Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Amityville Horror

In addition to taking Anna trick-or-treating, Wendy and I watched the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror. The Amityville Horror was one of the first grown-up books I remember reading. I read it in the 3rd grade--I begged my mom to let me check it out from the library even though I knew it would probably scare me. It goes a long way toward explaining my obsession with things scary. She caved, and sure enough the first night I was too scared to sleep. My friend Kelly remembers me reading it very vividly--she says it's one of her first memories of me--me reading that book and all the flies on it.

While the story was billed as a "true story" at the time, it's pretty much common knowledge that the whole thing was a hoax, a money making scheme by George & Kathy Lutz, the owners of the house for those 28 days. As near as I can tell, the only thing that's true is that Ronald DeFeo, Jr. did kill his family in the house. Everything beyond that, pure fiction. Well, that fiction still scared the hell out of me as a kid. It was made into a movie in 1979 with James Brolin (a/k/a Mr. Barbra Streisand) and Margot Kidder. It wasn't very good, and, to be honest neither is this one, but it was still freaky and had more than a few good scares.

To say that this remake is based on a true story is akin to saying that the movie was based on my life. Even if you take the novel as gospel truth, this film takes a lot of liberties with its source material. First thing, it demonizes George Lutz much more than the house. In the novel, the house is the evil thing. And while it affects all the members of the family, at no point does George go as far over the deep end as he does in this movie. Another disappointment, NO RED ROOM!! Yeah, there's other stuff, but I was really wanting to see the red room again. And it left out all the black gunk in the toilets, the marching band in the living room, the hooded figure that tried to keep them from escaping that final night.

For all the liberties it took with the story, I was shocked to see how well-shot the movie was. It was atmospheric and very "horror-movie-ish" so that worked in it's favor. We enjoyed it enough--not enough for us to wish we had our hour and 29 minutes back, but I'm not sure I ever need to watch it again.

I'll stick to the book. In the meantime, I wonder if Jim and Babs watched the original on Halloween, or if they dug out his other horror flick--The Car.

No comments: