Director – Damiano Damiani
Cast – James Olson, Jack Magner, Burt Young, Rutanya Alda, Andrew Prine, Diane Franklin, Moses Gunn
Release Year – 1982
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Three years after the cult success of The Amityville Horror, Italian director Damiano Damiani gave us Amityville II: The Possession, which I steadfastly believe to be BETTER than it’s predecessor. Based on the true events of the DeFeo family being murdered by their son Ronald, this film is actually in fact a prequel to the events taking place in The Amityville Horror, and the only of the films to actually have a factual basis to it’s plot. For some unfortunate reason this film never got the following that the original did, but this film goes much further and has more guts than the original, and that says something.
This film follows the Montelli family, who excitedly move into a new home in Amityville. Right from the get-go odd occurrences begin to happen around the home, but the family remains in denial despite the occurrences having a strong effect on them. Arguments, domestic violence, and even incest ensue, and the oldest son Sonny Montelli becomes possessed by the demon that previously inhabited the home. Thanks to the religious devotion of the mother, Dolores Montelli, the town’s priest Father Tom has become involved, and can sense that Sonny’s behavior is worsening, and whatever inside him is manifesting itself greatly. Soon enough Sonny finally loses it and does some very drastic things, and Father Tom is now in a battle against the inhabiting Sonny. With the Catholic church not standing by Father Tom’s side, he must go to lengths outside of church protocol to save Sonny’s soul.
It is easy to see how this film surpassed it’s predecessor, simply put…it did everything that it’s predecessor didn’t do. This film takes off right away, and really doesn’t slow down much throughout it’s 100 minute runtime. The first Amityville film was quite slow and didn’t really show us much of anything, there weren’t even any kills! This film strayed away from those borefest elements and not only gave us some pretty brutal kills(the nature of the kills), but gave us a lot more spirit/demon action. I really liked how the demon’s actions were shown a lot more during this film, especially with the creepy POV Evil Dead-esque cinematography involving the demon. It worked for this film. The possession scenes towards the end of the film were pretty damn epic. I was really surprised that this film went for the gore scenes at the end given I went into this flick with pretty low expectations. I wasn’t not overly impressed with The Amityville Horror, so I expected it’s lesser known sequel to be even less impressive, but I was proved wrong. I give much credit to director Damiano Damiani for this, and think just what good he could have done had it been him who directed the first installment to this franchise. Writer Tommy Lee Wallace adapted this film’s screenplay from author Hans Holzer’s novel, and had an equal part in making sure this film was enjoyable and exceeded the viewer’s expectations.
The film’s story is not the most complex story, but it was sufficient enough to keep my interest throughout the film. I really liked the last act of the film, the one involving Father Tom having to go outside of Church protocol to rid Sonny of the demon. The development up to this point in the film was tight and quite interesting, but as a fan of Catholic-driven horror…I really liked how the film went in this direction. The character interaction was also very well done. You can really see the toll the family takes at the hands of the home, the tension feels real, and at certain times it’s pretty horrifying to see. I also must once again applaud the filmmakers for including some taboo elements to this film that I believe added much to the horror in this flick. I wont go too much into detail because it would ruin the shock-value, but just know this…this film has guts.
Overall, this is a positive horror film that exceeded my expectations and in my opinion is BETTER than it’s well known predecessor, The Amityville Horror. Give this a watch and see for yourself.