I went through Amityville hell and lived to tell about it

It’s the franchise that just won’t die. After the 2005 remake, the horror got resurrected in the new decade with loads of indie titles taking on the Amityville universe. I can’t believe I just said the Amityville universe.

Here’s the thing, people. Amityville isn’t a made up place from a movie franchise. It’s an actual town on Long Island in New York. Anyone who grew up on Long Island—such as myself—can tell you that everything that goes on in 40-years of Amityville movies is absurdity that could be made without the name of an actual town or house attached to it, especially since most of it doesn’t connect to the DeFeo murders that began all this insanity to begin with.

Yet, the fascination continues, both with the murders and the true or not supernatural terror tale of the Lutz family. To this day, people still drive past the house on Ocean Avenue and post their videos of the experience on YouTube. Oh look, there goes another one now…

 

Hey, what do you want from me? I live two towns away and have friends who want to see the place. At least I’m not one of those assholes who gets out of the car and goes onto the property to point my camera into the windows.

Anyway, back to my blog. I went through the agony of watching every Amityville flick released so far this decade (more are on the way) so that you don’t have to. No seriously, you mostly shouldn’t. And here’s why.

THE AMITYVILLE HAUNTING (2011)

The Amityville Haunting lays claim to the original Amityville house and stories, using title cards to catch us up quickly on both the fates of the DeFeo and Lutz families before launching into an intro scene of stupid teens sneaking into the empty house for sex…with their phone camera on.

Yep, Amityville goes Paranormal Activity. It really does. This is just an exercise in tedium as the new boy who moves into the house with his family films every weird thing he witnesses, which includes quite a few (hot) workers doing projects on the house…

and falling down on the job throughout the course of the film….

Dad is pretty damn hot, too.

At the end, I don’t even know what was going on as we get multiple camera angles in total Paranormal Activity mode, and someone killing everyone—I think maybe a ghost was appearing as different members of the family. Not sure.

I’d sooner watch the two Mark Polonia Amityville movies than this one (see below).

AMITYVILLE ASYLUM (2013)

While Amityville Asylum locks itself in specifically to the actual DeFeo murders story (it begins with a reenactment) and references the Lutz family, based on the accents of most of the actors, it essentially relocates Amityville to the UK…and implies that a tiny insane asylum was built right in between a bunch of houses on a residential street.

That’s right. The story here is that the house was knocked down and an insane asylum was built on “the land.” See, this is what filmmakers get for just watching an Amityville movie or reading a book or two about Ronald DeFeo committing murders because his house was built on Indian burial ground and then making their own Amityville movie. In reality, the “land” the house is on is snuggled between two other houses with only the width of a driveway separating it from the houses on each side. Not to mention, the backyard is a canal where homeowners dock their boats.

Anyway, a girl takes a job cleaning up messes at the insane asylum (she even makes her own mess, sneezing on the hand of the head of the mental hospital when he interviews her). She meets all the crazies that are locked away in basement cells, including a witch. And she keeps seeing a little girl running around the hospital.

The film is atmospheric enough, but the only way it was going to get any viewership is with the Amityville name attached. The girl eventually learns from a friend about the history of the Amityville house (how come the people in these movies have never heard about the Amityville house, yet people in fucking England are still making movies about it 40 years later?).

I think it’s implied at the end that the ghost of Ronald DeFeo walks around the building shooting everyone like he did his family—and it’s all the fault of the crazy witch locked away in the basement. Even the old Indian burial ground legend is tossed in for good measure. NEXT.

THE AMITYVILLE PLAYHOUSE (aka: Amityville Theater) (2015)

If you’re going to watch a film about kids trapped in a haunted theater overnight, just watch The Gallows. 

Five friends come to spend the night in an abandoned theater in Amityville that a girl inherited and spend a majority of the film talking, so there’s absolutely no excuse for it being an hour and 43 minutes long.

Also, her boyfriend spends the entire film making derogatory comments about his brother’s gay relationship—even though the relationship is frustratingly never verified (the better, fully committed gay Amityville action still to come).

And finally, the group spends a lot of time walking around the place and screaming at the sight of things we never see. Meanwhile, the main girl’s teacher is busy investigating the history of Amityville for her in a branching side story.

Eventually there’s a Ouija incident, and with 20 minutes remaining, the kids turn into low budget versions of Night of the Demons. Really low budget versions (making it my favorite part of the film…).

AMITYVILLE DEATH HOUSE (2015)

Polonia Brother Mark takes on the Amityville legacy…twice! First, there’s Amityville Death House.

 Good GOD is most of this shit awful (you know it’s bad when I put the words “good” and “god” together in one sentence). Kids heading back home from helping with hurricane relief in Florida take a detour to visit one girl’s grandmother in Amityville.

I don’t know what the hell is going on here. Grandma lives in this derelict house,  in a room upstairs looking like a cross between Regan in The Exorcist and The Blair Witch (although we never got to see what the fucking witch looked like).

And there’s some girl they run into on the way to grandma’s house who talks some shit about witches and a family revenge story.

Next thing you know (that’s hyperbole, because the movie felt like it was never going to end), the kids are hanging out in the woods by a campfire, rednecks come out of the woodwork—or out of the woods, in this case—and are killed off in super gory ways at the hands of an old lady witch zombie thing.

Don’t even as me if it’s granny because I really wasn’t paying much attention up to the first kill.

All I know is, I ridiculously enjoyed the old school 80s cheesy demonic/zombie effects and Evil Dead-esque chaos of the final act…and the crawling spider chick.

Eric Roberts is in the film, but apparently realizing just how low he has sunk in taking any role given to him, he wears a satanic cult mask the entire time he is on camera during his brief appearance, so the only way you’ll know it’s him is by his voice.

AMITYVILLE EXORCISM (2017)

Mark Polonia seems to practice tantric Amityville horror, because every time you do it with him, you get bored of waiting for something to happen, then all of a sudden he explodes at the end and gets you right across the eyes.

This awful film begins in first person mode, with a hammer going around konking people in the head. Then we meet the guy who nailed all those people. He’s telling a priest—brace yourself—he’s a carpenter and worked on the infamous Amityville house, took some of the lumber from the place, and was possessed by it. He also used it to build other houses. This sort of stems from the concept of the book Amityville: The Evil Escapes, but we’ll get more into that later on in the blog.

So…the priest sets off to save a family living in one of the houses built using lumber taken from the original Amityville house. More agonizing filmmaking to sit through in this one, but finally the priest locates a single dad and his adult daughter just in time for the daughter to go all Regan MacNeil.

They tie her to a bed, they act more laughable than Leslie Nielsen in Repossessed, the priest is attacked by giggling dolls, and the movie virtually stakes its claim as a direct sequel to the original The Exorcist! WTF? The priest says his brother was a priest who exorcised this demon once before, the daughter demon calls herself “legion” and says she enjoyed throwing his brother out a window and breaking his neck, and then offers up a bunch of sex tips I’ve gotta try.

The daughter rules at the end of this piece of crap. She becomes absolutely giddy when some red robed figure in a red mask appears to help her destroy the priest.

The sad news is, the fun part is over way too fast. Damn. The demon daughter deserved so much more camera time than she got.

AMITYVILLE: NO ESCAPE (2016)

The director of Scarewaves and Babysitter Massacre has a go at the horror house.

No Escape pretty much describes the feeling you get when you start to watch this film, which follows two unrelated stories for no good reason at all—both found footage style. One chick moves into the Amityville house in 1997 and uses a camcorder to send messages to her husband while he’s away in the military. Meanwhile, a group of kids in the present day heads into the woods near the house to face their fears.

Living on Long Island my whole life, I can tell you there are no woods anywhere near the house or in Amityville. It’s entirely filled with lines of houses on suburban blocks.

Anyway, the 1997 chick spends her part of the film flirting with the camera annoyingly and then acting all scared as she learns the truth of the house’s past from a pizza guy or something.

Eventually, it appears someone comes into her room at the end and she runs from the room screaming.

Meanwhile, the kids in the woods talk to each other for their part of the film and eventually start chasing a little girl around the woods.

They get lost in Blair Witch style (aka: boring as fuck style), and begin dropping dead in front of the camera inexplicably in the last 5 minutes.

The end.

THE AMITYVILLE LEGACY (2016)

Back in the late 1980s, a cheesy book called Amityville: The Evil Escapes was released. Essentially, it was a collection of short stories about a bunch of items auctioned off from the Amityville house after the Lutz family fled without any of their belongings. Anyone who bought these items became haunted by the ghosts from the house. Some of these stories were used to continue the movie franchise into the 1990s in movies like The Evil Escapes, It’s About Time, and A New Generation.

If nothing else, The Amityville Legacy, brought to us by the director of Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival, nicely pays homage to that era of the franchise, and even opens with a hokey, 80s-esque reenactment of the original Defeo shootings, soaked in red light and synth music.

But there is more than that. It features a gay couple worried about how they’ll be received at a family reunion by the one gay guy’s widowed father, who is celebrating his 50th birthday.

Truth is, all the siblings are enjoyably kooky. They give dad his presents, including one of those creepy monkey toys one of them found at an antique shop in Amityville.

He becomes possessed (sort of), basically ending up with Ronald DeFeo as the devil on his shoulder, showing him the perverse things his kids are doing in his house and insisting he save them by blowing their brains out.

One of the perverse things dad sees is his son spanking his boyfriend’s ass. Awesome.

Not to mention, daddy is one hot 50-year old, and runs around shirtless for a good portion of the movie showing off his muscles and tats.

Ryan Reynolds who?

It’s short, to the point, and a convoluted mess, but a hot shirtless daddy watches his son spank his boyfriend, so this one is definitely an Âmityville highlight as far as I’m concerned.

THE AMITYVILLE TERROR (2016)

By stealing elements of the earliest films in the Amityville franchise and throwing in a teen protagonist, a cheesy possession segment, and a mish-mosh of other nonsense, The Amityville Terror manages to do a really good impression of being a really bad late 80s/early 90s entry into the series. And I say that in a fairly complimentary, nostalgic way.

A sort of trashy, dysfunctional family moves into a home in Amityville (nope, doesn’t even have the infamous eye windows). The locals are weird (especially the local bar slut witch bitch), and the motorcycle-riding teen daughter has trouble making friends because of her address.

While she’s busy learning about the horror history of her new house from the guy she’s interested in, who even brings his psychic friend over to help her out with the ghost problem, her aunt is getting all chummy with the entity.

After not being amused by anything I was seeing for a majority of the film, I was at last highly entertained by a laughable confrontation between the teen daughter and some mean girls in the woods, as well as the aunt going all demon psycho bitch, which made me smile like it was 1989 all over again.

AMITYVILLE: VANISHING POINT (2016)
 

Look, it’s not often that I turn a movie off, especially when I take on a goal as lofty as watching every crappy Amityville flick out there, but not only does this thing seem to have been shot in a ghetto using a camcorder from 1985, but the only copies of the film I could find all had an entirely unaligned audio track. And even with that issue, I could tell the audio track was a mess of dropped sound and out of place music.

I did, however, fast forward through some of the film, and basically this is what I got. Three girls at a boardinghouse go outside, one of them just drops dead, a detective of the Inspector Clouseau variety tap dances in to the funeral to ask questions about the inexplicable death, and—

That’s where I stopped.

Really, just avoid this one. If you need a further reason, Lloyd Kaufman apparently makes an appearance later on. And nope, don’t know how it’s related to Amityville at all. Never got that far.

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING (2017)

And finally, the moment it’s all been leading up to. The first major Amityville movie release in over a decade, which it took almost half a decade to make. They should have taken the whole decade.

It’s not that Amityville: The Awakening doesn’t have all the usual cheap thrills and chills of every crappy tween supernatural movie pumped out by Hollywood these days. It does. It’s not that it doesn’t begin at the beginning, with the DeFeo murders. It does. It’s not that it doesn’t pay plenty of homage to the original films in the series. It does. It’s not that it doesn’t have kids literally watch 1979’s The Amityville Horror in the house while bashing the remake, which causes the lights to go out at exactly 3:15 a.m. It does…and, EEK!

It’s just that it’s a stupid movie.

Bella Thorne (The Babysitter, MTV’s Scream, Boo! A Madea Halloween) moves with her mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh), little sister, and comatose brother into the house in Amityville. But get this…she’s never heard of the house in Amityville, so a kid at school has to fill her in on all the scary details.

Meanwhile, she begins to have nightmares of the DeFeo murders. Plus, her brother begins to make progress in waking up. And her mother acts all weird and lurks in the shadows of the house with a gun.

This movie is so fucking stupid. Eventually, she learns exactly why her brother is waking up (hint: it has to do with the house), and he starts chasing everyone around the house with a gun looking all demonic while wearing only his pajama bottoms. Sort of like…the kid from Amityville II: The Possession! O…M…G.

But the best has to be the reveal of how her brother became comatose. I won’t spoil it though. Fuck it, yes I will. She took nude photos, some guy in school spread them around, her protective brother went to beat him up, and got thrown out a third story window.

People are getting paid to write this shit and I can barely sell a copy of my book about a fishman that comes out of the sea to rape and kill gay bears. Life just isn’t fair.

 

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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