The Amityville Horror (1979)
Newlyweds move into a large house where a mass murder was committed, and experience strange manifestations which drive them away.
Based on a true story that was claimed by writer Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror is about a large house on the coast of Long Island where newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz and their three children move into the house that they hope will be their dream house which ends up in terror. Despite full disclosure by the real estate agent of the house's history, George and Kathy buy the house. George says, "Houses don't have memories," but they turn to their family priest Father Delaney who believes the house is haunted and performs an exorcism on the house. But satanic forces in the house causes him to become blind and makes him very sick. With the help of another priest Father Bolen and a police detective, George and Kathy face the fears of the house, but not knowing the forces are planning to possess George and then the children.
In total disregard of the shocking rumours about the grisly DeFeo murders, the young married couple, George and Kathy Lutz, along with their three kids move into the seemingly ideal, and above all, surprisingly affordable colonial house in Amityville, New York. However, before long, inexplicable occurrences and disturbing incidents start to blemish the Lutzes' noble desire for a peaceful new life, as the house's evil gradually erodes the personalities of the once-happy family, transforming the idyllic home into a nightmarish portal to hell. Now, as a mysteriously sullen George obsessively sharpens his axe, the local priest, Father Delaney, begins to realise that, indeed, satanic forces are at work. Can they escape from the diabolical Amityville horror?
- "The Amityville Horror" (Released July 1979) is based on the true story of George Lee Lutz (James Brolin, of "Marcus Welby, MD") and Kathy Lutz (Margot Kidder, fresh from the success of "Superman") who bought a charming Dutch Colonial home in Amityville, on the coast of Long Island NY, in 1975. A sign in front of the house gives its name as "High Hopes."
The film is based on the book of the same title, by Jay Anson, published in 1977. (Anson did not work extensively with the couple, but worked from hours of taped conversations between George and Kathy, which they had turned over to him.)
The home features the Dutch gambrel (barn-shaped) roof design, and a pair of quarter-circle windows, on the end, on the 3rd floor, up near the roof. These are illuminated to look like the home's eyes. Filmmakers modified a house in New Jersey to look like the actual home in Amityville, and it is surprisingly close.
It is a documented fact that a troubled young man, 28, had shot his entire family to death in the house, on 11/13/1974, including father, mother, two brothers and two sisters. Thus, in the film, the history of the house allows the Lutz's, in the fall of 1975, to make an offer of $80,000 on the home, which, we are told, is easily worth $120,000.
Despite full disclosure of the home's past, by the realtor, the couple proceeds with the purchase, and moves in. George appears not to be strong of faith, but Kathy is at least a nominal Catholic. The couple turns to Father Delaney to bless the home. Father Delaney (Rod Steiger) encounters troubles in trying to bless the home, including a room full of flies, out of season, violent stomach sickness, and later, blisters on his palm when trying to make even a phone contact with Kathy at the home.
In his further efforts to confront the evil, he suffers a car wreck from brake and steering malfunction, a lack of support by his superiors in the diocese as he describes the occult things he's seen, and ultimately, blindness and a mental breakdown.
It is most moving when he, at the altar of the church, is praying, "Give them strength of mind and body, that they may do Your will," and a high-mounted statue begins to crumble and drop dust down in the chancel area. Refusing to run, he continues the prayer at a scream, "Oh, Lord, give them strength of mind and body, that they may do Your will!" weeping at the seeming triumph of evil over good. After this, we are shown Father Delaney, sitting in an outdoor garden area, in a totally unresponsive state. Presubably, his mind is gone.
George begins to be more sullen and angry over perceived cold in the house, and obsesses with splitting logs and keeping the fireplace stoked. One of the two boys suffers a crushed hand when a sash window falls on it, and the little girl has an imaginary friend, Jody, who seems to be of a malevolent nature. Mom, Kathy, catches a glimpse of two red, swine-like eyes, outside the daughter's 2nd story window. The family dog, Harry, a black labrador, obsesses over a secret room in the basement.
George's land surveying business begins to suffer with his lack of attendance, and his partner is concerned. The business partner's wife, very sensitive to the paranormal, is at once both revulsed and intrigued by the things she feels when at the house. "Boy are these vibes ever strong!" she says at one point.
The Lutz's witness a black, bubbling substance coming up in the toilets, an "ooze" coming down from nail holes in the walls, a babysitter being trapped in a closet despite its not having a locking doorknob, the disappearance of $1,500.00 cash, and Kathy's Aunt, a nun, running from the house and vomiting. Kathy observes George's persistant waking at 3:15 am, feeling he must go check on the boathouse, and other unsettling incidents. Kathy has nightmares in which she is given details about the killings of the home's prior family.
Their research at the library and at the county records office suggest that the house is built atop a tribal burial ground, and that a known devil worshiper named Ketcham had once lived on the land.
Finally, the paranormal events drive the family to flee the house one night, in the pouring rain, no longer even worried about their posessions. The final titles tell us that, "Today the Lutz's live in another state."