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Why ‘Amityville II: The Possession’ is Superior to ‘The Amityville Horror’

Why ‘Amityville II: The Possession’ is Superior to ‘The Amityville Horror’

Of all the horror franchises in existence, The Amityville Horror series might be the strangest, with very loose connections between them. Spanning 18 films, most direct-to-video, that spawned from the bizarre case of the DeFeo family in Amityville, New York in 1974, and subsequent book based on the site of the murders. Released in July of 1979, The Amityville Horror became a huge hit for the indie studio that produced it, becoming the second-highest grossing film of the year. Naturally, the critics hated it, but it didn’t matter. The commercial success meant an inevitable sequel.  Unsurprisingly, that sequel shifted into prequel territory by exploring the DeFeo murders prior to the arrival of the Lutz family. Despite its predecessor’s massive success, Amityville II: The Possession fared a much-diminished return at the box office upon release on September 24, 1982, reaching nowhere near the same level of success. I think that speaks more to the major flaws of The Amityville Horror, though, than the far superior and much more entertaining sequel.

Amityville 2 The Possession

The doomed Montelli family

The Amityville Horror may only clock in at 15 minutes longer in run time than Amityville II: The Possession, but boy does it feel much longer. Revisiting the original film, it’s almost stunning just how slow the pacing drags. Despite a high caliber cast for its time, James Brolin’s George Lutz starts out as a dick to begin with, so you never really root for him from the start. Not that the Montelli family (fictional adaptations of the DeFeo family) were winning personalities, either, but between Halloween III: Season of the Witch screenwriter Tommy Lee Wallace’s screenplay, and director Damiano Damiani’s desire to make the sequel as shocking as possible, their likability isn’t as important for viewer enjoyment.

It also helps that the Montelli family has one of the weirdest family dynamics on screen. The patriarch, Anthony, is a stereotypical abusive type, gearing most of his ire toward eldest son Sonny. Dolores is the submissive, yet supportive mother who tries to keep her four children in line and away from their father’s wrath. So far, normal enough, right? Well, eldest daughter Patricia (Diane Franklin, who just recently filmed a stealth Amityville sequel) is very, very smitten with her older brother. To the point where one wonders if Sonny would have had to be possessed at all to push their sibling relationship into incestuous territory. Damiani got a little too overzealous with this particular plot point, as he had to cut more graphic sex scenes between the siblings when it didn’t go over well with test audiences. Neither did the scene in which papa Anthony anally rapes Dolores. Though these icky scenes were removed, the final cut is still one of the most insane sequels in horror history.

Amityville 2 The Possession

While the first act shares a lot of similar haunted house tropes with its predecessor, what really sets Amityville II above the rest is the weird detour its takes in the final act. Subverting the expectation that the story ends with Sonny killing his family to mirror the DeFeo case, that happens at the end of the second act. Instead, the climax borrows from The Exorcist, spinning into a full-blown exorcism sequence with fantastic practical effects. Though, no exorcism film I’ve ever watched had the possessed break down into a monster as it did here. Even the final scene is lifted, leaving the door open for a sequel. It may not be original, but it’s a far more exciting ending than the abrupt fleeing at the end of the first film.

Damiani forgoes any authentic connection to the actual DeFeo case and opts for a very loose fictional retelling more suitable for grindhouse theaters. That’s not a complaint, but a compliment. Continuity and originality be damned, Amityville II: The Possession is so off the rails crazy that it’s fun. Bolstered by great effects and a higher budget, this sequel is not only better than the first film, but it’s the best in the series. Though this franchise refuses to let go, filming secret sequels and reboots that have yet to see release, it’s hard to imagine any will ever top the strange story of the Montelli family, even 35 years later.

Amityville 2 The Possession



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COMMENTS

32 Comments
  • I bought a VHS combo pack of the first two films and was terribly underwhelmed by the original (minus the hilarious Nun puking moment). I was wholly unprepared for the awesomeness of The Posession that followed.

    • Same here. I think the original had garnered such a reputation as a classic when I first saw it years ago, that I was very unimpressed when first watching it.

  • J Jett

    Meagan, i’m confused when you said….

    “… Amityville II: The Possession fared a much-diminished return at the box office upon release on September 24, 1982, reaching nowhere near the same level of success. I think that speaks more to the major flaws of The Amityville Horror, though, than the far superior and much more entertaining sequel”.

    wouldn’t part 2’s not that great box office have ONLY (or for the most part) be the fault of part 2 and not the original film? i think people saw the trailers for part 2 (when it was originally released) and most/many of them thought it looked cheesy/bad/etc., so that’s on part 2’s creators/makers.
    personally i love the original and i don’t find it boring at all.

    you also say with part 2, it’s not a big deal if the characters are likable or not (which makes no sense, you would want the protags to be at least somewhat likable) but yet with part 1 it’s apparently a BIG deal that Brolin’s George Lutz was a dick. why is it fine for part 2 but not for part 1.
    part 2 does have some good things in it (some good atmosphere, etc.) but it’s also incredibly cheesy in many parts. i’m not trashing your opinion. we all like different things but IMO part 1 was excellent and part 2 was (for the most part) decent-ish. i have never watched any of the other AMITYVILLE films so i can’t comment on them. 🙂

    • Simon Allen

      And so speaks a BIG fan of part 1 !…..you go JJ 🙂 .

      • J Jett

        it’s lonely here! LOL.

  • Saturn

    Although I really enjoy the original Amityville Horror I agree that The Possession is easily the best of the entire franchise. But, to be honest, there really isn’t that great amount of competition.
    It’s the best movie in a mostly shite series of movies (be they the official sequels, or the others that have followed) – but thankfully it’s not only the best of the bunch it’s a fantastic little horror movie in it’s own right. I’d highly recommend it to fans of “possession” movies, as it’s one of the highlights of that particular genre.

  • Munchie

    Part 3 kicks the shit out of all the sequels, though 2 is pretty close.

    • NoGutzNoGory

      Is that the one with some kind of hole in the floor?

      • Munchie

        Aren’t they all?

      • Simon Allen

        Yes . And also….Meg Ryan !!!!

        • J Jett

          Meg Ryan is the hole in the floor? 🙂

          • CeCe Says Ugonlearntaday

            ROFLMMFAO GOOD ONE!!

          • Simon Allen

            Please ….don’t encourage JJ ! 🙂 .

          • Simon Allen

            You know she doesn’t play the hole (bit of a stretch for her) !!!
            And just for that you deserve to be lonely ….LMAO !

  • The chicken man

    It’s just… The incest.

    • J Jett

      but GAME OF THRONES has helped make incest sexy/hot! LOL. 🙂

  • Colin Christian

    I saw this on its release,it was damn creepy,the wandering camera around the house was very effective,and the acting was pretty good too,very underrated movie.

  • DirkShadows

    This is the one Amityville film that still creeps me out today. Probably because I was 9 when I first saw it and haunted by the eerie “la la la” children’s choir followed by gut wrenching creaking sounds as dusk descended over those infamous windows. The guttural moan as the demon tossed a sheet over the crucifix didn’t help either!

    • “The guttural moan as the demon tossed a sheet over the crucifix didn’t help either!”

      That’s one scene I always remembered, so simple but soooo effective. Like the demon couldn’t bear to see it. Another scene that still makes the hair stand up is when Mrs Montelli is in the basement and the demon brushes past her. Her reaction is perfect, and it really makes for a chilling moment.

  • bluepurplechips

    Underrated movie. I also liked this one better than the original film.

  • Simon Allen

    This is such a great movie and far better than any of the others in the franchise .
    It’s genuinely horrific and scary and it’s directed with real style and panache by Damiani ….there is one particular shot that is so amazing where the camera goes over Sonny’s head and upside down ….I’ve never forgotten it !!
    I think the fact that everyone in it is pretty unpleasant adds a touch of realness to the otherwise fantastical story .
    And there are some really great practical effect here !!
    I have such great memories of seeing it for the first time when it came out (thinking it was going to be a total crapfest ) and being pretty blown away .

  • Pf Mahan

    Part 2 is the best, I also enjoyed the 2005 version

  • Nicolas Caiveau

    I agree, I like it much more than the boring first episode.

  • EvilResident

    This movie is one of the first horror movies I ever watched. You can see major influences/ripoff moments from tons of movies, mostly Evil Dead and the Exorcist, but since I had never seen either of those, this movie straight up traumatized me. The massacre scene STILL is very very effective. The way it’s lit, the makeup, the music, the atmosphere… I consider it a masterpiece even if it is a knockoff at some points.

    • TheMostInterestingManintheMidw

      Didn’t Evil Dead come out the same year though?

      • TheMostInterestingManintheMidw

        Ahh 1981. I forgot

      • EvilResident

        Amityville 2 was 82 and Evil Dead was 81. It’s possible that they both coincidentally have some of the exact same bizarre camera work, but it seems unlikely. I hadn’t realized they were so close together.

  • CeCe Says Ugonlearntaday

    I remember this being the first horror film my dad bought home for our new VHS player. And let me tell you I was scared but I loved horror movies at a young age. I was thrilled to watch it as an adult. Soooo very underrated. It was kept the same just remade. Add in some of those cut scene? SERIOUS KILLER MOVIE!!!

  • Freida Peeple

    Has there ever been an unrated director’s cut of “Amityville II The Possession” ?

  • HalesTales

    Yes! I’m so happy to see everyone talking about Amityville II here. I’ve been of the opinion for years that it was superior and a great installment in the possession genre. This movie scared (still kinda does) the pants off of me. Sonny’s possessed bony face and voice are such nightmare fuel.

  • Brad Tyler

    Agreed! It still scares the crap out of me. It was one of the first horrors I saw and I remember being absolutely terrified as a kid. I wish they’d hurry up and release this new one, it looks pretty decent.

  • Jaguar67

    I always thought this one was underrated. Despite the gaffs (walkmans were not around in 1974) and the Exorcist clone it becomes at the end, the movie is truly unnerving.

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