The Amityville Horror (1979)

For God's sake, get out!

Year of Release: 1979
Genre: Drama/Horror
Rated: R
Running Time: 117 minutes (1:57)
Director: Stuart Rosenberg


James Brolin ... George Lutz
Margot Kidder ... Kathy Lutz
Rod Steiger ... Father Delaney
Don Stroud ... Father Bolen
Murray Hamilton ... Father Ryan
John Larch ... Father Nuncio
Natasha Ryan ... Amy
K.C. Martel ... Greg
Meeno Peluce ... Matt
Michael Sacks ... Jeff
Helen Shaver ... Carolyn


A young husband and wife tour the rooms of a house with a bizarre history of violence and bloodshed. "There's nothing like it on the market," the real estate agent tells them. "Not at this price."

"I just wish so many people hadn't died here," says the wife. "Houses don't have memories," her husband answers. Or do they?

"The Amityville Horror" tells the story of an ordeal almost beyond belief: twenty-eight days and nights in a three-story house that showed every terrifying sign of being haunted by an unspeakable evil.

The Lutz family moved into their home in December, 1975.

One year earlier, it had been the scene of a hideous multiple murder - six people, including children, slain by a crazed member of the household. Since that night, the house had stood empty. When the Lutz family moved in, it came back to life... and the horror began.


Remindin' all you ladies out there that when a man spends half his days splittin' wood an the other half rockin' back an forth like an old man on a porch swing in front of the fireplace cause he's got hypothermia of the groin, you may wanna just open up the bottom drawer of the night stand an deal with your own problems. See, if you'd ever hadda try startin' a tired old car when it's ten below outside, you might have a little more sympathy for the level of ineffectiveness inherent in a chilly willy. Instead, you just get offended cause it makes you feel unattractive when it lays there like a bull snake that got run over in the road. And no, a whiny insecure broad cryin' into a carton of Haggen Dazs is prolly not gonna increase its chances of risin' from the dead, so give a guy some slack, alright?

An speakin' of things that'll curdle your milk, it's October again, an the thing I feared most the moment Skunky Hernandez started chargin' $20 a carload to yuppie claims adjusters an conservative investment consultants who went on vacation to see "the real America" after that big fire deep fried the old growth forest last summer an turned all the little woodland creatures into refugees has happened; Skunky has begun preparations for the 2nd annual Chickawalka County Sage maze. I just can't deal with this right now, not after what happened last year. So I been duckin' Skunky as much as possible, even though it means parkin' the Topaz 22 miles outta town next to Silas Tankersley's scrap heap, an watchin' my flicks with a ten foot headphone cable danglin' across the livin' room that gets jerked outta the socket anytime Apollo runs into it while tearin' through the house chasin' a horsefly. It's pitiful, every few hours Skunky'll show up an plaster his face up against the window an end up leavin' this greasy mugshot that looks like somebody left a bucket of KFC sittin' on it for a week an a half. Generally when this happens, I've already dived down in front of the hide-a-bed an kicked the TV off. Bein' that you can hear his 1974 Hesston tractor comin' from three miles away, it's not too tough to avoid detection. Accordin' to Sadie Bonebreak, he wants my "expertise" to make his maze good an "scary," on account of my bein' the trusted local expert, which is exactly the kinda crapola he tries to butter you up with when he wants you to work for free. Now, for those of you that've never had the pleasure of tourin' Skunky's "ranch," just imagine the kinda death hole you'd get if it were Jigsaw instead of Old MacDonald who had a farm, only the traps're all incidental an the guy has no idea they exist cause he's dumber'n a can of expired peaches. That place scares the crap outta me enough when it's light outside, an I don't see how I'm supposed to top his existin' setup involvin' partially eroded Model T chassis, rusty barbed wire, busted beer bottles, badger holes so big you could lose a cow down 'em, an that giant crucified Jesus carvin' that used to be up on toppa the church before some teenagers stole it an drove it around town in their pickup screamin' somethin' about Jesus bein' their co-pilot. Last thing I need is any kinda association with that place once the lawsuits start flyin' like rage spittle on an AM radio broadcast. Nuh uh, not this time, that guy's on his own, even if it means callin' in to work for the next three weeks an pretendin' to have the superflu from The Stand.

But more important than all that, I'm stayin' in the spirit of the season an honorin' my vow to keep the crapola offa the website for the entire month of October, an in continuin' with that all too brief tradition, we got The Amityville Horror, the haunted house movie by which all other creaky floor-board movies are judged. I gotta be honest, haunted house movies an vampire movies both pretty much cause my eyes to glaze over like a honey basted ham, but Amityville has a pretty good sized fanbase, so I've isolated a few of its more lasting bits of wisdom to try keepin' those of you who share my feelins about it awake until the summary gets underway. First, it's possible that wakin' up at 3:15 in the AM every mornin' is not the result of eatin' a bad burrito, although if the burrito ain't the culprit, you'll wish it were. Second, never assume you're capable of blessin' a house yourself if you haven't been trained. Tryin' to do this on your own is like thinkin' you can knock out Sugar Ray Leonard just cause you've watched Rocky fifteen times. An third, you could wake up Murray Hamilton in the middle of the night, tell 'im his house was on fire, point out that his TV set's fused to the floor, an not even when he heard the sounds of fire engines screamin' down the street would he believe you.

But while we're on the subject, has anybody else noticed just how stupid you'd have to be to trust anybody sellin' somethin' that costs more'n $2.99? These real estate agents, I tell ya, they're gettin' purt'near as bad as used car salesmen. I mean, sure, they might be able to put one over on ya by stickin' a throw rug over the pentagram burned into the hardwood floor in the livin' room, but people tend to talk to each other, an the next thing you know, ain't nobody gonna agree to buy anything from 'em without gettin' a Housefax history report that's been notarized by Zelda Rubinstein. How much you suppose THAT'S gonna cost ya? If these people had any integrity, when they discovered the portal to Hell in the basement, they'd just call in Max Von Sydow an Jason Miller to get Sinfried back where be belongs, toss a VHS copy of Tammy Faye Bakker's greatest skits down there, an seal it up with quick dryin' cement mixed with holy water. But no... nope, can't do that, that'd cut into the profit margin. So then what happens? The family eventually finds Satan walled up in the basement next to the sump pump, an they sue. Then you've got a buncha stuffy, tone deaf men with all the charisma of Ben Stein standin' around a court room, til the prosecutor inevitably says: "Your honor, I intend to prove to the court that the defendants, representing one 'Happy Housewife Realty', misrepresented this home as being free of The Devil, when in reality, the defendants conspired to conceal The Prince of Darkness from my clients. Despite knowing full well that they were opposed to demonic possession, and devil's food snack cakes." Then the defense attorney'd prolly stand up an say somethin' like: "your honor, my clients did in fact know about the Satanic infestation plaguing the lower quarter of this house, however, I have receipts here proving they paid exorcism fees to one 'Jindal's Spiritual Cleansing Company', and believed the home to be in good karmic standing at the time of the sale." Of course, that's about when things go to pot for the defense, cause any prosecutor worth their dossier is gonna point out the numerous complaints from the Better Business Bureau regardin' Jindal's shoddy service record and the various reports of mishandling of funds. That's even before you factor in that if Happy Homemaker Realty actually believed that the problem had been taken care of, there'd be no reason to build a border fence to keep the illegal Hellions out, an before too long, Happy Homemaker ends up filin' for Chapter 11. But that's what the business culture in America has become, unfortunately. These people're focused solely upon short term gains, an're either directly or indirectly in bed with ole Red Jammies. It's a real shame to see how far we've fallen since Eisenhower, but denyin' it ain't gonna fix anything.

The movie begins with this lunatic shotgunnin' his entire family for gettin' 'im an ugly tie instead of a new set of golf clubs on Father's Day, til the paramedics show up to haul the bodies back to the morgue so the mortician'll have somethin' to set his food on. Then we fast forward one year into the future where James Brolin an Margot Kidder're scopin' out the house with this dumpy real estate lady. You could get away with bein' a dumpy real estate lady back then, cause people still had enough money to purchase homes without bein' pressured into it through the repeated use of cleavage. So once James an Margot've seen as much shag carpet an wallpaper that looks like Christmas gift wrap as they can stand, Margot tells James that she really likes the place, other'n the whole stench of death thing that's become permanently entwined in the house's aura. James tells 'er to quit bein' a sissy an promises to take some steel wool an Pine-Sol to the indelible sense of evil permeatin' the walls. About a month later they finally close on the house after a lengthy bidding war with Amy Fisher, at which point Father Rod Steiger shows up to wave crucifixes around an soak the place with holy water so Satan won't want the place no more (this's kinda like the religious equivalent of lickin' the food on somebody else's plate so they'll let you have it). Unfortunately, The Big Red Machine has other plans, an Rod ends up gettin' locked in one of the bedrooms where Brimstone Britches unleashes a swarm of red-eyed demon insects an turns Rod into the Lord of the Flies, before orderin' 'im to get his holy hinder outta there. Later that night, once Rod's burped up a coupla dozen flies, he tries callin' the family to warn 'em, cept when he does the phone starts makin' noises like two dogs fightin' over a chunk of styrofoam, an pretty quick he develops palmorrhea an hasta go buy some antibiotics an a rubber glove. The next day, Margot's tryin' to do ballet in 'er underpants, when James accidentally scares the chaines out of 'er an they decide to go tenderize the mattress. Unfortunately, the youngest child (Amy) shows up so disturbed that she doesn't even inquire about Margot's exceptionally loud prayers or why the room smells like the back row at a drive-in, an Margot hasta try gettin' 'er back in bed before James' knicker sticker turns to Silly Putty. Then James wakes up at 3:15AM an hasta go out to the boathouse an make sure Margot's kids haven't been pawin' at the nudie calendar on his toolbox cause he don't wanna get ratted out an cut off. A coupla days later, Margot comes home from the store to find James sweatin' like Richard Simmons watchin' A Chorus Line after havin' split approximately nine cords of green pine, an he's not at all pleased when she sneaks up on 'im in 'er 1978 Chevy van. Which makes sense, cause that shouldn't be possible.

So James gets his hash settled down an helps carry the groceries in, but once that crisis's taken care of, Margot tries callin' up Rod to find out why 'er blessin' got put on backorder, an learns from his understudy (Father Bolen) that Rod's been sick ever since he ate a box of moldy communion wafers. Fortunately, Margot's aunt is a nun, an even though havin' a nun bless your house is like bein' handed a roast beef sandwich when you ordered a rib-eye steak, Margot'll take whatever she can get at this point. I'll bet if she'd sent one of 'er prepubescent boys to set up the appointment for 'er blessin' it woulda got done right the first time, but I don't wanna be vulgar. Cept Auntie Nun's got an even lower tolerance for the demonic dust bunnies in the air than Rod did, an hasta flee the house immediately when she's struck by the Satanic shits. The next evenin', James is pilin' wood on the fire an rockin' back an forth like Leo Mazzone durin' a world series game at Turner Field cause he's freezin' his ass off even though it's 85 degrees inside, which ultimately results in James bein' unable to start the engine on his little Brolin, an forces Margot to sort out 'er own orgasmic grievances. The next day, Rod an Bolen try drivin' back to Chateau Death Row to warn the family about the Devil in the detailing, cept their car has someplace else it's gotta be, an pretty quick it starts swirvin' all over the road like Jesus took the wheel after 13 Tequila shooters, til it eventually comes to rest in somebody's hedges. It's just as well, cause James an Margot gotta be at 'er little brother's Jewish wedding, only it's abundantly clear that the kid's the worst Jew in the history of Judaism when he loses the money that he's supposed to give to the caterer, an James hasta pull his tuchus outta the fire an pay the bill. Meanwhile, Amy's at home pretendin' to be sick cause she ain't about to go to no weddin' reception that don't serve pork, only she ends up bein' pretty well home alone when the babysitter (who's got more metal in 'er mouth than Old Dirty Bastard) gets locked in the closet an goes to pieces like a package of crackers in a clam chowder hut. Back at the party, the caterer's hasslin' James about gettin' a check instead of cash cause he's gonna have to cash it at the Safeway on account of his bank account bein' watched by the IRS, an James tells 'im where he can stick his hors-d'oeuvres. They see him Brolin, they hatin'. Then they go home an let the babysitter outta the closet, only by this point her brain's pretty much melted like a Hershey bar in a glove box, an now she's actin' like Sissy Spacek in the shower scene from Carrie.

Two days later, Rod's in the bishop's office demandin' to know when the heck they're gonna make Pitch their bitch for showin' up on their turf, only the head church guy's played by Murray Hamilton who was the mayor in Jaws, so he tells Rod that it was prolly just a school of bluefish he heard tellin' 'im to drink the blood of virgins, an that he should take a vacation. Three days later, James' business partner comes by the house to ask if he'd rather be shot or hung by his employees for not gettin' the payroll done on time, an James gets P.O.'d cause he's got another semi-load of lodgepole bein' trucked in that he's gotta split before lunch. Then a window comes down on one of the kids' hands while he's terrorizin' his sister with a rubber spider, an James can't seem to raise it up no matter how hard he tries. Margot appears relieved that it ain't just the one thing he can't seem to get up. So they head to the hospital to get the kid's paw back to its usual size an go home to try gettin' some shut eye, but James' internal alarm clock goes off at 3:15 again, an this time he wanders into the spare bedroom to audition for the lead role in The Return of the Flies, only when he tries crackin' a window half the doors in his house get blown off their hinges like they'd been tryin' to confine a claustrophobic hillbilly inside an outhouse. Naturally, when he heads back upstairs, the flies've all flown south for the winter to get stuck in that sticky spiral paper that hangs from the ceilins of trailer houses, so James calls in the cranky old Sergeant from the haunted house division, an he tells James that his doors're all busted outwards, suggestin' a break out rather than a break in, an asks if he's seen Swing Out Sister prowlin' around recently. The next day, James's lookin' like George Eastman after partyin' with Keith Richards for the last three days, an decides to try figurin' things out before the cops bust 'im for suspicion of heroin addiction. So he hops on his bike an gets some blueprints from City Hall an steals a book on devil flies from the library. He coulda prolly just gotten a library card, cept gettin' caught with one of those'd prolly get 'im mercilessly razzed by the guys in his motorcycle club. Then Margot tries callin' the church again to see if their Rod or their staff can provide some comfort, 'cept the Dean of Mean gets into the phone line an gags Rod with Satanic long distance charges, an pretty quick Margot starts imaginin' phantom Torgos with six-packs of Miller High Life welcomin' 'er to the neighborhood. Elsewhere, James's beatin' up Jeff at the bar til he starts feelin' a little better, an decides to fill 'im in on what's been happenin' back at the House of Axe, an after hearin' about crosses invertin' themselves an doors snappin' off their hinges, Jeff determines that all this domestic voodoo can be easily sorted out by a night on the town.

So Jeff an his wife (Carolyn) go home with James to watch the kids on account of their usual babysitter currently laughin' it up with Jack Nicholson an Heath Ledger over at the psych ward, only Carolyn has these mystical hippy juju receptors in 'er brain that draw 'er towards this concrete wall in the basement that the family's dog's been barkin' at for the last two weeks. She tells James that somethin' wicked from that way comes, so James grabs up a pickaxe an Gorbachevs the wall down, an as it turns out, there just happens to be a gateway to Hell on the other side that the real estate lady conveniently neglected to mention, cause every time she ran the property values on the place with the 9 circles of Hell factored in, the resale value tanked. Then James an Margot try blessin' the house themselves, only that kinda thing requires some serious Jesus boot camp trainin' if you really wanna fight Demon Wayans effectively, an pretty quick the Red Guy gets P.O.'d an covers Margot's face with herpes. Five days later, Rod's pretty much at his wit's end, so he goes into the chapel to talk things over with His Godness. Unfortunately, he keeps imaginin' this load bearin' angel statue that holds the roof up like a saintly truss is crackin' up like Red Skelton durin' a live TV broadcast, an the next thing you know he's blinder'n a referee at a New England Patriots game. The next mornin', James ends up havin' 'imself a little psychotic break when he realizes that after the first woodshed an the second woodshed, there's only one woodshed left, an the only way he can get calmed down again is to smack the crap outta Margot for showin' concern about the pumpkin' pie fillin' that's dribblin' out of his ankle. Then Margot tries to call Rod again, but Rod's not takin' on any new clients until he can learn to walk around the pews without bangin' the crap out of his shins, so she goes to the newspaper office to squint at the microfiche article from the night the previous owners went cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, at which point 'er eyes swell up to the size of hubcaps when the realizes the guy in the article looks just like James. Which I didn't personally think was that big a deal, cause if you ever go out to the huntin' lodge on Bearcrack Mountain I'd defy you to find a guy that DON'T look like James Brolin does in this movie, but Margot seems pretty alarmed, so we'd better cut it off here. I know, kinda cruel given that somethin' was damn near about to finally happen in this movie, but those're the rules.

Alrighty, well, kinda tame by today's standards, but in the '70s this one was considered to be pretty scary, and was also one of the highest grossing independent films ever made. Which makes sense, given that the book it was based upon was a tremendous success that could be enjoyed by believers and skeptics alike. The story has long been completely debunked, with countless discrepancies showing up between the Lutzes' story and reality. Just a few of which include: claims of physical damage to certain parts of the house, only to have the subsequent owners point out that the things that were allegedly damaged were in fact original to the house, the claim that the house was built on a site where the Shinnecock Indians used to abandon the sick (which the Shinnecock deny), the cloven footprints alleged to be found in snow on a day where no snow was recorded, and the fact that police records indicate they were never called to the scene, despite claims to the contrary in the book. Still, if one looks at the popularity of TV series like Ghost Hunters or Ancient Aliens, you're quickly reminded of how irrelevant facts become when there's a good story to be told, and this IS a good story, if nothing else. Originally, The Amityville Horror was to be a made for TV movie that would have aired on the CBS network, but somebody with a remarkable grasp of the obvious bought the rights and turned it into an independent film, which as of today has grossed over 85 million bucks. The weird part is that it still looks like a made for TV movie, and does virtually nothing to warrant the R rating the MPAA slapped on it. I just love that, Jaws gets a PG, and The Amityville Horror gets an R, that makes perfect sense, don't it? They were both made in that period where the PG-13 rating didn't exist, otherwise they both probably would've gotten it, but seriously, this movie is supposed to be more disturbing than Jaws? No, I think what happened here was what happened with the Friday the 13th sequels, that being, the movie had way too much name recognition for being "scary", and they slapped an R on it solely for that reason. I also wonder if The Texas Chainsaw Massacre effect wasn't in play here, which is where people watch it and believe they saw a lot more than they really did. Got a little domestic violence here and there when James Brolin loses track of his coconut, small amounts of extremely fake blood (until the finale where there's quite a bit, and it actually looks decent), no f-bombs that I recall hearing (that's a big no-no, way worse than killing someone), and half a boob. One last bit of trivia I'd like to mention before moving on is the rumor that the crew was originally slated to film in the actual Amityville house, but backed out because they were chickenstuff. This, of course, is complete bunk. I gather that American International had intended to do at least some of the filming in the town of Amityville, but what prevented that from happening was the town refusing to be involved with that sort of publicity, and disallowing the production company from filming anywhere inside their city limits.

Okay then, let's dive into the cesspool an find out if that black crapola's licorice, or runoff from the sewage treatment plant down the road. The plot was pretty good for its time, but the passing of years hasn't been kind to it. These days, you'd have to consider it extremely old hat, with a story that has since been duplicated time and again with bigger budgets and better special effects. And while I get what they were trying to do with the whole "the family lasted 28 days in the house" angle wherein the movie keeps us up to speed on where we are within that timeline, the movie drags terribly. There's just no nice way to say it. Yeah, it's a classic, but the pacing here is more akin to a movie from the 1940s, and frankly, it's about 20 minutes too long. The acting is undoubtedly what saves it from the toilet bowl, and it had to, because there's little else here capable of having the kind of impact necessary to do so. James Brolin is excellent in his slow descent into madness, with Margot Kidder also giving a standout performance as the stressed out mother and wife tryin' to keep the foundering ship afloat. And of course, Rod Steiger is great as the frustrated priest whom the church high sheriffs won't believe when he claims the devil's infested the Lutzes' house. The only character that really doesn't work is the grizzled, cigar chompin' police sergeant. Not because Val Avery didn't portray the character well, but because the character is ultimately irrelevant to the story. Kinda reminds you of Lee Cobb from The Exorcist, except that that role almost mattered.

Here's who matters and why (decided that all the names here, despite some being somewhat recognizable, could probably use some further elaboration): James Brolin (Category 7: The End of the World, The Haunted Sea, Nightmare on the 13th Floor, Capricorn One, The Car), Margot Kidder (Superman I - IV, Black Christmas, Halloween II 2009, The Clown at Midnight, Shadow one: My Teacher Ate My Homework), Rod Steiger (Modern Vampires, Mars Attacks!, The Kindred, American Gothic, The Illustrated Man), Don Stroud (Sutures, The Haunted Sea, Dance with the Devil, The Alien Within, Carnosaur 2, Frogtown II, Legend of the Roller Blade Seven 1 - 3, Hyper Space, The House by the Lake), Murray Hamilton (Jaws 1 & 2, Too Scared to Scream, Hysterical, Mazes and Monsters, Damnation Alley, Seconds), John Larch (A Fire in the Sky, Bad Ronald), Natasha Ryan (The Entity, Kingdom of the Spiders, The Day Time Ended, Good Against Evil), K.C. Martel (E.T., Bloody Birthday, The Munsters' Revenge, The Power Within), Meeno Peluce (Voyager from the Unknown, Don't Go Near the Park), Michael Sacks (Starflight: The Plane that Couldn't Land, Slaughterhouse-Five), Helen Shaver (The Craft, Tremors 2, The Believers, Starship Invasions), Val Avery (Out of the Darkness, Too Scared to Scream, The Legend of Hillbilly John), Marc Vahanian (Final Examination, Venomous, Dead of Night), Elsa Raven (Back to the Future, Creator, Twilight Zone: The Movie), Hank Garrett (Maniac Cop 2, Blood Frenzy, The Midnight Hour, The Exorcist II, The Sentinel), James Tolkan (Back to the Future 1 - 3, Bone Tomahawk, Robo Warriors, Second Sight, Masters of the Universe, Iceman, Nightmares, WarGames, Wolfen, The Werewolf of Washington), Peter Maloney (Thinner, Manhunter, The Children, The Thing), Richard Hughes (The Manhattan Project), James Dukas (The Stuff, God Told Me To), Baxter Harris (Species II, The Langoliers, Candyman), Michael Stearns (Battle for the Planet of the Apes).

Naturally, when you've got a big hit on your hands, it tends to give the actors involved the kinda boost that leads them into less reputable types of movies, and there are enough of them here that I simply cannot muster the will to shame them all on an individual level. So here's a second batch of casting credits for all the wimps out there who're still hiding their political affiliations from their crazier family members in an effort to avoid rocking the boat: James Brolin (Dr. Steven Kiley from the TV series Marcus Welby M.D., Peter McDermott from the TV series Hotel, Jack Barnes in Catch Me if You Can, Lt. Col. Bill Kelly from the series Pensacola: Wings of Gold, and John Blane in Westworld), Margot Kidder (the voice of Gaia from Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and the voice of Rebecca Madison in Phantom 2040), Rod Steiger (Charley Malloy in On the Water Front, Gillespie in In the Heat of the Night, and Komorovsky in Doctor Zhivago), Don Stroud (Captain Pat Chambers on The New Mike Hammer TV series with Stacy Keach), Murray Hamilton (Mr. Robinson in The Graduate, Findley in The Hustler), John Larch (The Chief in Dirty Harry, and Sgt. Callum in Play Misty for Me), K.C. Martel (Eddie on Growing Pains), Meeno Peluce (Jeffrey Jones on Voyagers!), Michael Sacks (Maxwell Slide in The Sugarland Express), Helen Shaver (Janelle in The Color of Money, Rachel Corrigan on Poltergeist: The Legacy), Amy Wright (Rose Leary in The Accidental Tourist), Eddie Barth (Myron Fowler on the series Simon & Simon, and the voice of Frank the Dog on Men in Black: The Series), Hank Garrett (Ashwell from Max Headroom, Ed Nicholson from Car 54 Where Are You?, and the voice of Dial Tone in the G.I. Joe cartoon), Michael Hawkins (Frank Ryan in the series Ryan's Hope). So yeah, it may've helped a few careers.

The special effects really don't show up until the last five minutes of the movie, and I suppose you could argue that the overall lack of them isn't that big of a deal, since thematically, the flick is functioning more on a psychological level. It's a bit old fashioned in that sense, and for that reason, if it did have more special effects (at least gory ones) they might come off as gratuitous, as the entire crux of the movie is based upon the unseen. That said, what we've got is a very small amount of that overly bright 1970s blood concoction, some red eyes floating outside a window, and a badly superimposed image of a demon (or something) that shows up outside one of the windows. There is some good stuff after my description cuts off, but I think it goes without saying that the special effects were an afterthought in this one, and are easily its weakest aspect. The shooting locations are alright, with the house itself, obviously, being the setting for the majority of the movie. I like the house alright enough, but I tend to like most homes from this era of film because of all the nostalgia involved with the retro decor. More interesting are the occasional outdoor scenes of the house's yard, as they feature great cinematography and the use of autumn colors, but the house itself is the most important location, and it's really just adequate. There's also a bar, a church, and a library, which are fine but not particularly memorable. Honestly, the best location is Pleasure Park, which is across the street from the church used in the movie. Beautiful place, and well photographed. The soundtrack, given the layout of the film, absolutely had to be exceptional for the movie to work, and Lalo Schifrin nailed it. Lalo's a guy whose name you don't hear much, which is strange given that he's composed soundtracks on over 200 movies and TV shows. What's particularly impressive is his range, because he's done scores for every movie genre under the sun, many of which become major hits. Horror isn't really the guy's forte, but he did do the scores for The Manitou, Day of the Animals, Good Against Evil, and Class of 1984, so he's no stranger. But the soundtrack for Amityville has to be his best horror score, and it's one that I find to be criminally underrated. Every track fits into its corresponding scene perfectly, and it has the added bonus of having that ever elusive main theme that's both haunting and catchy. Overall, Amityville is a well crafted movie on a technical level, but one that's just too long, and a bit dry for me personally. If the length had been trimmed and it'd been jazzed up a little bit it could've been superb, but as it is, it's pretty slow and a bit dull. Still, it's the quintessential haunted house flick, so if that's a subgenre you enjoy, definitely check it out if you haven't. If you're a bit on the impatient side, and don't particularly care about a movie based upon its historical significance, you'd probably do well to skip it.

Rating: 64%