Customer Reviews: The Amityville Horror (1979 film)
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on September 27, 2000
Finally !. I've been waiting an eternity to see this very underrated ghostly gem in widescreen, and now at long last it's here. MGM may not exactly be known for superb DVD transfers, but this disc actually looks pretty good. (I had to have it no matter what though.) Brolin and Kidder make a great couple, and their acting is spot-on. They may experience some quite incredible things in their new home, but their performances stay believable throughout. -And guess what, I don't think Steiger is hammy at all !. It's too bad Hollyweird doesn't make that many haunted house movies anymore, because if you know what you're doing, they can be (relatively) easy to make. -Just keep it simple, and stay the heck away from CGI if you can. I saw "The Amityville Horror" in a theater when it first came out back in '79, and it scared me like few other films had before it. (-It also helped sitting in the balcony, getting all the action on the big screen smack right in the face.) The friend I was with thought it was a silly movie, but I think he was just too spooked to admit it affected him. Seen with modern eyes I'm sure this movie now looks oldfashioned, but don't call it dated. -That word ("dated") is so easy to throw around these days, and what people really mean is "bad". But what's bad/dated about it ?. If it's scary (which I think it is), it must be good and so it has served its purpose to me as a piece of entertainment. Most modern horror movies tend to leave me rather cold, but then again, I don't see them with the eyes of 15-year old f/x nuts; I only think they're missing out in the spooky atmosphere department. -"T.A.H." has plenty of that, and it's about time it got dug out of the turkeys bin, and received the recognition it so rightfully deserves. I can think of only one other haunted house movie since then with a similar kind of power; the 1991 TV movie "The Haunted", starring Sally Kirkland and jeffrey DeMunn.
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on August 25, 2010
The first time I saw this movie, 'after reading the book, and under the impression it was based on a true story,' it scared the heck out of me. Not quite as scary as The Exorcist, but just the thought of going through what the Lutz's did, was enough to give me nightmares.

Being raised by a very superstitious family, growing up with ghost and demon tales, made it all the more scarier.

After reading feedback, especially the 1 & 2 stars, many people were put off by Amity's sound effects. IMO, the sound effects weren't over-done, nor placed in every scene like some claimed. Besides, what's spookier than sleeping in a big, old house, not long after murders were committed, on a dark, windy night, with roaring thunder and striking lightning?

Considering the year Amityville Horror was released, I think it was well-done. Not my favorite, which is the reason I gave it 4 stars, but definately one of the top 20. It's much better than the remake, which I didn't like. In fact, we watched the remake on DVD, as soon as it hit the video stores, and I can't remember one part..Reason: One word.. BORING.

Whether or not AH is deemed a classic makes no difference. It's a very good, scary movie, and anyone who enjoys horror should buy the DVD. I did.
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I love Margot Kidder and James Brolin. They each had some great horror moments in the 70s! Kidder was in SISTERS and BLACK CHRISTMAS, while Brolin showed up in WESTWORLD and THE CAR. Then, the two joined forces to play George and Kathy Lutz in THE AMITYVILLE HORROR! Now, don't get me wrong, it's not the best movie in the world, nor is it very frightening. I just like seeing the Kidder / Brolin match-up! As the Lutz's, they get to act scared and crazy (Margot is slowly terrified and James goes bananas!). The house they buy is haunted / possessed by evil spirits that cause mayhem and whatnot. You see, the former occupants were all murdered in their sleep! The Lutz's start experiencing weird stuff almost immediately, including swarms of nasty house-flies and Jody, their daughter's new invisible friend. Rod Steiger is Father Delaney, the loudest priest in the universe, yelling and screaming his way through the film. When he finally shuts up, your ears will be ringing. Don Stroud is Father What's-his-name, Delaney's apprentice of sorts. Stroud usually plays tough-guys, so I kept waiting for him to clock someone! Anyway, the subplot between Steiger and Stroud is the main problem w/ this movie. It could have easily been left out and made TAH a better and (blessedly) shorter story! I know it's based on a "true" story, but come on now! I also love the psychic lady who simply must go to the house's basement. She's hilarious! Between her Constipated facial expressions and Steiger's howling, I found myself laughing out loud! Watch this one for the Margot Kidder / James Brolin factor. Ms. Kidder even bares a little skin for heaven's sake! If you like 70s-style cheese-fests, then this is just what the witchdoctor ordered! Enjoy...
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on October 26, 2004
The seventies were crazy times to be an American. We had just bailed ignominiously out of Vietnam, been chewed up by inflation, suffered throught the resignation of a President, brazened out the gas shortage, mobilized the Civil Defense and fought off plagues of flesh-hungry zombies stalking the Pennsylvania countryside, coped with reports of cannibalistic crazies terrorizing the badlands of Southwest Texas, slicing up tourists and wearing their faces like Halloween masks. And things were just getting started: as the decade waned, Americans had to deal with houses spewing blood and black tarlike goop, with red-eyed spectral pigs bothering good taxpaying New York homeowners, and worse---with Roman Catholic priests running around the dioceses, begging to perform exorcisms!

Yeah, you guessed it: I've just awakened to chunky nuggets of ghoulish delight that lair deep down in the storm cellar of "Amityville Horror", which is an often reviled, albeit woefully flawed, fun little classic of horror and grue. I like the kitchen and the double bath---let's MOVE IN!

Full Disclosure: Had I not been subject to American Movie Classics Amityville Triple Feature---including the impossibly sick and twisted Part II (Possession) and the amusing but derivative Part III (in glorious 3-D!)---I would never have appreciate this little bauble of depravity for what it is. I first caught it on VHS a decade ago; already unimpressed with the cheesy cross-cut edits in the intro massacre, I decided to part ways with the 'Horror the moment James Brolin's bushy Chewbacca face popped into the picture---I was thoroughly grossed out by an excessive, whopping overdose of sheer seventies cheese, and flipped the tape off. What a mistake my young self made! With that, Moral #1 of The Amityville Horror:

MORAL #1: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF JAMES BROLIN. Yah he's a hairy Wookie, but the guy really grows on you, especially as he starts upping the quality time with an Axe. Brolin plays unlucky homeowner George Lutz, who spots a great deal in a charming Long Island colonial mansion and moves in with wife Kathy (Margot Kidder, fresh off mega-stardom in "Superman") and his lovely little family, not knowing that another charming little family was blown to atoms just a couple of years before in this very house, not realizing that gaping Hell awaits, and not even noticing that the House looks like a big hungry monster with those nasty windows leering at passerby like forlorn eyes!Wake up, you Walkin' Carpet!

That said, Brolin really gets into this flick and admittedly the big guy grows on you, flexing those mighty thews, chopping wood like a Greek god, and crackling with hostile energy (he even unnerved me when he and a nervous employee had a little face-to-face and Brolin wouldn't part ways with that wood-chopper)with latent hostility. Brolin owns "Amityville Horror".

MORAL #2: IF PRIESTS AND NUNS RUN SCREAMING FROM YOUR HOUSE, IT'S TIME TO MOVE. Nuns and priests don't think the Lutzes got a steal. Rod Steiger (Father Delaney)is really just unforgivably awful in this film, presaging his complete meltdown as an actor in the excremental "Mars Attacks!." His only real task in this role is to cover his face with his hands and look critically constipated. He succeeds wildly. Also, the scene in which he's grilled by Hal Holbrook-lookalike Murray Hamilton (also the Mayor from "Jaws") goes on forever. Hit fast forward---the Mercy of Christ compels thee!

MORAL #3: IS IT JUST ME, OR IS THE STUFF MARGOT KIDDER IS WEARING JUST A LITTLE TOO PRE-TEEN TO PASS MUSTER IN POLITE SOCIETY? C'mon, folks---pig-tails and fake school uniforms? Anyway, Kidder handles her role of screaming and bugging out her eyes just fine for me. Though I do have some ethical questions about the nature of Mr. Lutz's attraction for Mrs. Lutz---all those kiddie dresses, for pity's sake, man!!!---, but those are outside the scope of this review.

MORAL #4: WHEN YOUR HUSBAND NAMES THE HOUSEHOLD AXE, IT'S TIME TO GET COUNSELING. Look, director Stuart Rosenberg was an old hand at helming a movie: he was 52 years old when he directed the flick and had been in the business for 25 years. He directed "Cool Hand Luke", for God's sake! And for all that experience, he turns out a pretty ugly film, let's be honest. It's all very seventies: the point and shoot camera-work, the incessant shots of the House's admittedly freakish windows, ugly overexposure and miserable lighting, sets that look like ugly sets, and tons of pancake make-up.

And yet, for all of that---"Amityville Horror" has a delicious little horror vibe all its own that raised my hackles. The dark circles around Brolin's eyes, his apelike surliness, my absolute certainty that if his hapless employee asked him just ONE MORE QUESTION he was going to bury that chopper up to the hilt in the guy's forehead, the spooky red-lit House, the huge demonic pig hulking in one of the eye-shaped windows (that one is going to give me nightmares), Brolin getting chummy with the axe, and the total breakdown of an otherwise all-American family---for some reason, it just clicked. It worked me like a professional, and after the first 60 minutes of sitting spellbound watching it on TV (even with horrible commercial breaks) I broke down, gave in to the power of The Brolin, and ran out and bought the DVD. It's worth every penny.

MORAL #4: MAYBE THAT 'IMAGINARY FRIEND JODIE' YOUR KID HAS BEEN PLAYING WITH ISN'T IMAGINARY AT ALL. "Amityville Horror" the First has all the earmarks of a trashy seventies creepfest, but in the end I believed! Nasty, vicious, dark, atmospheric, boasting Brolin and the Axe, and featuring a creepy red-eyed demon pig, "Amityville" signed my Halloween dance card and made me giggle in fear. Everything I know about Real Estate I learned from "Amityville Horror"---if it sounds too good to be true, it's probably demon possessed.
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on January 26, 2014
[Rounded up from 3-1/2 stars] This original (1979) version of "The Amityville Horror" with James Brolin (father of Josh Brolin, "No Country for Old Men") as George Lutz and Margot Kidder (the original "Superman" movies) as Kathy Lutz easily bests 2005's remake (even if the remake had Ryan Reynolds), but it's actually the performance of Oscar-winner Rod Steiger (1976, "In the Heat of the Night"), as the preacher, that's the movie's best. Yes, there's been controversy about the authenticity of this supposedly true story versus a fictionalized embellishment for making a Hollywood profit (and if it was embellished, well, hey, it worked because it was a hit). But it's enough to send shivers down your spine knowing there's an undeniably true account and documentation of the real-life murders, regardless of the Lutz family's on-screen version of their experiences living in the same house where those murders took place. In other words, the final theatrical product, whatever it took to get there, is undoubtedly effective and downright creepy, especially James Brolin's (George) disturbing and gradually paced mental and physical transformation into a pale, bloodshot-eyed doppelganger of one particular person (eek!), which I won't give away. The special effects also hold up surprisingly well, even today, except for one particularly bad special effect near the end when George is about to enter the house and looks up to the second-floor window. If it did, indeed, however, borrow or steal from the superior "Exorcist" for monetary gain, like some say, versus the supposedly true Lutz's account, that would be, well, normal. That's what a lot of movie-makers do in Hollywood, because, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (well, at least that's the nicest way to say it, instead of saying you're a thief). Going back and seeing "The Amityville Horror" now, I can even see where "Poltergeist" (made 3 years later) borrowed some of its closing scenes from "Amityville," including a similar family dog. One could even say that "The Shining" borrowed from "Amityville" regarding the husband's change in personality, so to speak, and how the husband breaks into the bathroom. See what I mean? Judge for yourself. It's also about 20 minutes too long (the brother's wedding was unnecessary and should have been edited out, along with a couple of other scenes), but that's all redeemed somewhat by its surprisingly high fear factor and above-average number of thunder claps, which are definitely integral to the plot!
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on May 3, 2005
This is a very 70s horror flick based on the bestselling book of the 'true' story of a haunted Long Island home. It was debunked and proven to be a total sham, but the film spawned about ten sequels and even that necessary remake.

The Lutz family purchases their dream house only to find that it's haunted, and also helpfully contains the passageway to Hell in the basement. Yes, it is completely and utterly crushing to think that if such a passage existed into something called Hell, it would be in Amityville, Long Island.

James Brolin plays the husband, tough guy with a lot of hair. Margot Kidder is the wife, who gets to react with big, wide eyes whenever she witnesses a ghost, hallucination, atrocity, etc. Most of the scares are indeed opening doors or something, looking at something, and then the music gets really loud, and then we see the peoples' eyes, closer, and then, da-da! A cheesy special effect.

Good for nostalgia value. The appearance of Rod Steiger as a crazed priest is a major plus. Like a cheap Exorcist. If these types of films scare you, it might be worth it on a slow night. Good for some unintentional laughs, too.
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on August 31, 2015
wildly inaccurate compared to the book and book even has a few "additions" to it too ......the script writer even admitted he didnt pay much attention to the book and just wrote what he thought would sell........its very heavily influenced by the Exorcist which was a big hit just a few years early......if someone would just make one that is actually based on the real events it would be even scarier..... oh and btw the house was actually BLACK at the time of both events it was only painted white after the lutz's left!
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on June 18, 2015
This is the DVD version of the original Amityville horror. The movie is said to be based on a true story about a haunted house and a family that moves into the house, and soon as they move into the house , all kinds of odd hauntings and things start to happen. I love how the house looks like it has "eyes" in the attic windows and how the lighting is done on the house. I wouldn't call this scary by any means, but it is a classic movie and a nice start to the 9+ movies in the series.
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on January 17, 2015
When you have a creepy story it's always good to have a creepy cast. Let's look at some other "true story" movies with a creepy cast. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "The Blair Witch Project" for instance. Both are "true" stories with creepy casts and both of those movies really work. In "real life true stories" it is also good to have a creepy cast of characters. Let's look at Sandy Hook. Gene Rosen (very strange), Wayne Carver (the medical examiner - nice press conference??), Robbie Parker (big belly laugh seconds before a press conference the day after his daughter was shot to death and promotes a facebook donation page? Can't get more creepy than that!), Scarlett Lewis (her murdered genuis 6 year old child scrawled on a chalk board "Nurturing, Healing, Love" the day before he took a bullet to save his classmates?), the Hubbards (Question: "Your 6 year old girl getting shot to death 11 days before Christmas must have made Christmas dificult for you - didn't it?" Answer: "Well, yes and no." Really?), the McDonnels (one of the weirdest televison interviews I've ever seen - you'd have to see for yourself) the Pozners (little Noah was killed in 2012 and in a Pakistan school shooting in 2014 as well. Noah was 6 years old in 2012. How old is Mrs. Pozner? 52?) and a long list of happy, smiling parents of murdered children who say the most absurd things to the press just days after the "event." Even Adam Lanza himself is really strange (bug-eyed, photoshoped looking pictures, nobody had seen him for 3 years before the "event", weighed 112 pounds and carried 50 pounds of ammunition and guns while wearing a heavy bullet proof vest through a hole he made with a gun through bullet-proof glass and shot 26 people to death in less than 7 minutes? WOW - this guy should have been in the military!). Now that's gonna be a really weird "true story" movie someday. Whoops, I went off topic.

The Amityville Horror works for me mostly because of how weird James Brolin and Margot Kidder are. Margot's top lip sometimes looks like she just had a shot of novacaine. Her weird outfits, her sometimes inappropriate times for screaming and the weird shape her forehead skin makes when she screams definitely adds to the weirdness of the movie. James Brolin's red eyes, low speaking voice and his obession with the axe and the firewood are all very creepy as well. Rod Steiger (the priest) gives another over-the-top performance which is what I love about him. The Nun is really, really weird too. Hell, the soundtrack is weird too (by Lalo Schifrin - is this the soundtrack Wiilliam Friedkin threw out the window for "The Exorcist?"). The babysitter, the realtor, the brother, the hippie preist, the kids, even the dog, they just all seem strange.

I love weird "true" stories. I don't believe them but I still love them. This story is a load of horse s*** but The Amityville Horror is a great, fun, weird, "true" movie. The other movies and the "event" I mentioned are good for really weird entertainment as well. Life is strange. Enjoy!
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on October 18, 2000
Oh, sure ! We can all laugh at it now that most of us are adults. However, remember when you were a kid or teenager and tried to watch this when first released back in the 70's(watching it all alone in the dark no less)...Anyone who didn't feel a chill when seeing Jodi's red eyes glare and blink from outside the bedroom window has no pulse. None of the shock factors or scare tactics in this film ever reached to the proportional heights that The Excorcist did.In today's society in general and by today's movie standards, the devil just doesn't scare anymore...
Again, it was the 70's.Margot Kidder looked hot and I have no idea where James Brolin was going with the hair (his character role ?).Despite years later finding out that the entire story may have been a hoax still leaves something to the imagination if indeed there was supernatural demonic forces at play somewhere within the real home itself.
Now, 20-some years later,with dvd technology, the viewer is able to pause a lot of scenes and marvel or scoff at what was used for the special f/x sequences. Example: Pause the scene and zoom in on "Jodi's eyes";nothing more than two cheap blinking red Christmas lights. Also, the scene where George Lutz (Brolin) looks up at the house in the end and sees Jodi's eyes staring at him is another "zoom in marvel";It looks like a blow-up-close up of an actual rat,cat, or dog (could be a viscious gerbel).
Actor Rod Steiger's priestly performance is very memorable.It could be considered a little bit over-the-top at times but still credible.Actress Helen Shaver from the current supernatural-thriller series Poltergeist:The Legacy makes a guest appearance as the friend who experiences "bad vibes" from the house.
For a cheap and inexpensive Halloween treat this year rent Amityville Horror (the only one worth watching out of the entire sequels or prequels) !
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