Jan 011979
one reel

George and Kathy Lutz (James Brolin and Margot Kidder) and their three kids move into a house where there had been a mass murder a year earlier. The house is possessed and affects everyone who enters it. A priest (Rod Steiger) attempts to save the family from the Satanic forces, but is driven away.

The Amityville Horror greatest claim to fame is as a hoax. The film is based on a book which claimed the evil events really happened, and many gullible people bought it. It was years later that it was finally admitted to be a fake. Sorry folks, neither ghosts nor the Prince of Darkness showed up in the Amityville house.

If there is a deep truth in this film, it is that Satan is a wimp. As the king of hell, you’d think he could do some big time evil, but all he manages in The Amityville Horror is to rock furniture, give people the flu, mess with doors and windows, and swipe money. And he does it slowly. This is a plodding movie that builds and then ends. Apparently they forgot to film a climax. The sub-plot with the priest could still be removed (and should be) as he never interacts with the Lutzs. With that out, The Amityville Horror could have dropped the demon angle and been a ghost story; it would have been a poor ghost story, but that’s better than what it is.

The cinematography is pure movie-of-the-week and the acting doesn’t help. Margot Kidder is believable (and very sexy in the scenes designed to show her off), but she’s the only one. Brolin and Steiger combine to form one actor, with Brolin displaying nothing except what appears to be constipation while Steiger tosses his arms around, yells, and pounds on his breast. Subtle acting for a subtle film.

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