Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Screenplay by Sandor Stern
Based on the book by Jay Anson
What is fear? Is it being scared of the unknown or is it being scared of the things we already know? Fear can grip us in ways that we never thought imaginable. Take for instance “The Amityville Horror”. Here we have a film that I’ve seen at least five times and have usually found to be sort of tedious and unremarkable; and yet this time and at this point in my life the fucking thing scared the living shit out of me. By the end of the film and after four beers I had to piss so badly and yet I waited until my teeth were floating because I just could not walk away until it was all over.
But, I digress. It is not because of the phenomenon that allegedly happened to George and Kathy Lutz and their three children that scared me. Hollywood and an author (Jay Anson) can fake glowing eyes and bleeding walls and cries of “GET OUUUUTT”; but what they cannot fake is real life. Ronald Defeo, Jr. did indeed murder his family in cold blood in that house at 112 Ocean Avenue. He did indeed shoot them in their beds while they slept. Was he possessed by a demonic force while he pulled the trigger of that .35 Martin rifle? Who the hell knows? Devil or not, what the man did was evil.
But again, I digress. We’re talking about a movie here, aren’t we? Why was I scared by “The Amityville Horror”? I’m supposed to be the big bad horror movie review guy. Stuff like this is supposed to be second nature to me. Is there something happening in my life that’s causing this fear? Am I suicidal or homicidal? I don’t think it’s any of that. What I think it is the fact that as I have grown older I have come to realize that there is indeed real evil in this world and there is not a damn thing that Hollywood can do to sugar coat it.
The outdoor scenes of the movie were not filmed in Amityville, Long Island, but rather Toms River, New Jersey. Local police and ambulance workers played extras.
Jay Anson who wrote the book “The Amityville Horror” actually wrote out a screenplay for this film only for the producers to turn it down. Eventually they found Sandor Sternand liked his take on it so he was hired for the job.
James Brolin was hesitant when he was first offered the role of George Lutz. He was told that there was no script and that he must obtain a copy of Jay Anson’s novel and read it as soon as possible. Brolin started the book one evening at seven o’clock and was still reading at two o’clock in the morning. He had hung a pair of his pants up in the room earlier and at a really “tense” part in the book, the pants fell down from wherever they had been hanging. Brolin jumped out of his chair, nearly crashing his head into the ceiling. It was then that Brolin said, “There’s something to this story.” He agreed to do the movie.
Due to all the unwanted fame the book and film had brought upon the real house in Amityville, the current owners have replaced the “evil eyes” windows with normal rectangle-shaped windows.
Margot Kidder went on record with her friends that she hated the film.
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