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In December 1975, George and Kathy Lutz along with their three children move into an elegant Long Island house. What they don't know is that the house was the site of a horrific mass murder a year before. They decide to keep the house and attempt to keep the horror in the past, but are now haunted by a murderous presence. This is until, George starts to behave weirdly and their daughter, Chelsea starts to see people. What follows is 28 days of sheer, unbridled terror for the family with demonic visions of the dead. Based on the true story of George and Kathy Lutz, The Amityville Horror remains one of the most horrifying haunted house stories ever told - because it actually happened.Written by
While the reproduction of the Amityville House's famous exterior was constructed in Silver Lake, Wisconsin, many of the interiors were built on a temporary sound stage in an empty building located in a corporate park in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. The production company took out building permits in the village of Silver Lake, Wisconsin (in Kenosha County) and spent about $60,000 to adapt the historic Rustman House summer estate on the south shore of Silver Lake at Kenosha County Highways F and SA for its cinematic debut. (The Rustman fortune was earned in the Jefferson Ice company of Chicago in the harvesting and storage of ice from the wintertime lakes of Kenosha County and elsewhere, and shipping it to hotels for summertime usage and cooling before the advent of refrigeration.) The Rustman Estate consists of the "big" house. a smaller guest cottage, several farm buildings, two workers' cottages, a boathouse, a one-lane bowling alley, and wide pastures, garden plots and wooded areas. The porch on the house itself faces west and winds three-quarters of the way around the first floor. Inside there is a smallish kitchen but a dining room that seats 18-20 guests, a large living room, billiard room, butler's pantry, billiard room, and separate two-room maid's quarters. On the grand staircase was a stained-glass window (now removed) featuring an Eve-like maiden offering the viewer an apple. Upstairs, a vast master suite has been created from some of the original five upstairs bedrooms, each with its own marble sink. The third floor is the attic with a turret room high above Silver Lake where Mrs. Rustman would sit and watch the ice-cutters. The Rustman House awaits its next occupants as it has been unoccupied for several years and remains protected by a chain-link fence and hidden security devices. See more »
(at around 1h 16 mins) When Kathy and the kids are getting down from the roof after being chased by George, we can see Billy, Chelsea and Kathy get to the stairs in that order, leaving only Michael still on the roof. In the next shot Kathy ask Chelsea to jump because she's on the roof again with Michael. See more »
Catch them! Kill them!
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In terms of cinematic legacy, the original "The Amityville Horror" managed to foreshadow both "The Shining" and "Poltergeist" while swiping a few nods from "The Exorcist." But time has not been kind to the hit 1979 horror film, once considered spooky but now considered at best a camp classic.
The remake opens in the late 1970s, with George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) and his new wife Kathy (Melissa George) getting what appears to be the deal of a lifetime. A colonial era Long Island home that is within their price range has just come up for sale, and the two decide the place would be perfect to raise their children, all from Kathy's previous marriage.
Little do they know that the house comes with loads of supernatural baggage. The previous owner had killed his entire family within 28 days of moving in, claiming there was a demonic presence in the home that drove him to do so. It's not long before strange things start to happen with the new family as well.
Chelsea (Chloë Grace Moretz) starts seeing the ghost of the previous little girl who occupied the house, Billy (Jesse James) and Michael (Jimmy Bennett) see supernatural activity while also being blamed for the trouble it causes, and George begins to go mad, taking increasingly drastic steps to maintain order and discipline the children. It's not long before Kathy begins to suspect that all is not right in their quaint little home.
"The Amityville Horror" is such a mediocre film, you can't help but wonder what was once considered so shocking about the original story. In truth, with all the negative reviews the original movie received, it's obvious that that film (and its numerous sequels) is merely famous for being famous. The thing that most people seem to remember is the front of the house itself, which actually is scary looking. It's just a shame there's never been a horror movie filmed in the house to do its spooky appearance justice.
The other thing to note is that the remake still claims to be based on a true story, which is partially true. The real life Lutz's account was eventually proved to be a hoax to cover up the fact that the family couldn't pay their mortgage, but not before the family made millions on everything from talk show appearances to the movie rights.
The movie never really lets you into the horror that is occurring, and director Andrew Douglas does a very workman-like job directing the story, never really doing anything to interest us in the characters or situation. Special effects run amok, like walls that ooze blood and jack-in-the-box scares like decomposing ghosts jumping out at you, but it's all for naught. The movie can only scream "boo!" at you so many times before you start booing back.
Acting-wise, the movie is decent but not terribly inspired. Just like Jack Nicholson in "The Shining," Reynolds seems to lose his sanity just a tad too early for the rest of the story to be believable. As Kathy, George manages to be the emotional anchor holding the film together and does a good job, however her character puts up with far too much stress before she finally acts. The child actors all do okay, but they merely exist to be put in danger.
So, what was the purpose of remaking a horror movie that hasn't aged very well over the last quarter of a century? The main reason I can think of is the house itself, which still manages to scare people. Other than that, there's a big market for remaking classic horror films right now, though hardly any of been able to justify their own existence, including last year's "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," also produced and written by the same team behind this film. "The Amityville Horror" is likely to join that undistinguished canon, ultimately being a horror movie about a group of people too dumb to leave a house just because the script requires them to stay. It's movies like this that make you want to root for the ghosts.
5 out of 10 stars. It's hard to feel sympathetic for characters in a movie who have to stay in a stupid situation just because the script says so.
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