21 June 2017

SECOND SIGHT FILMS PRESENTS: THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. (1979) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. 1979. BASED ON THE BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY JAY ANSON. DIRECTED BY STUART ROSENBERG. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: SAMUEL Z. ARKOFF. STARRING JAMES BROLIN, MARGOT KIDDER, ROD STEIGER AND MURRAY HAMILTON. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'When George and Kathy Lutz and their children move to Amityville, Long Island, they believe they have found the perfect family home. But the house has a shocking history and within its walls a demonic presence lies in wait that will turn the Lutzes lives into a living nightmare. Their only hope is to get out before it's too late...'

'Prepare to be scared when you visit the original haunted house in THE AMITYVILLE HORROR...'

Okay, so George and Kathy Lutz don't exactly feel like they've found their dream house. I mean, they do know it's a murder house, right...? Sure they do. They know that their beautiful Long Island Colonial house, situated on the edge of a picturesque river and bought by them at a knockdown price, was home to some of the most gruesome murders the local community had ever seen. The film is based on true events, by the way.

Yep, only a year before, one of the previous occupants went doo-lally with a shotgun and killed his whole family. And what could possibly have possessed him to do such a thing? Maybe a little old thing like the house having been built bang-slap on top of an old Indian burial ground, perhaps? 

Perhaps, gentle readers, perhaps. Although it's shocking how many folks in films choose to build their homes on top of old Indian burial grounds, isn't it? I mean, haven't they learned anything from watching movies...? 

I'd no more build my house on top of one of those dealies than I'd say 'I'll be right back!' before disappearing alone into the haunted forest where the insane serial killer was eaten alive by raccoons a hundred years ago tonight and now he's back for revenge and this time, it's personal...

The scares come pretty quickly in this super-atmospheric chiller. Father Delaney, the local cleric and a family friend to the Lutzes, has a horrible experience with nasty black flies in one of the bedrooms when he tries to bless the house. 

Kathy's aunt, a nun, falls violently ill after entering the house and sensing the evil that lurks therein. And you can totally trust holy people, you know. They have a sixth sense for these things, like dogs and psychic mediums. Shouldn't that be psychic media...?

Speaking of holy people, by the way, I had lunch with my mum and dad today in honour of my recent birthday and the funniest thing happened. They had a full-on argument in the pub in front of everyone over the late Saint Mother Teresa and whether she was as poor as the people she helped (my mum's argument) or whether she was living it up in luxury on the sly (my dad's argument). I took neither side. Over the years, I've learned to stay well out of that kind of thing.

Anyway, a window slams down violently on the hand of one of the kids and traps it. Little Amy, the Lutzes' youngest child, has a new 'imaginary' friend called Jodie who wants Amy to stay in the house with her forever and ever and who encourages Amy to leave her babysitter trapped in the bedroom closet. Some friend, huh...?

The front door of the house is shattered to pieces when a supernatural force blows it outwards, much to the bafflement of the local constabulary. George Lutz, played by the handsome- and shaggy- James Brolin (WESTWORLD), is becoming weirder and edgier by the day. 

He's become unhealthily attached to his wood-chopping axe and he's starting to resemble the murderer more and more in his physical appearance, which freaks the bejeesus out of his wife, Kathy, when she works it out.

My favourite scenes are the ones involving Father Delaney's abortive attempts to help the Lutz family. For one thing, the house won't let him make contact with his parishioners to help them fight the evil that stalks their home. For another thing, the higher-ups in his church give him a right royal bollocking and tell him to put all this nonsense about Satan out of his mind because it's bad for business.

Murray Hamilton of JAWS fame (Mayor Larry Vaughan) is one of these higher-ups. Whether it's man-eating sharks or Old Nick and his minions, he wants 'em covered up, and covered up good. Brilliant. I love it. These scenes remind me of THE OMEN, in which a priest is once again fighting alone and frightened, but determined, to stem the tide of evil.

The discovery of the location of the old Indian burial ground in the basement of the Lutz home is pretty much the last straw for the beleaguered family. On a dark and stormy night, they- barely-escape with their lives while the walls and stairs of the house ooze blood, the window-panes come crashing inwards and a dirty great black hole opens up in the basement. You can get a guy out of the Golden Pages who'll fix a black hole for you but it'll take months of aggro and cost you a packet. You know what building contractors are like. Jesus wept.

They never return to the house, not even to retrieve their belongings. I can't say I blame them. That, people, is the House of the Devil. It's Satan's pad, Lucifer's gaff, Old Nick's hang-out. The best thing that the Lutzes can do is just to high-tail it the hell out of there. Immediately.

This is one of my favourite 'haunted house' films, even though it was somewhat panned by the critics at the time. Well, I don't know what film they were watching but I think it's well-scripted, well-acted and the scares are plentiful and genuine.

A chap who works in the store where I bought my first ever DVD copy of the film told me that he'd actually seen the outside of the house on a trip to the US. He said that the scariest thing about it was that it looked so 'normal.'

Normal...? I personally think that it looks like the doorway to HELL, but whatever. I wouldn't set foot in it for all the money in the world. I watch this film again and again, though, narky critics notwithstanding, and you definitely should too.

If you want a good intelligent scare based on true events, then this is the film for you. Watch it alone. In the dark. In the middle of a thunderstorm. You'll have great craic, as we say here in Ireland.

There's a funny story told about James Brolin's involvement in the film. In lieu of a script, the handsome actor (have you seen him in WESTWORLD as a pretend cowboy? Phwoar!) sat down one night by himself to read the book by Jay Anson on which the film is based. I've read this book myself and there are some seriously freaky-ass things in it which I never forgot.

Anyway, during a particularly spooky passage in the book, a pair of pants which the actor had hung up carefully suddenly dropped to the floor. This small but scary incident convinced Mr. Brolin that he had to take the role. Sometimes, it pays to listen to what your pants are trying to tell you...!

The supercalifragilisticexpialidocious news is that THE AMITYVILLE HORROR is coming out in a Limited Edition Steelbook Format on 26th June 2017, courtesy of SECOND SIGHT FILMS and AIM PUBLICITY. 

It's finally getting its first-ever UK Blu-Ray release, which is definitely something to shout about. But quietly, in case the demon hears you...

The film comes complete with an unreal number of special features, including the feature-length documentary MY AMITYVILLE HORROR in which Daniel Lutz, Kathy Lutz's now grown-up son, talks at length about how much he hated his step-father George.

Yes, he talks about the haunted house and his time there as well but, having seen the documentary for myself, it kind of feels like the real thing he wants to get off his chest is how bad a father he thinks George Lutz was to his step-children. You guys can, of course, watch the documentary for yourselves and make up your own minds.

Anyway, this brand-new Limited Edition Steelbook is too good a chance to pass up on, so make sure you get your copy. No collection of truly epic 'Seventies horror films would be complete without it. 'Haunted House' films are my favourite sub-genre of horror movies and, as haunted houses go, they sure as eggs is eggs don't come much more haunted than this one...

BONUS FEATURES INCLUDE:
• ‘Brolin Thunder’ – A new interview with actor James Brolin
• ‘Child's Play’ – A new interview with actor Meeno Peluce
• ‘Amityville Scribe’ – A new interview with screenwriter Sandor Stern
• ‘The Devil's Music’ – A new interview with soundtrack composer Lalo Schifrin
• ‘My Amityville Horror’ – feature-length documentary with Daniel Lutz
• ‘For God’s Sake, Get Out’ – featuring James Brolin and Margot Kidder
Intro by Dr. Hans Holzer, PhD. in parapsychology (author of ‘Murder in Amityville’)
Audio commentary by Dr. Hans Holzer
Original trailer, TV spot, radio spots
Four reproduction lobby card postcards (SteelBook Exclusive)
New optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com









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