James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger, Don Stroud, Natasha Ryan and Murray Hamilton

Stuart Rosenberg

Running Time:
117 mins

  • The special effects really let the finale of the film down

"Get Out!!!"

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.


Disc 1

Dr Hans Holzer's introduction to the audio commentary (1.18 mins)
Renowned parapsychologist Dr Hans Holzer explains his approach to the commentary and how he intends to explain the difference between Hollywood facts and fiction.

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.

Disc 2


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 Rosenberg.

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 mins)
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 mins)
Director Andrew Douglas, producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller and stars Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George take you behind the scenes of the remake.

Radio Spots
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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