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1 review, 47 user ratings

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Amityville Horror, The (1979)
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by Matt Mulcahey

"If a voice in your house says “Get Out,” you should probably listen"
3 stars

The problem with haunted house movies is that, at some point, you inevitably feel compelled to yell at the screen, “For Christ’s sake, get out of the damn house already!”

Though this thought will undoubtedly crawl into your head at some point during The Amityville Horror, the movie prolongs the epiphany long enough to rise above its rather dubious reputation as one of the 70s least worthy box office successes.

Based on a the supposedly true novel by Jay Anson, the film begins none-too-promisingly with a badly shot murder montage followed by some lazy exposition from a couple of flatfoots played by Val Avery and Back to the Future principal James Tolkan (Jesus, did that guy ever have hair?) It seems a 20-year old man has inexplicably murdered his parents and all four of his siblings with a shotgun. He claimed voices told him to do it.

Cut to one-year later, as a real-estate agent shows the newly married Lutz’s (James Brolin and Margot Kidder) around the home. Down on their luck financially, the Lutz’s think that a Long Island waterfront domicile at the bargain price of $80,000 is worth it even if the last resident did off six family members.

“Houses don’t have memories,” says Brolin, and with that the Lutz’s and their three kids are unpacking.

No sooner than the ink dries on the mortgage, strange goings on start to occur in typical haunted house fashion: doors shut by themselves, bad dreams slip into the subconscious and rocking chairs inexplicably sway.

The most frightening development comes in the form of Brolin, who slowly starts to go Nicholson from The Shining (though only Stephen’s King novel had been released at the time). Though Brolin, better known these days for being Mr. Barbara Streisand, captures his character’s neurosis well, the character has no arc. Director Stuart Rosenberg (talk about slumming, this guy made Cool Hand Luke and The Pope of Greenwich Village) and screenwriter Sandor Stern never let us get to know Brolin beforehand. So when he starts yelling at the kids and becomes obsessed with an axe its hard to tell if it’s the demonic influence of the house or if Brolin is just an asshole who likes to cut firewood.

To make sure you get the point that it’s the HOUSE that’s evil, anytime someone related to the church enters they vomit and become violently ill (including priest Rod Steiger, an actor who always tip toes right to the edge of over the top and takes a big-time tumble here).

The strange occurrences continue, but they aren’t particularly frightening. Flies gather at a certain window, the cash for Kiddor’s brother’s wedding caterer disappears, the toilet blocks up with black sludge. Hardly the work of terrifying forces of evil. Tom Hanks and Shelly Long had it worse in The Money Pit, though rendering Brolin impotent is pretty cold-hearted.

None of these ghostly acts is enough to compel you to stand up, hurl a milk dud at the screen, and declare, “Get out of the house you morons.”

However, that moment is quickly to come.

Because the movie never manages to make the house a character unto itself, much less the menacing gateway of evil the story proports it to be, the filmmakers felt they needed a little more. So they added a completely ridiculous subplot, with Brolin and Kidder discovering the house was built by some loony run out of Salem for witchcraft.

THIS is the point at which you pack up your shit and get the hell out of Dodge.

Not in this movie.

Still not convinced by the whole “gateway to hell in the basement” thing, Kidder decides to do some research on the murders (Hey, maybe that’s something you should’ve done before you bought the house) and finds that the nutjob who took target practice on his family is a dead-ringer for Brolin.

OK, no question about it, time to relocate.

Not in this movie, as the fam sticks around until the walls start dripping blood before finally making a run for it.

But it’s a little too late to prevent The Amityville Horror from becoming just another horror flick where the participants are too stupid to avoid danger by simply getting in their car and stepping on the gas pedal.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1933&reviewer=255
originally posted: 04/13/02 22:02:04
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell skip it the books alot better 1 stars
2/24/13 action movie fan okay but not the best of it,s kind 3 stars
12/10/12 Jamie A great movie, the Shining ripped it off. 5 stars
10/29/11 mr.mike I recall it being a diasppointment. Not gonna re-watch it. 3 stars
3/13/10 art REED THE BOOK INSTEAD! B 1 stars
3/02/10 engelheart creepy and haunting,who cares if it isnt true..awesome! 5 stars
2/24/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess I'm glad I'm not the only one who found it lame 2 stars
1/24/10 Chad Dillon Cooper I smell something bad. Didn't know this was in oderama. 1 stars
12/26/09 art AMITYVILLE 2 IS SO MUCH BETTER! 1 stars
11/28/09 art said it before IT"S A FESTIVAL OF PURE HAM! 1 stars
6/06/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess What exactly makes this yawn-fest a 'classic?' 2 stars
5/18/09 art A SMORGOSBORG OF HAM! 1 stars
11/19/08 christal williams the amityville collection was awesome. 5 stars
11/02/08 Dedwyre Suspensful and mysterious. Kind of an anti-climactic ending 4 stars
10/25/07 ProHector Far from the potential provided by the book it was based on. 2 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann A lot of flies on a window is not scary.But Margot Kidder is.I guess it evens out. 1 stars
3/19/07 Vip Ebriega Slow-moving, but overall, a good horror flick 4 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega One of the scariest haunted house horror movies. 4 stars
10/04/06 David Cohen James Brolin and Margot Kidder? What idiot thought that was a good idea? 2 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist An underrated horror classic, the remake was a piece of sh*t,that sucked @$$!!!! 5 stars
7/02/05 Eddie BORING 2 stars
4/13/05 Jeff Anderson Sometimes very tense & acting for the most part is effective, but film is sadly NOT GOOD! 2 stars
4/04/05 gray scared the shit out of me 5 stars
2/24/05 Cooper This is the most horrifying film of the 70's! 5 stars
10/24/04 el burro Horror flicks shouldn't be hilarious. 1 stars
9/25/04 David Fowler Brilliant, engrossing, shamefully underrated. Trully great score by Lalo Schifrin. 5 stars
9/08/04 Scott Hoffman One Of The Best Horror Films Ever Made!!!!!! 5 stars
8/08/04 Samuel A great haunted house movie. 4 stars
6/30/04 joy perdue- david bargeron we thought it was good and we believe that things like that can happen 5 stars
5/02/04 Octopus's Gardener Pretty much the worst ending ever. Absolutely nothing happens, we learn nothing, nothing 1 stars
3/22/04 Trannon Goble Fairly intense 4 stars
3/07/04 john doesn't age well at all - clumsy horror film in the wake of the Exorcist 2 stars
1/15/04 ophylia777 read the book it is way scarier 3 stars
11/17/03 Nikki Jean Theophobia u assholes suck!! this was awesome!!! LONG LIVE JODY THE PIG!!! 5 stars
1/10/03 Allen A few creepy moments, the red eyes in the window. But weirdly uneven. 2 stars
12/28/02 Jack Sommersby Abysmal. Incompetently written and directed. 1 stars
4/25/02 Charles Tatum This film has less credibility than Bill Clinton at a sexual harassment seminar 2 stars
3/17/02 R.W. Welch Unconvincing stuff, almost amaturish at times. 2 stars
10/16/01 Andrew Carden Pretty Scary Movie, A Bit Dull In Some Parts, but The Ending Is Classic. 4 stars
7/25/01 Damien Thorn I liked it even though its really cheesy its a good movie to watch on a rainy day i think. 4 stars
1/29/01 Heather Jones Very far fetched. The story is not true and will NEVER be true!! 1 stars
7/25/00 Tyler Peterson IT SUCKED 1 stars
3/12/00 Shania Twain It Was Shit 1 stars
9/16/99 Matthew Denton scarry as hell 5 stars
8/25/99 Jim Medler some scares, more yawns. 3 stars
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  27-Jul-1979 (R)
  DVD: 05-Apr-2005

  N/A (15)

  02-Feb-1980 (M)

Directed by
  Stuart Rosenberg

Written by
  Jay Anson
  Sandor Stern

  James Brolin
  Margot Kidder
  Rod Steiger
  Don Stroud
  Murray Hamilton
  John Larch

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