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Amityville Horror: A true story

by Mark Smith, staff writer


On April 15, 2005, a remake of the haunted house horror film, The Amityville Horror, was released in theaters. While the movie was promoted as a true story, the film did more to sensationalize the events rather than document them.


So what was the purpose of remaking The Amityville Horror? Melissa George, who played the role of Kathy Lutz in the movie, claimed in an interview with Yahoo! News that this movie was not a remake of the original 1979 version, which starred Margot Kidder and James Brolin, but was based on the actual events depicted in Jay Anson’s book. For those who have read the book, George’s claim was misleading. In fact, the events in this film were extreme exaggerations and very few of which were based on any of the actual phenomena reported by the Lutz family. Even the house has a new look.

The small town of Amityville is located on the south shore of Long Island in New York. The Amityville Horror tells the story of two families, the DeFeos and the Lutzes. The DeFeos met a tragic end in November 1974 at the hands of their oldest son Ronny, who claimed that a ghostly entity within the house forced him to kill his family. The movie focuses more on the Lutz family and their experiences in the DeFeo house one year after the murders.

The Lutzes moved into the house in December 1975. During their 28-day stay, they experienced fly infestations despite colder than normal temperatures, disembodied voices, strange fluctuations in temperature, mysterious sounds, the smell of stale perfume, and recurring black stains on bathroom fixtures, none of which were emphasized in the new version of the film. Two more disturbing events convinced the Lutz’s that something was seriously wrong with their new home. The discovery of a secret room in the basement, which scared the family dog, as well as the ghostly appearance of their daughter’s imaginary friend, sent the family to seek aid from their church.

When all attempts to rid the house of its supernatural presence failed, the Lutz family fled for their lives...and as a result, their experience spawned a series of books and low-budget films.
The Lutz’s claims didn’t go unchallenged. Throughout the years, their story has been the subject of media debate. While some experts in the field of parapsychology claimed to have validated the Amityville haunting, there are those who believe the Lutzes made up their story to profit off the DeFeo tragedy.

To celebrate the release of this new version of The Amityville Horror, MGM Studios released a DVD box set of the first three movies in the series. The set also comes with a bonus documentary DVD that better details the reported events than the new movie. The documentary also offers expert commentary from those who investigated the actual haunting.

Whether or not people believe in the events publicized in The Amityville Horror, one thing remains certain, it has become the most popular haunted house story in America.



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