The Amityville Horror boxed set review by The Grim Ringler

Sure, sure, there have been a lot of haunted house movies, and even a couple franchises from them (well, maybe just House counts) but none are as famous as the haunting of 112 Oceanview, what has become known as the Amityville Horror house. Whether real or imagined, the haunting reported there has created a myth all its own that has spread itself over, jeepers, far too many films and has wedged itself firmly in the American psyche. In honor of the vastly disappointing remake of the original MGM has released a boxed set of the first three Amityville films as well as a fourth disc that has a couple of docs about the hauntings, and as sets go, well, Ive seen far, far better. But I suppose there must be worse. The problem here is that beyond the first film, there really is nothing to get that interested in. Sure, the second film has its moments, but thats about it. Past that, well

The Amityville Horror

The one that started it all, as they say. The tale of a familys dreams turning into a nightmare, this is the movie that created the sensation. Based on the bestseller of the same name, this tells the story of the Lutz family, the unfortunate folks who took up residence in 112 Oceanview after Ronald DeFeo brutally murdered his family there. Insisting that a house is a house, and that it holds no dark memories of the murders. They are wrong, and within twenty-eight days know that all too well. The father, George descends into madness, the daughter sees an imaginary friend who happens to be a demonic pig and the rest of the clan become more and more enclosed within the house. And on that twenty-eighth day the house and the family have a war that nearly destroys all inside, the family only just able to escape. They never return for their possessions.

A great, solid thriller with a pretty solid performance by James Brolin. You have to appreciate how smart the film was made, letting the house slowly show its strength and saving its major attack for the end. I would still love to see a full-on remake of this, with new effects Jody, the dark figure George sees and all but this is the definitive version of the film. Methodical, emotional, and scary. And what great freaking music. Sure, it devolves into Exorcist with the sub-plot, but I can forgive it.


Amityville The Posession

The story of the DeFeo family who resided in 112 Oceanview before the Lutzes and had the unfortunate honor of being the foundation for the rumors of haunting and evil that still linger to this day. This is a fictionalized version of what really happened, making Ronnie, the son who murdered his family, become possessed and commit unspeakable acts before killing his family. The stuff with the family is hard to watch and is very grim. And things only get worse when Ronnie and his sister dip into the incest pool. Ick. But as solid as the beginning is, the film strays and turns into another Exorcist riff with a priest trying to sacrifice himself to save Ronnie. I appreciate that the film doesnt give us a happy ending of any sort, but throwing demon possession and exorcism and all is just a cheap way to cash in on an established franchise. Man, you have this amazing house, and this amazing TRUE story, why not make a crime thriller that veers off to SUPPOSE what might have happened. The great ending is that this family who had High Hopes as the sign in front of the house says, was killed in their sleep, in a creepy and suspicious manner, and their son isnt sure he did it or whether he was told by voices to do it. How do you beat that ending? Answer you dont.


Amityville 3-D

Desperate to breath life into a dying franchise De Laurentis makes this on in THREEEEEEEE DEEEEEEEEE. Eh, big deal. While I will grant that this is a rare film where the 3-D tricks add something to the direction, I doubt this was that exciting in three dimensions. Why the hell do they waste that? Why not go all out? Spewing stuff. Monsters in your face. Flying axes and spewing blood. Ack. This one wasnt nearly as bad as I had expected but it apes Poltergeist far too much and, again, loses sight of the interesting mythos that the house already has built into it. The story is about a recently divorced father who buys the haunted house on the cheap not believing that its haunted, blah, blah, blah, and who loses his daughter to it. Only theres something about a demon in a well and blah, blah, blah. Its an interesting movie but it tries SOOO hard to be Poltergeist that it gets painful. And man, Tony Roberts needs to learn some emoting. Brother loses a best friend and a daughter and is like eh, it happens. He seems to get more worked up over the notion that his pad is haunted. Wha? Youre kidding me, right? The scares are low, there is an interesting story here, but its buried beneath a lot of fakery and special effects. Sigh, its as if they lost sight of what made the first film a success completely and just jumped on whatever movie was popular at the time.


The fourth disc boasts two docs about the hauntings in the home. Both are solid and hold your interest, though I wish they got more interview footage from the Lutzes and that they had tried to get some sort of footage of the house itself. Ack. But its interesting. And they have the obligatory tie in to the remake, which rings hollow after knowing it bites.

All in all a decent set, but not really worth any price unless you are getting the free movie ticket, which, hell, in retrospect, it still isnt worth it. The first two films are interesting, the last is pretty lame but watchable and at least ends the series as a trilogy. Well, tried to at least. If youre a fan then I am sure youll love the stuff here, otherwise, trade tricks for treats at the last house on the left.

All told 7


7 out of 10 Jackasses
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