from Rod Steiger, and it is a decent cast for a B-Movie (which made a ton of money). You even have ’70s darling Meeno Peluce (Soleil Moon Frye’s brother) who seemed to be in everything at the time.
It is the little things about The Amityville Horror that give me the creeps. The slew of sequels and the awful 2005 remake don’t help make this movie scarier. It is the idea of being watching in your own home and not even being safe there. The part where Margot Kidder looks out the window and sees “Jodie” is just scary to me. Not the effect…it was simply some LED lights that blink a few times, but the idea that “Jodie” could have been there the whole time. Unlike a vampire, the Frankenstein Monster, zombies, or werewolves, ghosts can’t really be stopped, and The Amityville Horror is one of those things that applies a real world mentality to a classic ghost story. The Amityville Horror was followed by Amityville II: The Possession in 1982