I’m kicking off a new I Love Splatter! Project today, in which I am going to watch every single one of my horror dvds in order, from A to Z. Why? I mean, why not? In addition to blogging my way through this adventure, I’m also doing Instagram story videos so you can follow along over there, you know, if you’re into it!
I’m starting with both versions of The Amityville Horror (1979 & 2005), which I scored in a 2-disc set at Scarecrow Video for the bargain price of $2. Here we go!
The Amityville Horror 1979
Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg
Starring: Margot Kidder as Kathy Lutz, James Brolin as George Lutz, and Rod Steiger as Father Delaney
IMDb description: Newlyweds move into a large house where a mass murder was committed, and experience strange manifestations which drive them away. (based on a true story!)
WHAT I REMEMBERED: Not sure when the last time I actually watched this was, but I do remember seeing it several times as a kid and being super freaked out by it. Specifically, I remember a lot of flies and blood dripping down walls — but that’s really about it. I also remember it being very atmospheric, but very talky and kind of boring.
NOW THAT I’VE REWATCHED IT: HOLYCATS this is almost totally different from how I remembered it. First off, from the very beginning they show the original murders happening in which a father is shooting his family — how the hell was I watching this when I was little? Second, Margot Kidder is definitely vamping it up by being super sexy; in one weird, almost softcore porn scene she’s doing ballet exercises while wearing panties, legwarmers, and a shirt that’s totally unbuttoned with no bra. I’m not necessarily complaining about this, but it’s just SO WEIRD. Oh, 70s!
Also, boring? Not at all. For coming in at just under 2 hours, this thing moves at a pretty quick pace and there’s enough action filling it that I was entertained the whole time. Plus, everyone is acting the HELL out of this movie! Brolin’s brooding and increasing mental deterioration are top-notch, Kidder is great as the frustrated mom, and Rod Steiger’s religion-fueled tantrums are nothing less than incredible. Special shout-out to Helen Shaver as the hippy-dippy wife of George’s business partner who is literally the only person to figure out the house is haunted.
The ending is kind of weird in that it builds to this insane climax, something crazy happens — and then, it just kind of, ends. Fade out, screen text explaining that the Lutzes never returned to the house and just left all their stuff there. Also, zero mentions of Ed & Lorraine Warren, although to be fair they weren’t trendy enough to mention until James Wan did it in 2013. Also we need to talk about how irritating it is that neither one of the men listened to their wives about what was happening until it was TOO LATE, including shouting at them to “shut the hell up,” and physically abusing them. Yuck.
Special F/X report: The mass of flies scene that I remembered is still super icky, and the blood dripping walls were more intense than I remembered, including a flood of sticky blood on the stairs. The shootings at the beginning aren’t super gory, but they’re still framed in a way that is really disturbing and impactful. I also enjoyed that you don’t actually see “Jody” or any other ghosts, ever. Just hints like self-rocking chairs and creepy voices telling the Lutzes to “Get out!” At the end, there’s a pretty amazing scene where Brolin falls through the floor into a lake of blood (so black it mostly just looks like tar, but still, it’s rad).
The Amityville Horror 2005
Directed by: Andrew Douglas
Starring: Melissa George as Kathy Lutz, Ryan Reynolds as George Lutz, and Philip Baker Hall as Father Calloway — plus! Chloë Grace Moretz as little Chelsea.
IMDb description: Newlyweds are terrorized by demonic forces after moving into a large house that was the site of a grisly mass murder a year before. (based on a true story!)
WHAT I REMEMBERED:
Pretty much just this:
NOW THAT I’VE REWATCHED IT: OH right, more things are coming back to me besides Reynold’s abs. Melissa George is carrying on the super sexy vibe of Kidder in the first one, in fact, I think there’s even a scene where she’s wearing a very similar gauzy white top. But, Reynolds, he … just doesn’t have the acting chops to pull off George’s descent into crazyland. Dear Ryan, I heart you, and you’re PERFECT for Deadpool, but this? This is beyond your capability my friend. For example, the way he says “What’s the matter with you people? WACKO family!” to his wife & stepdaughter as they’re crying with their arms around each other is just … bad. I spent a lot of time just laughing at his performance.
That said, Melissa George, Chloë Grace, and OF COURSE Philip Baker Hall are pretty amazing, given the script they had to work with. Baker Hall is way more restrained than Steiger was, but it still works for the character.
Honestly, though – THIS was the version I was bored with. Even though there was an almost constant barrage of horror happenings and they added some juicy backstory to why everyone who lives in the house gets possessed, I was just … yawning a lot and found my mind drifting away from the action.
Uh, also we need to talk about that super-sexed up BABYSITTER. The way Ryan Reynolds smirks at is preteen son, “You sure you don’t want a babysitter?” is just super gross. Side note: I did enjoy the contrast between this babysitter & headgear good-girl babysitter in the original.
The scene in which George tries to kill Kathy in this one is awful, but I was at least grateful he didn’t punch her in the face like in the first movie. But also, that ending? IS TERRIBLE. “Nobody’s dying today!” followed by a trippy montage of blood splatter + sped-up twitching ghosts + a dramatic music swell. Oh, you’re “rewinding time” now?!! F*ck off, you guys. Just f*ck right off.
Just in case you’re curious, though: 26 minutes in is the first shirtless RR scene. 😉
Special F/X report: JUMP SCARES galore, but none of them are really any good. Okay, maybe the flies EXPLODING out of the heater vent into PBH’s face was pretty good. There’s also a ton of CGI here, and while I appreciate the scene where the little dead girl grabs the babysitter’s finger and jams it directly into her gunshot head wound — for the most part, it was overly cheesy and wayyyyyyy too obvious, and way too much! I don’t need to see every single ghost over and over; I’d like them to be a bit more hidden and surprise me.
Related stuff to check out:
My Amityville Horror
Documentary featuring the real Daniel Lutz, which, whether you believe the house was actually haunted or not, is a fascinating study of a man who’s been through some rough times.