Review: The Amityville Horror

Blu-ray: The Amityville Horror (1979)

When the Lutz’s knowingly move into a murder house with their children, they believe everything will be alright. No prizes to guess the outcome.

How odd that despite having watched this a few times over the years, I had absolutely NO recollection of it, so my reviewing was more or less like a first showing. Director Stuart Rosenberg, famous for classics such as Cool Hand Luke, made this movie a little before similar populist horror such as Poltergeist, The Shining and The Changeling, and you can certainly see the appeal it had for a mass audience. Not gross enough to get on a video nasty list and definitely not good enough to join the echelons of Alien or dare I say – Salem’s Lot. There isn’t much gore or any amazing special effects and in truth it has the feel of a staid version of Robert Wise’s The Haunting. It’s almost a throwback, of itself. Boasting a great cast, including the mighty Rod Steiger, an incredibly hirsutely-sexy James Brolin and a fresh faced, beautiful and definitely the best thing in it Margot Kidder, this film is strangely … silly.
Brolin’s descent into madness is laugh out loud funny, with his red rimmed eyes and back combed and over hair sprayed hair, when Rod Steiger’s priest goes blind I nearly spat out my cup of tea. Of course this is unintentionally funny, and watching Brolin scream out clutching his Phil Spector/Hair Bear Bunch hair is a sight to behold. However this is topped by the reveal of Jody, the Lutz’s daughter’s imaginary friend. Which I think was a pig, with red glowing eyes hovering around the bedroom window. I actually laughed out loud at that bit.

Infamously, The Amityville Horror was supposedly based on a true story. Which later was said to be a hoax concocted for money, which in turn was disputed by Daniel Lutz, the real life son of Kathy and stepson of George, and here is the gold of this new release, the inclusion of Daniel’s documentary ‘My Amityville Horror’ which is genuinely scary and well worth the cover price, which along with the other great special features makes this a worthy addition to any horror aficionados collection.

There’s some great extras on this disc and I have to say, despite thinking the film is more than a bit daft, it didn’t bore me, but rather waiting for Brolin to chop his family up was… thrilling (that hair…). One notable plus is the child actors are great, not annoying at all. Unfortunately there is no subtly in this film at all, no real sense of danger or even any surprise SHOCKS a la James Wan (though I think if he remade this, the inclusion of pounding music would be bloody awful). There is no eerie atmosphere, and that’s it major failing. I wanted it to be 70’s scary, but nope. I can’t get the image of Brolin’s hair out of my head.

    • ‘Brolin Thunder’ – A new interview with actor James Brolin
    • ‘Child’s Play’ – A new interview with actor Meeno Peluce
    • ‘Amityville Scribe’ – A new interview with screenwriter Sandor Stern
    • ‘The Devil’s Music’ – A new interview with soundtrack composer Lalo Schifrin
    • ‘My Amityville Horror’ – feature-length documentary with Daniel Lutz
    • ‘For God’s Sake, Get Out’ – featuring James Brolin and Margot Kidder
    • Intro by Dr. Hans Holzer, PhD. in parapsychology (author of ‘Murder in Amityville’) • Audio commentary by Dr. Hans Holzer
    • Original trailer, TV spot, radio spots
    • Four reproduction lobby card postcards (SteelBook Exclusive)
    • New optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

The Amityville Horror will be available to buy in a swanky steelbook edition from 26th June, 2017.

Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Second Sight Films via Aim Publicity.