Starring: James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
The Lutz family have found their dream home – 112 Ocean Drive, Amityville. It’s huge and although about a third cheaper than it’s true value, is still going to be hard to afford. But George (Brolin) is determined to give his wife Kathy (Kidder) and her children the home that they all want. They know about the murder there a year earlier – a teenage boy killed his whole family, claiming that voices in the house told him to do it – but as George says ‘houses don’t have memories’.
But from the moment Father Delaney (Steiger) is ordered out of the house by a gruesome, angry voice, things start to go wrong for the Lutzs. George wakes up at 3.15am most nights, he’s always cold no matter how much wood he chops and burns, both himself and Kathy are having nightmares, the kids are acting up and there are numerous accidents and strange events. How is it possible that a swarm of flies can congregate in a second floor room in the dead of winter?
While the 2005 remake relies on style and visuals to spook you out, the 1979 version aims to leave a lot of the horror unseen and, subsequently, created in your own mind. A hovering camera behind a table that slowly moves towards a prone character works very well – simple but effective.
The main music track is great – a freakily enchanting chorus of young girls that sounds like a group of brainwashed, wide-eyed children paying homage to their cult leader. It’s the simple things like this that make a movie subtly disconcerting. There are elements of “The Amityville Horror” which scream ‘dated’ and might put new viewers off but a test viewing of both films by my girflriend recently, saw her plump for the original ahead of the recent remake.
Performances elevate the movie above average. Outside of a few freaky lines and looks from Amy (Ryan), the children have nothing to do. But Rod Steiger is convincing as the persecuted priest and the Lutzs’ are played admirably by Brolin and Kidder.