Saturday, March 9, 2013

Jason versus The Amityville Horror (1979)

Having recently read Jay Anson's allegedly true account of the ordeal the Lutz family faced in the now infamous Long Island home, I thought it was time to revisit the first of 10 -- count 'em 10 -- films based on the subject matter. How does it hold up? Stick with me!

Newlyweds move into a house where a murder was committed, and experience strange manifestations which drive them away. 

The funny thing about the 1979 version of The Amityville Horror, and even the 2005 remake, is how much it deviates from the story. Anson's book, bullshit or not, has some pretty incredible stuff in it. And there's no doubt all of it would have made for frightening cinema. But good 'ole Hollywood has to put its on stamp on things.

Most surprising is how Stuart Rosenberg's film plays up George Lutz's descent into insanity, to the point where he's willing to go Jack Nicholson on his family with an axe. This too was played up in the Andrew Douglas's 2005 redo, probably because that's how everyone believes events played out.

But it isn't. Nope. George stays pretty tight with his family. Sorry world.

The 1979 film takes many more liberties with the story of what went on 112 Ocean Ave. I'm not going to waste yours and my time going over them all. As a movie, it's OK. Not really scary, but not a bad watch either. I found it hard to distance myself from Anson's book while watching it. The book isn't awesome, and I question its validity, but it feels a lot more real than the events depicted in this feature film.

For a retro watch, the 1979 version of The Amityville Horror is passable, but not something I'd revisit often (hate to say it, but the remake is far more entertaining). I'm giving it a Bad. 
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