Welcome to another Fear Friday here at the Laughing Vixen Lounge blog. All of the films in October will be some of the best Classic Scares in movie history. This week's selection is a 70's favorite based on a bestselling book that claimed to be true. True or not, 35 years later it's still a great example of a classic horror tale. Enjoy!
Every Friday at the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog is Fear Friday. Fear Fridays are a celebration of all films spooky. Horror is a very broad genre and the Lounge loves it all. Each Friday you will find a review of a different film. These can range from Classic Horror (black and white and cheesy), Thrillers (suspense, jumps and a good mystery), outright Horror (chop chop, slash slash, die die) and anything else in between.
So pop some popcorn, kill the lights and enjoy tonight's selection. And please, share your comments on the film. Bad or good let me now what you thought of it. And now, my little ghouls and dolls, the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog is proud to present this week's film.
October - Classic Scares
Fear Friday - The Amityville Horror
Tagline - "For God's Sake, Get Out!"
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke and Brubaker) and released on July 27, 1979 by American International Pictures (rated R). When the Lutz family (James Brolin and Margot Kidder) moves in to their dream house they have no idea the Hell that awaits them. As strange events start to happen the family is desperate to save their house and their sanity.
When something seems too good to be true it probably is. So when George and Kathy Lutz are offered their dream house at a huge discount something is probably wrong. And there is! The family before them was brutally murdered in the house. The Lutzes decided they can live with the history and purchase the house. It does not take long before they regret their decision. The Lutz family lived in the house, also known as "High Hopes", for only 28 days. Their experiences there will become the stuff of horror legend.
Much has been debated about the accounts of what happened at the house at 112 Ocean Ave in Amityville, NY as told by the Lutz family. What is true? Unfortunately the brutal murders were real. 13 months before, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six members of his family in the house. His defense was an insanity plea saying he heard voices. Yes, the Lutz family was a real family who purchased the house in 1975 after the DeFeo's. In 1977 the book The Amityville Horror, written by Jay Anson and based on the recorded accounts told by George and Kathy Lutz, was published and become a huge bestseller. George and Kathy maintained their story, changed on some accounts for the book and movie, was true and did happen to them. They both took a lie detector test and both passed. Their son, Daniel, was interview for the documentary "My Amityville Horror" and insist that it all happened.
|The Real Amityville House -1974|
Now days the consensus is that the story was fictional. One of the most damning accusations came from William Weber, the defense attorney for Ronald DeFeo Jr., who claimed in a People Magazine article in 1979 to have had a meeting with the Lutzes where they "created" the story over many bottles of wine. According to the Lutzes they met with Weber hoping to find out more about the events that had happened in their house. They agreed to tell him their story thinking that their experiences in the house may help his client receive the medical help he needed if, in fact, he had been under the influence of the presence in the house. But when Weber wanted to enter into a book deal with them that included part of the profits going the Ronald DeFeo Jr., the Lutzes declined. Could it just be hard feelings and greed that led to the claims that it was all a hoax?
There is an interesting site that has tried to show an accurate account of what happened to the Lutzes and sort out what did not take place. If you are curious you can find it here. It does provide some interesting information. What sticks in my mind is how even the children, now grown, have never waived from the events being true. And for both George and Kathy to pass the lie detector test if it was a hoax is pretty impressive.
|The Real Amityville House - 2005|
Whether or not the story is true it made for one heck of a good horror story. The movie may be a bit dated by today's standards and might not be as action packed as people are used to but do not let that fool you. It is a great haunted house story with all the chills needed to give you the creeps. But if you really want to get the full freaked out experience then you have to read the book. It ranks right up there with the Shining as a story to not be read at night!!!
The movie spawned many sequels but none of them are really worth the watch. In 2005 there was a big budget remake with Ryan Reynolds and Mellisa George. At the time the makers of the film were boasting how they were going to be faithful to the book in their adaption. While Reynolds and George were great in the roles, and the movie had a good retro look, it varied greatly from the book. Sometimes so much it just made you shake your head in disbelief. Hollywood needs to remember that simple can be more effective than over the top.
The Amityville Horror is currently available to rent on Amazon and Vudu and should be available on most DVD services.
Take a look at the original trailer.
Some trivia about the movie.
1. Due to all the unwanted fame the book and film had brought upon the real house in Amityville, the current owners have replaced the "evil eyes" windows with normal rectangle-shaped windows.
2. At the time of its release the film was one of the highest grossing independent films of all time and American International Pictures' biggest hit.
3. While shooting the scene where Kathy is startled by the red eyes in the window, director Stuart Rosenberg wasn't impressed by Margot Kidder's reaction. According to Kidder, Rosenberg then tried to hold up a "a day-glo orange stuffed velour pig with glass eyes" in an attempt to startle Kidder. She said the result was only hysterical laughter, not fear.
4. Stars James Brolin and Margot Kidder visited the real Amityville house as part of a publicity junket.
5. Contrary to popular belief, Lalo Schifrin's score for this film was not the legendary rejected score composed for The Exorcist. The rejected Exorcist score has subsequently been released on CD and is completely different in every respect.
6. The outdoor scenes of the movie were not filmed in Amityville, Long Island, but rather Toms River, New Jersey. Local police and ambulance workers played extras.
7. This film's theatrical success was followed by two theatrically released sequels - Amityville II: The Possession an official sequel/prequel; Amityville 3-D, not an official sequel; and five direct-to-video low-budget sequels released from 1989 to 1996. Then there's The Amityville Horror, based on the book written by Jay Anson.
8. Jay Anson who wrote the book "The Amityville Horror" actually wrote out a screenplay for this film only for the producers to turn it down. Eventually they found Sandor Stern and liked his take on it so he was hired for the job.
9. The Toms River, New Jersey volunteer Fire Company Number One was used to provide the "rain" during one of the exterior scenes. If you look closely, you can see that it is sunny and not "raining" in the background, the next street over.
10. Even though James Brolin became friendly with George Lutz and his children, he was highly doubtful of their story.
11. James Brolin said he didn't get a job for two years after doing this movie because of the cruelty of his character.
12. Shot in seven weeks.
13. In hopes of creating more publicity for the film the studio would concoct stories of "weird" occurrences on the set of the film.
14. Honey was rubbed on Rod Steiger's head to draw the flies to him.
15. James Brolin's brother was actually used for the image of the bearded man seen appearing from the 'red room' in the cellar. The studio wanted someone who bore a close resemblance to James Brolin and discovered he had a brother who shared a strong resemblance to the star. Brolin's brother was applied with a fake beard for the bit part.
16. The film was originally planned to be a made-for-TV production for the CBS network, until executive producer Sam Arkoff bought the rights after reading Jay Anson's book in one sitting.
17. The church in the movie is St. Peter's church in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, about 20 miles north of the movie house in Toms River. They also used the park across the street from the church, Pleasure Park, for the priest playing basketball scene. They used local kids as players, and had to ask them to take it easy and let the priest get the ball from time to time.