Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Canon Movie Review: The Amityville Horror (1979)

Since I already watched the so-called remake of this movie, I figured that I would go ahead and watch the original, the 1979 horror film The Amityville Horror. This in spite of the fact that I was told it was actually worse than the 2005 version, which I would think would be hard to accomplish. Based on the 'true' story of the Lutz family as written by author Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror was distributed by American International Pictures and directed by Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke, Brubaker). The film stars James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger, Don Stroud, Murray Hamilton, and Helen Shaver. In The Amityville Horror, the Lutz family, including George (Brolin) and Kathy (Kidder), move into to a house on Long Island with a dark history. Hoping that they've found their dream home, the Lutzes soon realize that this is the house that nightmares are made of, and so they consult Father Delaney (Steiger) to get rid of the spirits. But can he get rid of the spirits, or have he and the Lutz family gotten more than what they bargained for? A few notes about this film:

- Because I watched the remake before the original, I couldn't help but think back to the similarities and differences of the two movies. In the original, Amy's (the daughter) imaginary friend was Jodi, some sort of demonic pig (yep, a demonic pig). In the remake, Jodi was the ghost of one of the victims in the DeLeo murders. I honestly can't decide which one was worse. Just like the remake, George is always complaining about being cold and has an obsession with chopping fire wood. In the remake, the audience gets a lot of shots of a shirtless Ryan Reynolds, which does nothing for me, while in the original, you get a sequence of James Brolin walking around in his briefs. Gee, thanks a lot. In the original, the priest and the religious aspect of the story play a much bigger role, as does Kathy Lutz, who was little more than an unwilling victim in the remake.

- You know, I might not be an expert on horror movies, but I think that one of the things its supposed to do is to provide a sense of terror and fear throughout the viewing audience. Maybe it's just me, but there's not a lot here that I would consider particularly scary. Yes, I suppose that a giant gathering a flies is kind of odd, but more annoying than scary. There's some black ink coming out of the toilet, a window closes on a kid's hand (yet doesn't break any bones), 1,500 dollars goes missing for no reason, and oh yeah, the house has a portal to hell. Plus it seems to attract lightning and it's phone keeps messing up when talking to priests. To me, all of the effects and events seem kind of dull, actually, and didn't really add any suspense to the film. Then again, maybe I'm just jaded by the whole horror film genre.

- As George Lutz, James Brolin makes a more convincing crazed lunatic than Reynolds did. Then again, Brolin started the film as an aloof guy with the look of a man that has hidden a few bodies in the basement before, so it's not that much of a stretch. At least in this version, George kind of realizes what is happening and doesn't go completely psychotic. He even tries to find out the root behind this problem by stealing a library book. Why he didn't just check the book out is a mystery. Plus, in this version, George begins to look like the killer of the Amityville murders, although what significance this has is never really explained. Overall, I'd say Brolin did an average job, although the scene where he shouts "I'm Coming Apart" somewhat reminded me of Tommy Wiseau's acting in The Room, and no, that is not a compliment.

- Meanwhile, Academy Award winner (but not for this film) Rod Steiger tries to steal the show as Father Delaney. To say the Steiger was hamming it up is a bit of an understatement, as he practically shouts every line and has two extremes, either quiet and still, or raving like a lunatic. Steiger's acting was almost comical in this film. Plus, even though he was only in that house one time, Father Delaney kept suffering misfortune after misfortune thanks to his one visit. The poor guy even went blind. I'm not sure how a house can posses a person from 20 miles away, but by golly that's what it did here. As for Kiddor, well, let's just say she acted with all the intensity that LeBron James showed in the fourth quarter of NBA Finals games.

- The script of The Amityville Horror has quite a few loose ends that just go dangling. For one, what the heck happened to that police officer that surveyed the Lutz house for two days or so, tried to talk to Delaney, then disappeared into thin air. There's also the drunk with a six pack of beer that shows up at Kathy's door, then disappears a minute later without explanation. What happened to the 1,500 dollars that disappeared? And what would a house do with 1,500 dollars anyway? What happened to George's friend's wife after she got possessed? I guess the answers to these questions were just left to twist in the wind.

Overall, I will say that this was better than the remake, but just barely. The script was better paced, but still had a lot of loose ends. There was slightly more character development in this film, but not enough to make any of the Lutz family characters you really care about. Some people consider this one of the great horror movies of its era, but I'm not seeing how that's possible. The acting was sometimes way too over-the-top, the effects were more silly than scary, and the ending was rather anticlimactic. Overall, I'd give this Amityville Horror a 3.2 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this review or film, or ideas for future reviews, then feel free to share by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at kthec2001@gmail.com.

For the trailer, watch here: http://youtu.be/p35R8X5l0cU

1 comment:

  1. movie was decent i guess , i did like the creepy old camera it was filmed with, and good point i always wonder what happen to the drunk man ha ...