“For God’s Sake, Get Out!”
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Based on the book The Amityville Horror: A True Story by Jay Anson
Stars James Brolin as George Lutz, Margot Kidder as Kathy Lutz, Natasha Ryan as Amy Lutz, K.C. Martel as Greg Lutz, Meeno Peluce as Matt Lutz, Rod Steiger as Father Delaney, Don Stroud as Father Bolen, Murray Hamilton as Father Ryan, John Larch as Father Nuncio, Michael Sacks as Jeff, Helen Shaver as Carolyn, Amy Wright as Jackie, Val Avery as Sgt. Gionfriddo and Irene Dailey as Aunt Helena and Marc Vahanian as Jimmy.
I never feel less at ease as a reviewer than when I’m reviewing one of my favourite films of all time. I was a kid when I first watched The Amityville Horror, I watched it numerous times back then and although it scared me I just loved it to death so there’s a big part of me wants to get this review right, I doubt I will. When I look at the scores this gets I just despair. It gets 6.2 on IMDb, not sure about that but it sounds pretty low, but it gets 24% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, 24%!! That’s actually offensive. One reviewer calls the film moronic, there’s even a little picture of his gormless face. Maybe I read it wrong and the word moronic was just a description of his picture, possible.
Anyway, The Amityville Horror is about what happens to the Lutz family, George, Kathy and their three children when they move into their new home 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York. It’s based on a ‘true’ story but I’m not getting into all that, as a kid I was convinced it was true and nothing can take that away whatever doubts I may have been force-fed as a grown-up. I haven’t read the book although I do intend to at some point (when it’s released for the Kindle probably) but I have seen all 12 films, including My Amityville Horror (2013), and I am really, really looking forward to the new one, Amityville (2015), starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, one of my favourite actresses.
The Lutz family move in one year after Ronald “Butch” DeFeo, Jr shoots and kills his entire family, his father, mother, two brothers and two sisters; this part of the story is absolutely true and the Lutz family did live there for 28 days. Father Delaney calls to bless the house and encounters some paranormal phenomena which forces him to leave. Numerous paranormal events happen to the Lutz family during their residency there but I don’t want to describe every single event, or any really, chances are you’ve already seen the film, perhaps like me many times, but even so, spoilers. Other people experience phenomena too, Kathy’s aunt who is a nun and the wife of George’s business partner, Carolyn.
The performances are great from all the cast, particularly James Brolin and Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger is outstanding. The cinematography is excellent throughout, the film looks simply superb. It’s important that things like the acting and cinematography are so good as this film isn’t gory and the special effects are fairly minimal, it has its moments though and plenty of atmosphere. The look of the house itself, like the house in Psycho (1960), is unforgettable, an integral part of the film.
The Amityville films have had their ups and downs and to this day nothing has come close to the first two films, this and Amityville II: The Possession (1982). The first two films are perfect in my opinion, they just have something the others lack. I’ve never been able to decide which of the first two films I prefer, I love them both equally.
So, acting, cinematography, atmosphere, story, this film has it all. What kind of tool would say it’s moronic? Oh yeah, I forgot, it was a caption. The Amityville Horror is a classic, you might not put it up there with The Shining (1980) or Poltergeist (1982) but I do. I think it’s a film that’s right up there with the best. Is it a true story? I don’t care. Maybe. Is it a brilliant film? It is. What more do you want? Cheese on it?
Did I get this review right? I don’t think so really, told you I wouldn’t! I might come back to it next time I watch The Amityville Horror.