I can’t believe I bought the “Amityville Horror” Blu-ray collection, but I did, and it’s awesome! It had been sitting on a shelf at Walmart for over a month for $30 plus tax, and I wasn’t sure whether to get it or not. I had always enjoyed the films as a teen, but would they hold up and would they be amazing in HD? The answers are yes and HELL, YEAH! The first film, a big blockbuster from 1979, starred James Brolin and Margot Kidder as the a couple with kids who move into a striking real-life house with a troubling history. A young man named Ronald DeFeo Jr. had gone crazy and murdered his parents, his and his two brothers and sisters. Most people would balk at living in a “murder house,” but George and Kathy Lutz (a real-life couple who successfully concocted the Amityville hoax) are fine with it, to a point. The green slime in the toilet and the daughter’s imaginary friend Jody don’t seem to phase them too much, but seeing ghost pigs and George’s near transformation into a psychopath have more of an effect. A priest (played by Rod Steiger) is scarred for life when he tries to bless the house; beware the flies! Ultimately, the Lutzes flee and the movie ends. In real life, they went on a national tour talking about their (supposedly true) experiences, and ultimately their story became a very scary best selling novel by Jay Anson.
Lilo Schiflin composed the score for the first two films. It was rumored to be the rejected score for the Exorcist, though that has never been confirmed. It is a quite haunting score, which a creepy kids choir. It was nominated for an Oscar. Reminiscing about the film on the behind the scenes, Brolin and Kidder, revealed they did not feel the film was rooted in any super natural reality. Yet Brolin was freaked out by the book. They felt it was an awesome follow up for her, in terms of contrast and variety, following her profile role in the original Superman. Dianne Franklin, as the teen girl, was also in Better Off Dead (with John Cusak), as the French Exchange student. Her performance was very good, considering this was conceived as an exploitation film. This movie did rise above in terms of production. Writing wise, the writer later on directed Halloween 3, Fright Night 2, and IT.
Amityville 3 was a very popular 3-D film in theatres back in 1983. It had a young Meg Ryan in a supporting role. There was a great priest killed by bees scene. It was known for not having much to do with the first two films, and for being slightly comedic by comparison. It is not nearly as good or memorable as the first two films, yet it manages to be nearly as entertaining.
Shout Factory has produced such a great copy of this film in this 3 film Blu Ray set, that it forces you to re-evaluate the quality of these films, especially the first two. The colors are crisp, and it brings you back to that era and lets you see the grain of the film. The sound is mastered excellently as well. Each film comes with a lot of behind the scenes extras.
The director of the second film states that he was drawn to the material since it was based on a true story, unlike the first and third installments. The scenes that intimated inbreeding between the brother and sister got cut out, along with the depiction of the father raping the mother. It was his first film in America, his other films having been Italian. This was his only horror film attempt, so he wanted to make it count. The director lamented a horribly cheesy line which got left in the final cut, where a character yells,” Worms!” as he dies. By the way, as a piece of trivia, did you know in real life the killer depicted in the series is actually still alive, serving out life in prison. His insanity plea failed, and he got 6 consecutive life sentences. He was convicted of several second degree murders.
Don’t waste your money on The Conjuring or other pale imitations. Stick with the old school. Stick with the originals. Go get this box set. It will probably go out of print and be worth $ eventually too.