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OCTOBER 7 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
From filmcritic.com

I'm a sucker for both haunted house movies and 'true horror' stories, but as I was a mere eight years old when the original Amityville Horror was released, it had joined the kind of horror legendry of The Exorcist, Halloween, and Friday the 13th, all from its general era.

Amityville is based on the famous book of the same name -- a story which is shrouded in mystery and passed off as true. Here's what really happened: In 1974, the DeFeo family living at 112 Ocean Avenue, in Amityville, New York, were shot and killed while sleeping in their beds. The culprit was the son, who is still in prison for murdering six members of his family. The house was eventually sold, and in 1977 the Lutz family moved in. 28 days later, they fled the house in fear for their lives.

What happened during those 28 days is the subject of both the film and intense debate. Positing the house as inhabited by demons, built on an Indian burial ground, and haunted by the spirit of Ronald DeFeo Jr. (who wasn't -- and isn't -- dead), the Amityville Horror house is one hotbed of supernatural activity. The horrors of the title include garden variety haunting stuff -- black goo in the toilets, flies in one of the rooms, are door that blows off its hinges. But some of the other antics are severe, namely the psychosis of patriarch George (James Brolin, often shirtless), a ghostly pig with glowing eyes (uh huh), and a chamber to hell that's almost casually discovered in the basement. And yet the Lutzes still don't leave! A side story involves mom Kathy (Margot Kidder) and her deep Catholicism. When the local father (Rod Steiger, overacting superbly) comes for a blessing, he ends up going insane.

Ultimately, the tale of the Lutzes has come under serious suspicion. Not only have subsequent residents had no problem with ghost pigs, one of the Lutzes allegedly confessed it was all a hoax to make money. It worked. The DeFeo murders were real, and based on those horrors and the power of suggestion, millions of books and movie tickets have been sold.

Never mind the facts, how's the horror? Well, for starters, it's kinda lame. The horror is cheesy in that 1970s way: Stuart Rosenberg's (Brubaker) direction is choppy and favors cats leaping out of the darkness. But worst of all is the gore, of which there really isn't any. Aside from the opening scene that explains the DeFeo murders, this is that rare horror film that has a body count of zero.

Reinvented in the zeroes as a 'classic,' The Amityville Horror arrives as part of a box set (the first three films are included, plus a DVD of extra documentaries). The original film gets the biggest treatment, including current-day interviews with Brolin and Kidder, commentary by a parapsychologist, and other archival materials.


OCTOBER 7 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
From feoamante.com

That Ronald DeFeo Jr. was convicted of murdering his parents and siblings on the night of November 13, 1974 is true. To this day Ronald denies it, and even fields questions from the Internet community at large through his official website at thenightexposed.net/.

But what Jay Anson (THE AMITYVILLE HORROR - 1977) and Hans Holzer (MURDER IN AMITYVILLE - 1979) tried to pass off as truth in the 1970s, remains pure hokum.

For the latest DVD of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, there is even a commentary by Hans Holzer. So how does the movie hold up after nearly 30 years?

Let's think about it's day back in 1979. It was released by American international pictures which was, at that time, every bit as big a studio as Lionsgate and with a longer history. Horror movies had been revived thanks to the stunning success of HALLOWEEN in 1978. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR seemed like a sure bet. It was based upon the book THE AMITYVILLE HORROR: A TRUE STORY, by Jay Ansen; who in turn based his "novel" partly on what was claimed to be a true story by George and Kathy Lutz. The movie and the is about them and the terror the Lutz family presumably went through while living in the house. Lutz, in turn, claimed to have been haunted by the ghost or spirits that possessed real life Ronald DeFeo, in 1974, to murder his entire family in cold blood. Of this entire story, the fact that Ronald De Feo (still alive and still imprisoned as of this writing) murdered his family, is true.

Jay Ansen's book, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR became a huge hit and stayed on the New York Times best seller list for over a year. Lutz, Ansen, and Holzer all claimed that the story was true and it was billed as a "True Ghost Story". A famous ghost story based on what was - at that time - a famous murder case. How delightfully sordid! American audiences ate it up. The world audiences soon followed. So Samuel Z. Arkoff had a movie made, featuring screenwriter Sandor Stern (PIN: A PLASTIC NIGHTMARE, AMITYVILLE HORROR 4: THE EVIL ESCAPES) and director Stuart Rosenberg (Various televised episodes of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS and the original THE TWILIGHT ZONE, THE DROWNING POOL). For the part of George Lutz, they got actor James Brolin, who was hot off of three unexpected hits: WESTWORLD, THE CAR, and CAPRICORN ONE. At that moment, Brolin was the Keanu Reeves of his day. Nobody thought he was a good actor, or even particularly smart - but he wound up in three throw away movies in a row that became hits: As mysterious then as it is now.

The lead actress was also riding a wave. Playing the part of Kathy Lutz was Margot Kidder who was in the smash hit, Superman just a year before. What's more, after nearly five years in obscurity, a flop she made back in 1974, BLACK CHRISTMAS, was busy making the cable and network circuit and television audiences were discovering the shocker. Margot was hot. A hot novel, hot actors, and a story that the world was nuts about. How could it not become a hit? And a smash hit it was.

THE AMITYVILLE HORROR starts off with the murders of the DeFeo family by their eldest son, who murdered both of his parents and his younger siblings. While Horror movie epilogues have grown tiresome and useless, in 1979 it made sense to the story to start off there and then announce, One Year Later, whereby George and Kathy are checking the house out. And for the size of the house, its location, the property and the ton of ameneities, the house was a steal. So what if people were murdered in it? "Houses don't have memories," George says.

So the family moves in and just loves it. Being a good Catholic family, they invite Father Delaney (Rod Steiger: THE KINDRED, MARS ATTACKS!, END OF DAYS) to come over and molest bless the house. Father Delaney enters the house (of his own free will!) and calls for Kathy and George, unaware that they are out back with the kids. Wandering around, calling for them, he hears children’s laughter from upstairs. He goes up and enters the room where the laughter is coming from, only to find it empty. Through the window he sees the family below in their backyard. Funny though, the laughter was so clear and yet the window is closed and locked. He attempts to bless the house without pesky company around only to have the house attack him. Looking at it today, the scene seems more than mild, it seems kind of silly. But back in 1979 this scene horrified audiences who believed It Actually Happened!

George meanwhile, is feeling grumpy. He married into a family that already existed. The children belong to Kathy and they all remember their deceased Father. While the kids have gone from calling their Mom's new husband, George, instead of Mr. Lutz, George feels that he has done his part to support his new family and come through for them - so when are they going to start calling him Dad? The role of George was supposed to have James Brolin play George as charming at first, and then slowly more demented and sinister. Problem is, from the start Brolin plays George as sullen and moody and it only gets worse from there. We never feel comfortable with George and we wait for him to crack.

Kidder's role as Kathy isn't much better. From 1975 to about 1980, Hollywood Horror movies had their female leads as ditzy dimbulbs, not noticing the obvious around them until hubby or some varmint grabbed a bat or ax and started swinging (PROPHECY, THE CAR, THE SHINING). The only strong women in Horror movies were those in independent releases like HALLOWEEN and DAWN OF THE DEAD. The woman as a ditz, appears to have been killed off by those two indies I mentioned, plus one studio big budget release of ALIEN. So Margot's Kathy sees George change and tries to put a good face on it until he finally blows up on her. While George degenerates, in turns from a maniac to a man horrified at what is happening to him, Kathy turns the other cheek and either braves it all stoically or tries to get a damn priest in there to bless the house once and for all.

Meanwhile what we get in the way of horror are things like flies and a blue pig with glowing eyes. Again, none of this seems scary today, but back when this was released, people thought it was real. "Yeah, a blue pig with glowing eyes in your bedroom may not seem like much, But What If It Really Happened?"

At the height of its popularity, before it even left the theaters, investigators revealed the THE AMITYVILLE HORROR for what it was - a hoax. The family living in it at the time had no problem with it. And no one has had any problems since. The home video market was just dawning but THE AMITYVILLE HORROR was a big budget feature and some audience members felt conned and wanted to sue. Losing money, American International merged with Filmways in 1980 and soon disappeared forever.

Many a sequel has been made about THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and, since the town is real, nobody owns the rights to making an AMITYVILLE, Horror movie. Even if the story isn't true, it was worth making into a good movie and in 2005, MGM did just that. But the original THE AMITYVILLE HORROR gets a barely earned Three ShriekGirls.


OCTOBER 7 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
From rogerebert.suntimes.com

Produced by Roland Saland and Elliott Geisinger. Screenplay by Sandor Stern, based on the book by Jay Anson. Photographed by Fred J. Konekamp.

Classified R. At local theaters.

Bad guys are great. There's nothing quite like a malevolent presence that implacably wishes evil on everyone in town. A guy with a sneer and a moustache and an upset stomach. A guy totally unlike the evil entity in "The Amityville Horror."

The horror in this movie, alas, isn't a bad guy at all. Doesn't have a shape or a face or a personality. May not even be a guy. Is a presence that causes the worst sorts of things to happen. Who upsets the dog and causes the doors to bang open and makes the house too cold all the timeÑand, in short, makes things just like Chicago.

The presence persecutes a family played by James Brolin and Margot Kidder and a bunch of kids, who have to scream and quake on a regular basis for 28 days in the book and for 21 days, if I counted correctly, in the movie. They play a couple named George and Kathy Lutz, whose experiences inspired a bestselling book named, of course, "The Amityville Horror," and who moved out of their house and left their furniture behind and moved to San Diego, fulfilling all of our dreams.

IS THE STORY based on fact? I have no way of knowing. I've met George Lutz; I had a couple of beers with him in the Los Angeles Airport, and he seemed to be a likable and a totally believable person. He told me, soberly and earnestly, of the terrible things that happened to him and his family in that haunted house on Ocean Boulevard on Long Island, out there where people move in every expectation of learning Craig Claiborne's "New York Times Cook Book" by heart.

Was he telling the truth? Did green slime really squirt from the keyholes? Did a a redeyed pig really glare through the windows? Did a ghostly marching band really parade through the living room? Maybe so; we've all made bad real estate investments. But the question isn't so much whether those terrible things really happened as whether (please forgive me for my lack of reverence) they've been made into an entertaining movie.

They have not. They've been made into a dreary and terminally depressing series of glum things that happen to the residents of the Ocean Boulevard house. Nobody who has had to live under a roof and amidst four walls and pay the rent could possibly find such things amusing.

THE STAIRS collapse? There are thousands of flies in the sewing room? There's a pig with glowing red eyes staring in through the windows? The problem with these folks is that they've moved to Long Island. There are lots of neighborhoods in Chicago in which they woulda made a good investment.

But am I growing facetious? Not really. In order to be a horror movie, a horror movie needs a real Horror. The creature in "Alien" was truly gruesome. The case of possession in "The Exorcist " was profoundly frightening.

The problem with "The Amityville Horror" is that, in a very real sense, there's nothing there. We watch two hours of people being frightened and dismayed, and we ask ourselves . ., what for? If it's real, let it have happened to them. Too bad, Lutzes! If it's made up, make it more entertaining. If they can't make up their minds. . . why should we?


OCTOBER 7 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
From thecanonreview.blogspot.com

This movie review is actually the start of a mini Ryan Reynolds marathon here at The Canon Review. See, the other day I was chilling in the pool with a few peeps, and when the topic of Ryan Reynolds came up, I mentioned that I had not seen many of his movies at all. Well, they laughed at me and called me names, and vowed to never speak to me again unless I watched at least four of his movies and wrote up a review on each one. So, in an effort to win back the respect I have lost, here is the first of four Ryan Reynolds movies to be reviewed this week, the 2005 remake The Amityville Horror. Distributed by MGM and Dimension Films, and directed by Andrew Douglas (a first time director who hasn't directed another film since), The Amityville Horror stars Reynolds, Melissa George, Phillip Baker Hall, Jesse James, Chloe Moretz, and Rachel Nichols. In The Amityville Horror, the Lutz family (with Reynolds as George Lutz and George as Kathy) stumble across what they consider to be their dream house. Despite hearing that a brutal murder took place in the same house years ago, the Lutzes decide to buy the house anyway, figuring what's the worse that can happen? Well, as the movie illustrates, a lot can happen. A few notes about this film:

- Although the book 'The Amityville Horror' is supposedly based on a true story, this version bears little resemblence to the original source material. Yes, the characters are still named the Lutzes and they live in a haunted house in Long Island, but this version has the father go crazy a la Jack Torrance in The Shining, to the point where I kind of expected Reynolds to chop through the door with an ax and yell "Here's Johnny!" The actual George Lutz wasn't really pleased with Reynolds' portrayal of him, so he decided to sue the makers of the movie. I don't really know what the result of the lawsuit was, but Lutz passed away not long after filing suit.

- The Amityville Horror was directed by Andrew Douglas, but it was also produced by Michael Bay, and this film has Bay's influence all over it. As such, the film looks sharp and there are lots of special effects thrown in there seemingly just to throw them in there. Since the movie's script was kind of thin, Douglas decided to compensate by throwing nearly every horror movie cliche in that he could think of. From maggots on the wall, to visions of blood spewing everywhere, to an attack by a bunch of flies, to George nearly being drowned in the bathtub for whatever reason, this film tries hard to fit in as much cliches as possible. Also, the script writers decided that a ghost of one of the murder victims, a little girl named Jodi, would make a great addition to the story, so they threw her in there so she could torture a mean babysitter from her life. What fun!

- As far as the acting goes, I'll be kind and say that it wasn't too bad. Reynolds was decent as George Lutz. Yes, he was basically doing an impression of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but at least he was halfway convincing as a man that had lost his mind. Although I get the feeling that he was cast not only because of his acting talents, but because of his abs, as he is shirtless for almost half the movie. Also, for some reason, George begins to have an obsession with chopping firewood, which I guess is meant to be a sign that a man is losing his mind. As Kathy Lutz, Melissa George was competent enough, although the script mainly portrayed her as little more than a hapless victim throughout the majority of the film. The child actors (James, Moretz, and Jimmy Bennett), aren't too bad, I suppose.

- However, if I was George Lutz and I had inherited a brood like that after marrying Kathy, I might go insane after a while myself. Michael (Bennett) is a strange little kid, but he's the least of George's problems. The oldest one, Billy, is not very fond of George and spends most of the movie whining about how he's old enough to do this or that or whatever, while the daughter Chelsea is seemingly possessed by a dead girl to the point where she nearly jumps off the damn roof, and then screams at her mother after she denies the existence of the dead girl. Worse yet, the dang dog won't stop barking and somehow finds his way into the boathouse every night. Yeah, the house being haunted may not have helped George's state of mind, but the kids and the dog did him no favors either.

- One of the more ridiculous sideplots of the movie involved the babysitter (Nichols). It starts will Billy quibbling about not needing a babysitter to the point where you want George to send Billy out to cut some more firewood so he can get the hell off the screen, and then here comes the babysitter, looking as if she came out of the pages of Young Hooker Monthly. Instead of sending this girl away, George makes some crack to Billy about wanting a sitter now and the couple goes on their merry way. While at the house, the babysitter smokes some pot, hangs out on Billy's bed and seems to want to jump the little tyke's bones before telling Billy about the murders that took place here. She then goes up to Chelsea's room, and she's saying something about Jodi not liking her or something, and eventually Billy makes a dare with the sitter to go into the closet where Jodi was murdered. Well, she goes in there, and here's Jodi. Naturally, the door will not open, so the sitter's in there with a crazed Jodi, whom for some reason makes the sitter feel her bullet hole and causes all sort of fast-cut chaos before the sitter is wheeled out shaking on a stretcher. You know what? Describing it isn't enough, so WHO WANTS TO SEE IT?

Overall, I'm not a fan of this movie. At times, the movie jumped around at a breakneck pace, so you never got any real sense of what George and Kathy were like before all the craziness started happening. The movie relied way too much on special effects and horror cliches, and the actors had little to do but just react to whatever CGI madness they were supposed to react to. Also, for what is supposed to be a 'true story', there are way too many elements of the story that are too remarkable to be true. At the end of the day, what you get is a mediocre at best horror film that is short on story and horror, but not short of special effects. I'd give it a 3 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any ideas for future posts on this blog, or thoughts about this movie, then share those either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at kthec2001@gmail.com.


OCTOBER 7 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
From horrornews.net

SYNOPSIS:

This 1979 chiller is based on the reportedly true story of George Lutz (James Brolin) and his wife, Kathleen (Margot Kidder), who move into their Long Island dream house with their children. But the Lutz’s lives turn into a hellish nightmare as the legacy of a murder committed on the premises gradually affects the family. Even the priest they call in, Father Delaney (Rod Steiger), cannot exorcise the demonic presence from the home.

REVIEW:

Screenplay by: Sandor Stern
Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg
Starring: James Brolin, Rod Steiger and Margot Kidder
Based on the novel by: Jay Anson

Hell-o, homebodies of Horror. It is with great pleasure that I give you all the review of the second film that got me into the Horror Genre when I was three years old. The second “doorway” into my realm of lifelong Horror addiction (the first was The Town That Dreaded Sundown, review coming soon)… The Amityville Horror. A timeless classic that lives within the hearts (and if you’re Horror fans, your homes) of many. A re-make was just released a few years ago (of course) that fails in comparison to this paramount of a Horror monument. A little background on the story…

The actual home that the film is based off of is known as the “most haunted house in America” and “the most frightening house in America.” Another home was originally on the property, built in seventeen eighty two. It was moved off of the land and the infamous house that is in its place now was built in nineteen twenty eight. Many speculate as to if the Lutzes were telling the truth, or making the whole thing up as a publicity hoax. They claim that the house taunted them and a priest that they invited into the home to cleanse it of the evil. Twenty eight days after moving in, George and Kathy Lutz, their children and the family dog fled the home and was said to never returned again. Some say in fact, this is not true. Some say they actually did return a few months later to gather some of their belongings. The house now has a new appearance and address, with trees covering the front. The “evil eye” windows have been changed to square ones.

Nevertheless (after some advice from investigators, a priest and a lawyer), they sold the story to an editor that did not want to show his name as an Author, but handled the writing anyway. His name was Jay Anson and he later wrote the book, The Amityville Horror, in which this film was based. The book and film are said to be extremely over exaggerated and far from the truth of what really happened in the home. The Lutz also ran into trouble from a few different sides for their story. Their personal lives were affected as well. Actual residents of the home have said the scariest thing about the home has been the many wandering and curious trespassers onto their property. The movie was the highest grossing independent film for eight consecutive tears until it was knocked from its throne..

The film is awesome and still stands today as one of the best ghost stories and Horror films ever made. A creepy atmosphere, dark throughout and the acting is for the most part, superb. Margot Kidder (of the original Black Christmas) does a fantastic job as Kathy Lutz. James Brolin (who got his start in acting from truck commercials) does an awesome job as George as well. He goes from loving father… to almost evil bastard. The children, for their age, also act their parts very well.

This film has remained one of my favorites as practically a baby. It has not left my collection every since. He sequels are also included. Of course, none of the sequels live up to the original, based after the book. In my opinion, this is the monster of haunted house films. One that in the Horror genre… cannot and must not be ignored. Some of the current residents of Amityville, Long Island would beg to differ and are not too keen on (and some are not kind to) the continuous, year after year stream of curious visitors to this legendary home.

The Amityville Horror is filled with haunts and disturbing imagery that were original for its time. Which such gags as the bleeding walls, the herd of flies that swarmed the priest in the sewing room, the crumbling holy statue in the eyes of the Priest… and of course, there’s the now infamous verbal command of the home… “GET… OUT!” The house is alive, and it’s pissed. The score is creepy and soothing at the same time. It sets the tone to let the hauntings begin. The sounds of drums are also used in a fright inducing manner, as they subtly play form the living room as the Lutzes sleep.

On the set of filming, it is said that the crew made up different ghost stories to tell the press. The media ate it up with a silver spoon. There were psychics called to the home after the Lutzes fled to investigate the occurrences. Some say nothing happened, others beg to differ. One reporter (that spent the night in the home) said that the true fright came from viewing the film in the theater with the pot smoking crowd.

There are some of the actual story that the movie did not tell in the right light. I am a stickler for the truth in true stories. “The red room,” as it was called, was known as “the gateway to Hell” in the film. In actuality, it was a play room built by the family that lived in the home before the Lutzes. The family that is mentioned at the very beginning of the film. Also, the bartender said that George reminded him of the kid that lived there before him. He was arrested sitting in that same spot. That is also untrue. He was arrested at the prison as he was kept for protective custody. Which brings me to the story of the prequel. The proven true history of the house. The story that many called the real Amityville Horror… The original has spawned many sequels (and the re-make). The Amityville Horror II: The Possession, The Amityville Horror 3-D, The Amityville Dollhouse and The Amityville Curse… also based off of a novel by Hanz Holzer, a Paranormal Investigator that also spent the night in the home). Part two: The Possession is still very over exaggerated, but gets closer to the truth of the home than any other sequel (with the exception of the demonic possession and the way the family was murdered)… The Defeo family (or as known in The Possession, The Montelli family)…

In November of nineteen seventy four, the prior owner of the home’s eldest son, Ronald “Butch” Defeo Jr.., killed his entire family as they slept in their beds (in the sequel, the killing did not quite go the way as it truthfully did). He was sent into the station for police protection after telling authorities that a hit man killed his family. From there, he has never left. He had several other stories of how his family was murdered that night. It happened in a very different way than explained in the original and its sequel. Some even say his eldest sister helped, but that has not been proven with solidarity and the possibility was thrown out in court, due to his original confession (… a first of many) A prequel to this film about what truly happened in this now infamous house needs to be made (112 Ocean Avenue for bid now at www.abbotmanagement.com).

All in all, The Amityville Horror is a movie that actually, you should have already seen. If you have not, shame on you ( not two thousand and five re-make, which changed the story line and even the address of the house… I’m talking about the original). The frights of the home have held up after many years and will never cease to exist. This film should be in the dvd (or video) library of every Horror fan. Maybe it will be the “doorway” into your childrens’ lifelong dimension of Horror as well. I give this film, The Amityville Horror, FOUR IMMORTAL HORNS UP.


OCTOBER 7 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
From cinemablend.com

The one true test of a good horror movie is its ability to scare you, regardless of how old you may be or how many horror flicks you’ve seen over the years. Despite being a remake, The Amityville Horror succeeds not only as a movie that’s able to scare the bejeezus of you, but also as an all around well done film.

Based on the 1979 film of the same name (and the novel that depicts the proclaimed “true events”) The Amityville Horror tells the story of a haunted house and the effect it has on the people who live within. The first people we see, the DeFeo family, are at the end of their time in the house. They have lived within the doors of “High Hopes” for twenty eight days when we join them, twenty eight days which have taken their toll on eldest son Ronald DeFeo. Ronald, through a spooky montage of shots, proceeds to move through the house and kill his family in their sleep, all except his youngest sister Jodie who has awakened and is hiding in the closet. Declaring his love for his sister, he executes her as well, and we are treated to a sequence of police and news reports, bringing us up to speed on the events that happened after the Amityville murders, as Ronald claims he was possessed and saw his family as demons which voices told him to kill.

A year later a new family moves into High Hopes – one with enough troubles without difficulties of a possessed home. George (Ryan Reynolds) and Melissa Lutz (Melissa George) are recently married, and George is having a bit of a time convincing Melissa’s kids that he’s not a bad guy and that it’s okay for them to miss their departed father. Even as soon as their first day in the Amityville home odd occurrences start to happen. Over the next few weeks George starts acting darker and haggard, daughter Chelsea (Chloe Moretz) makes a new “invisible” friend named Jodie, and Melissa realizes there may be something evil within her new home. As day twenty-eight gets closer and closer, Melissa tries to discover the secret behind her house and save her family from the evil forces at work in her living room.

The trend in modern day horror films is to toss a few currently popular faces in and shoot for a PG-13 rating, thus attracting the teenage crowd. Unfortunately nine times out of ten what you end up with is a mindless, poorly acted story that was hastily thrown together in an attempt to win one box office weekend for the studio (a trend that has been backfiring as of late by the way). I’m glad to say that The Amityville Horror doesn’t fall into any of these traps, and that just about every step is as solid as you can get. From script to screen, director Andrew Douglas and producer Michael Bay make all the right decisions, and the first was to avoid the PG-13 rating and go straight for an “R”. Now, this isn’t a hard “R” picture. There aren’t rivers of blood or tons of nakedness, but it is definitely worthy of its rating, if only for the scarier moments of the film.

The other choice Douglas and Bay stick to is to keep everything related to the story. Like most horror films, The Amityville Horror has startling moments designed to keep its audience on the edge of their seats. However, there are no errant cats thrown in just for a surprise here. Every little “gotcha” moment is true to the story, not only building the tension of the film, but also adding to the horror of the total situation. It’s a magnificent choice that many other modern movies could learn from.

Ryan Reynolds has to carry a lot of the movie’s weight. If we don’t believe he’s slowly coming apart at the seams, the entire plot is ruined. Fortunately, he is more than up to the task. Evoking a bit of James Brolin (who starred in the original) and a lot of Jason Lee (enough that I thought Lee was starring in this when I saw the initial trailer), Reynolds plays a very real character. In the beginning of the film his actions are natural. If you’ve ever seen a man trying to make peace and act as a friend to his step kids there’s a certain feel to it - maybe the awkwardness of the situation. Reynolds captures that feeling perfectly, which makes it all the harder to watch his character fall apart. Reynolds conveys more emotion with his eyes than most of today’s popular television actors who are typically thrown in these movies communicate in their entire careers, and he does it with a passion and intensity that makes you feel desperately sorry for whatever his character is going through. It’s a transformation akin to Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance (The Shining) and if Reynolds can show that sort of range and emotion in a horror film, imagine what he could accomplish as a dramatic actor.

Reynolds doesn’t stand alone in the acting category though. Almost all of the performances are worthy of note, particularly the children who (for the most part) avoid being precocious. One of the younger actresses specifically deserves a mention - , Isabel Conner, whose ghost character Jodie is creepy enough to give The Ring’s little girl a run for her money. It’s not just the makeup either. One of Conner's sorrowful smiles is on par with Reynolds' eyes. If you’re any sort of red blooded male though, you won’t be able to miss Rachel Nichols’ performance as Lisa the baby-sitter. Lisa becomes the worst baby-sitter ever captured on film as she reveals the house’s history to the Lutz children, but damn if she isn’t hot while she’s doing it.

One of the major concerns I had going into Amityville was its running time. At just over an hour and a half I was worried the movie would feel rushed or too short. Instead it feels just right, setting a pace fast enough to keep the audience from getting bored, but slow enough that you can easily track what’s going on in the important parts of the story. Unlike the last horror remake Michael Bay produced, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this film actually manages to improve on its source material... of course, the original Amityville Horror wasn’t exactly a work of art. Bay and Douglas have done well with this remake, staying respectful to the original material while making the right changes to turn this remake into a more solid picture as a whole. They’ve structured their version as a true piece of rated-R horror: a film that keeps you in suspense on the edge of your seat, and then pushes you off when it can get away with it.


OCTOBER 7 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
From talktalk.co.uk

A worldwide phenomenon during the 1970s, Jay Anson's story of the macabre goings on in an ordinary American house spawned a hugely successful movie in 1979 and a string of lesser sequels. A generation later Michael Bay's production arm Platinum Dunes has followed the same route it took in 2003 (when it remade The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and brought a notorious horror film up to date for a new audience. With the reworking of TCM taking $80m at the American box office, there's no reason why the formula shouldn't work again second time around.

A brief refresher for anyone who may have forgotten or isn't old enough to remember a story that was the staple diet of Sunday tabloids in the 70s. In 1974 a young man named Ronal De Feo Jr murdered six members of his family in their Long Island home. He claimed the house spoke to him and told him to do it. The case became a notorious cause celebre one year later when a new family moved into the residence. George Lutz and his wife and children fled the house 28 days later, again claiming that mysterious and upsetting things were happening.

Andrew Douglas's film, set firmly in 1975, examines the Lutz's story. Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George play the happy couple who can't believe that they have found such a bargain home (despite the obvious jitters that the estate agent displays upon entering the building). It's not long before George himself is showing symptoms akin to The Shining's Jack Torrance: shutting himself off from his family, believing he is hearing voices and being powered by a force inside the house.

There may yet be life in the haunted house tale on screen, but this remake exhibits very little of it. It's a non-stop assault on the senses with the director and screenwriter using every trick in the book to scare the wits out of the audience. And while one or two of the jump shock moments may initially work, their overuse becomes jarring. Spooky kids appearing and disappearing, dead animals, blood creeping out of the walls all form a familiar recipe that has been used countless times before.

Aside from an entertaining sequence involving a ghoul-struck babysitter and some obvious flair with a camera on the part of the director, The Amityville Horror has very little to recommend it. Both leads struggle with a script that becomes increasingly comical, culminating in the inevitable arrival of a priest (one can only hope Philip Baker Hall was well rewarded for his trouble) and a ludicrous explanation involving an ancient burial ground. If you've never seen a horror film or never been to the cinema before then The Amityville Horror might just work, but anyone with even the most basic understanding of the genre will leave the cinema laughing rather than being petrified.


OCTOBER 7 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
From zboneman.com

The Amityville Horror is a sloppy, incoherent slice of so-called terror that shamelessly borrows from The Sixth Sense and The Shining, but is unable to generate the drama of the first or the ominous sense of foreboding of the latter.

In this remake of the 70's haunted house thriller starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder, Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder) and Melissa George play a recently married couple who, along with her three children, move into a hefty sized home in the Amityville countryside. Unfortunately, this home was the site of a violent massacre only year prior (funny how Reynolds and George knew nothing about the murders - you'd think they would have heard about the slayings some time during the house-hunting process). Upon moving into the home, a number of odd occurences begin to take place, and before long, Reynolds finds himself suffering from a bad case of insomnia. Soon, it becomes clear that this ordinarily sweet-natured man is an entirely different person whenever he's inside the house. Could there be supernatural forces at play?

As far as Amityville thrillers go, let's face it - The Amityville Horror is no Jaws. And even though I wouldn't proclaim the original Amityville Horror a flawless work of gothic terror, it's a masterpiece compared to this tepid remake. I'd rank this Michael Bay produced schlock-fest somewhere alongside the dull Amityville Horror sequels.

This Amityville Horror has very few scares to speak of, but it's the clumsy direction and writing that really had me dumbfounded. This film unfolds in such a slap-dash manner, that it felt as if chunks of the movie were missing. At one point, I thought that perhaps the film reels had been strung together wrong, but soon I realized that this was in fact the way the movie was put together. Much of it just didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. We get a shot of Ryan Reynolds ripping a phone off the wall in the kitchen during a cell conversation with the Mrs. - then suddenly, he's in a boat house confronting his concerned wife. There's obviously been some sort of time lapse, but if there's supposed to be some sort of explanation for this confusing sequence, none was offered. There's just no solid sense of timing or pacing to be found in this movie.

The cast is unable to bring much to the table, although Ryan Reynolds (or as I like to call him - the poor man's Jason Lee) has a few inspired moments. There's a wickedly funny scene in which he orders his step son to hold a piece of wood in place so he can chop it in two with his axe. But his subsequent descent into madness doesn't work in the slightest, because it isn't gradual enough. The Shining handled an all too similar plot devise much more effectively. Try as he might, Reynolds never really pulls it off, but he does put forth a game effort. At any rate, the screenwriters are at fault not the actors.

The screenplay possesses not even the most miniscule iota of originality to offer. When it's not rehashing the events prominent in it's source material, it's simply taking from other (and far superior) works of horror. And some of the supernatural happenings here are so lame, it was hard not to giggle at them. Take for instance a scene in which George tracks down a priest (Philip Baker Hall) who bolted from her home earlier in the film (he becomes terrified after being attacked by thousands of flies). She asks him why he ran from their home and the priest replies; "your house scares me." This film is more silly than scary. And don't get me started on the stupid, sequel ready ending, one that rivals that ridiculous cheap scare at the end of The Grudge remake from last year.

If the film makers would have used the silly factor to their advantage, they might have been onto something. For a fleeting second, I thought the movie might become entertaining. At one moment in the picture, a slutty babysitter (played by a lively Rachel Nichols) is introduced to the plot. I'm thinking-"GREAT! The Amityville Whore!" The provocatively dressed teenager struts around acting like an idiot, and even goes so far as to playfully flirt with George's twelve year old son (played by Jesse James). I'm thinking at the very least, this brings a little welcome camp value to the table. Alas, the babysitter only hangs around for about five minutes before being psychologically tortured by an irritated poltergeist. Thus we barely have time to get our hopes up and "poof" the Amityville whore is history. Pity.

Director Andrew Douglas (SURPRISE! He used to make music videos) bombards the audience with a lot of flash and quick cuts (not surprising given this movie was produced by Michael Bay) and for a while there, I thought I was watching a sequel to that awful Thirteen Ghosts remake from a few years back. I will give Douglas props for one intense sequence in which George's youngest daughter scales the top of the roof at the request of a ghost who resides in the house. It is the one and only scene in the entire film that actually generates any real spine-tingling.

The Amityville Horror is rated R which is refreshing given the current trend of PG-13 rated horror films, but an R rating does not a great scary picture make. A few shots of sub par gore cannot hide the fact that this is a pretty weak movie. It isn't flat out awful, but it's hardly memorable, and quite frankly, it's over before anything really happens. File this Amityville Horror under "forgettable" right alongside Boogeyman.



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