The Amityville Horror (R)
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This came out in 1979, when I was just like three years old. So of course I didn't see it until much later. It's something I guess I vaguely wanted to see for quite awhile, before I finally got around to watching it in 2019. And I'm afraid I was rather disappointed by it. It's based on a book I haven't read, which was ostensibly based on true events, though how much truth there was in the book itself is questionable, and certainly the movie is even more fictionalized than the book. Anyway, over the decades, there have been numerous other films based on the book or on this film, including sequels, prequels, remakes, whatever. While this film is, in retrospect, considered something of a classic of the horror genre, I don't think the same can be said for any of the other films, and I have no plans to ever watch any of them.
It begins with a man killing his entire family with a shotgun, one stormy night in 1974. One year later, a newly married couple, George and Kathy Lutz (James Brolin and Margot Kidder) move into the house where the murders happened, with Kathy's children from a previous marriage. They include a daughter, Amy, and two sons, Greg and Matt. (The latter was played by Meeno Peluce, who was familiar to me from the 1982 series Voyagers!) However, the only one of the kids who's of any real importance to the story is Amy, who occasionally mentions her new friend "Jody," who I guess Kathy assumed was an imaginary friend, though I'm sure viewers assumed all along was actually a supernatural entity that Amy, for no apparent reason, was the only one that could see or hear. But even Amy and Jody are relatively minor parts of the plot. Lots of strange things happen in the house, and as the days go by, George seems to become increasingly disturbed (I couldn't help but think of Jack Torrance from The Shining). There's also a priest named Father Delaney (Rod Steiger), who came to bless the house, before any of the freaky stuff even started happening. I guess he was there at Kathy's request, because he's an old friend of hers, or something. But the family was out back when he showed up, so they never even knew he was there. And he got swarmed by flies and a generally evil presence in the house, and left in a hurry. Another time, Kathy's aunt Helena, a nun, came to the house, and she also had to immediately flee, despite Kathy's protests for her to stay. So, it's pretty clear the house doesn't like the clergy. Subsequently, Father Delaney tries to warn the Lutzes, but always fails to reach them, either in person or by phone. And his superiors in the diocese don't believe him about anything supernatural going on.
Anyway, things get increasingly bad for the Lutzes, in various ways, until finally they're forced to abandon the house completely, the end.
I dunno what else to say. I mean I don't want to spoil any specifics, but I also feel like plenty of things were never very clearly explained. Or rather, the explanations seem a bit muddled. You might expect it would be the ghosts of the murdered family who were responsible for everything that happened, but there's more to it than that, going back long before the original murders. Anyway, I mostly found the movie kind of boring, though I suppose some things were kind of scary. Oh, and the main title music is nicely eerie, and somewhat iconic, in the horror genre.