Director – Stuart Rosenberg
Cast – James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger, Don Stroud, Murray Hamilton, John Larch
Release Year – 1979
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Ah yes, the infamous Amityville Horror, the film based on “true events” told by a man who’s family basically went insane and was attacked by a house they moved into after a family was murdered there but one of their children years before.(story it is based on, not exactly the plot of the film) It is an interesting story, although never officially proved, it has never factually been disproved, which always leads to us haunted house addicts wanting it to be true. Either way, I’m sure Hollywood absolutely adores any whacked out story based on “true events” that they can somehow turn into a profitable movie.
This film follows the Lutz family as they move into a home with a horrific past that they wish to put behind themselves, and make a fresh start as newlyweds. All is well at first, but soon George(James Brolin) begins to change and act not quite himself, which includes acting very snide and violent towards his family(see a connecting to “The Shining” here?). As time goes he George is progressively overwhelmed by whatever force is still residing that house, and in the next 28 days they learn it wants them either out, or DEAD.
This film has quite a bit going for it given it was made in the late 70s(era of infamous horror lore), and who will forget seeing Superman’s wife(Margot Kidder played Lois Lane in the first four Superman films) in her panties doing ballet stretches.(hehe) This film manages to pull off the “creepy haunted house” feel, with our characters hearing voices telling them to “get out!”, as well as blood dripping from the walls and inanimate objects causing physical pain to those in the house, but that is about it really.
I did not like how the main plot of this story seemed to branch off but yet always lead to absolutely nothing. For instance, the daughter “Amy” being paid visits by “Jody”, who was one of the children killed before they moved into the home. Sure it was creepy that she was being visited by this spirit, but not only do we never see the spirit…NOTHING “significant”(keyword) involving the spirit ever happens! We are also lead down this path with the police detective as well. We are forced to witness him try and investigate the house, yet his characterization in this film leads absolutely nowhere and should have been left out of the script. I will also do you gorehounds out there a favor and let you know now, there are absolutely no deaths in this film(which is surprising for a 70s horror flick), all you will witness are a few people getting hurt and one person going blind. I am not complaining however(“The Shining“ had one death and still managed to be an amazing horror film), but I’m sure it would have helped add some sort of excitement to this film.
I honestly found myself quite bored with this film. The first half of the film was interesting as it was developing the story, but we are introduced to too much side plots and useless dialogue that this film should have done without. This film is a few minutes shy of two hours in length, and I honestly believe this film would have benefited had director Stuart Rosenberg shaved the final cut down at least 20 minutes.
I did like the scenes involving the house keeping the priest and the nun from helping the family with the home, but even those scenes could not save this film from being used as an alternative to sleeping pills.
Overall, check this flick out if you are interested in classic horror flicks, but don’t look for this to be overly exciting or as beautiful to watch as “The Shining”.