Moving into their dream house, the Lutz family start to settle
in and make a home. This house has a history however, as a year earlier
a bloody massacre took place there, as the eldest son killed the whole family
in their beds. He claimed that a voice had told him to do it. As George
(Brolin) and Kathy (Kidder) unpack and try and make the house their own,
strange things start to occur and the family start to think that an evil
force maybe gaining control.
Based on the real life experiences of the Lutz family in Amityville,
Long Island but does the 1979 film version of the events still have what
it takes to send a chill through your spine?
The story of the Lutz family's twenty-eight day ordeal in
that now infamous house has become one of the most famous supernatural tales
ever. Rigorously researched and studied since the events took place in 1974,
Lutz family have been called the biggest hoaxers in history or the victims
of an unbelievably evil presence. What is true is that something drove them
from that house and they have never returned since.
The film is based on the novel by Jay Anson, who chronicled
the events witnessed by the Lutz family in the 70s. The movie deals with
the evil presence that emanated from the house and how it affected the Lutz
family. We witness George been dragged into madness, daughter Amy's imaginary
friend Jody and the influences this friend has on the young girl and her
family, Kathy's feelings of abandonment by her family and church in a time
of need and the way everyone who visits the house instantly feels uncomfortable.
This generates a level of creepiness and suspense for the two thirds of
the movie that will have you on the edge of your seat but after this the
budget level and the limitations of the story start to set in.
Discoveries about the house in the latter part of the movie
reveal the special effects restrictions of the time because as presence
becomes more and more visible you release you are watching a low budget
feature. As the modern audience are bombarded by CGI affects, some argue
that the make-up and model techniques of old are better than anything generated
by a computer and long for the special effects wizards to return to these
methods. This film will show you why we shouldn't return to those heady
days. Here we see some completely awful compositing and at one point we
are expected to react with terror while looking at two small yellow light
bulbs. We also have an abode of evil which is just a room painted red. These
limitations really bring down the credibility of the film and dissolve all
of the suspense and object terror that the film had built up.
The failure of the special effects takes nothing away from
the performances of James Brolin and Margot Kidder. Brolin is exceptional
as George Lutz. We see him physically and mentally deteriorate before our
very eyes as the house starts to play tricks with his mind until he teeters
on the verge of a complete breakdown. This is commanding and powerful performance
from Brolin and one of the great character performances in horror. The same
can be said about Margot Kidder. As he world starts to fall apart in front
of her, we realise that there was more to Kidder than just 'Lois Lane'.
These two performances make the film more watchable than it should have
been. Both Brolin and Kidder bring a realism and sense of drama to their
parts that make the two thirds quarters of the film so tense and frightening.
'The Amityville Horror' does everything right for the first
two thirds of the movie. It is when the film enters its final act that you
end up feeling let down, frustrated and even amused. The limitations of
the special effects really let the actors and the story down, leading to
all the tension and fear dissipating completely.
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital
5.1 surround sound, this digitally remastered transfer is very good. Bearing
in mind that this film was made on a small budget and produced in 1979,
MGM have done a great job. The picture quality is sharp throughout and the
sound is also extremely clear.
Dr Hans Holzer's introduction to the audio commentary (1.18
Renowned parapsychologist Dr Hans Holzer explains his approach to the commentary
and how he intends to explain the difference between Hollywood facts and
Commentary by Dr Hans Holzer
This is a very different kind of commentary track, as it doesn't deal with
the production of the movie in the slightest. The track concentrates on
the on the story and the facts behind it, making this a really good listen.
Whatever your thoughts on the paranormal, Dr Hans Holzer's views come from
a scientific stand point and he talks intelligently throughout. He discusses
the Defeo murders, the Lutz family and the history of the house and its
location. He also explains that this was not a haunting with ghosts but
the existence of an angry presence. The doctor also explains what was true
and what was made up by Hollywood. This is a good commentary track that
makes a change from the usual tracks dealing with the films.
For God's Sake, Get Out! (20.41 mins)
Stars Margot Kidder and James Brolin reflect on 'The Amityville Horror'.
The pair talks about how they came involved in the movie and their careers
before and after the movie. They also talk about their characters and the
day they visited the actual house on Ocean Avenue in Amityville. Their acting
style and approach to the movie is also discussed and they also reflect
on the success of the film and what it was like working with director Stuart
History's Mysteries: Amityville: The Haunting (42.01 mins)
The History Channel investigates the events that took place in Amityville.
The documentary reveals the history of the Ocean Avenue location, revealing
that the house was built on an ancient Native American burial ground and
that the area is cursed by the Montaukett tribe. The Defeo murders are also
covers, revealing Ronald Defeo Jr's state of mind and allegations about
his terrible act. The key feature of the documentary is the first interview
for twenty years of George and Kathy Lutz. The couple speak frankly about
their experiences and how it has affected their entire lives.
History's Mysteries: Amityville - Horror or Hoax (42.30
The History Channel debates whether this was the first true recording of
an actual haunting or one of the biggest paranormal hoax's in history. Paranormal
researchers, conspiracy theorists and George and Kathy Lutz themselves debate
the facts of the events. We find out the how the book and movie came together,
the history of the house before and after the events and arguments from
both sides that will give you enough scope to make your own opinion.
Sneak Preview: The Remake of 'The Amityville Horror' (5.27
Director Andrew Douglas, producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller and stars
Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George take you behind the scenes of the remake.
Listen to the radio spots from 1979 entitled 'The First Night', 'The Fifth
Night', 'The Tenth Night', 'The Fifteen Night', ' The Last Night', 'You'll
never forget' and 'Running for their Lives', used to promote the movie
Theatrical Trailer (2.25 mins)
Watch the original promotional trailer from 1979.
Even though the movie is a bit of a let down, MGM has done
a good job with the DVD presentation. The picture and sound quality are
superb, especially when you take into account that the movie was made in
1979. The documentaries and commentary track are also very good as they
reveal a lot of information about that actual events and not just the film
itself. Fans should be very pleased with this 2-disc set.
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