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Why ‘Amityville II: The Possession’ is Still So Uncomfortable to Watch

Why ‘Amityville II: The Possession’ is Still So Uncomfortable to Watch

I remember being at my cousin’s house and one of his friends telling me about this movie he saw where this dude takes naked pictures of his sister, has sex with her, and then kills his entire family. Sounds absolutely horrific by not only early 1980’s cable standards, but pretty much now or any other time… right?

He didn’t give me a title, just that it had something to do with a haunted house. All that visualization percolated inside my mind until I finally saw Amityville II: The Possession on VHS. It didn’t disappoint. It was dark, hopeless, nihilistic, and evil. I wasn’t expecting anything like that because, in the first film, everybody just had the crap scared out of them, but they lived to tell the tale. Not only did the family in Amityville II die, but they were put through a ringer of Satanically amped up family dysfunction first.

This first sequel in the Amityville saga was penned by Tommy Lee Wallace. He’s no stranger to outlier sequels with his treatments of Halloween III, Fright Night II, not to mention this one. Amityville II beat Halloween III on the release date by about a month, back in 1982, but Druid sacrifice was way lighter fare than this.

Amityville II acted as a prequel to the first film.  It deals with the fictional Montellis standing in for the real-life DeFeo family. The sweet deal the Lutzs got on the house by the water was a by-product of the mass murder of the DeFeo family that happened there first. It was alleged that the killer, Ronnie, and his sister, Dawn, had an incestuous relationship, and she was also an accomplice in the murders of the other family members. Things were also supposedly rocky between Ronnie and his father, and their relationship was constantly in a state of varying volatility. Those elements coupled with a demon possession arc made Amityville II one of the most unforgettable horror films I’ve ever seen. Somehow, it flew under the radar of scrutiny or controversy in an age of video nasties.

The Ronnie Defeo character, Sonny Montelli, means well, but never seems to measure up to his overbearing Dad, Anthony. Burt Young plays the family patriarch, and he’s the dad that everyone walks on eggshells around. He could be fine one second and slapping everyone around the next. Shockingly, a deleted scene included him anally raping Mrs. Montelli. It’s a strange dynamic in the beginning because the sympathy is with Sonny trying to respect his father, but now being old enough to not have to take his crap anymore. While everyone else is submissive, he’s the only one that stands up to him.

[Related] Why Amityville II: The Possession is Superior to The Amityville Horror

After pointing a gun at his dad during a family altercation, a voice comes through his headphones that asks him why he didn’t shoot that pig, and “dishonor thy father pigs” gets scrawled on the wall by some demonic, unseen hand.  Every time I hear that term in regard to murder, I always go back to the Manson Family murders. I don’t know if it was intended here, but it definitely resonates. From there, Sonny hits a downward spiral and becomes the conduit for the evil that lives in the bowels of the basement.

What is by far the most controversial and hard to stomach part of Amityville II is the incestuous relationship between Sonny and his sister, Patricia. Dianne Franklin was also the virgin in The Last American Virgin that same year. I was way cooler with the douchy guy, Rick, taking her virginity instead of her brother. They loved each other with an uncomfortable closeness to start with anyway, and when Sonny becomes possessed, he seduces her in a skin-crawling faux photo shoot that always elicits an uncomfortable hover of the finger over fast forward – but it’s hard to look away because of the disbelief that it goes there. It cuts to another scene just before anything happens, but far more explicit scenes were shot that didn’t make the final cut. What’s left to the imagination is definitely effective enough.

Later, Patricia goes to confession and tells her family’s priest and says that her brother did it to hurt God. When this happens, you suddenly realize that this family has careened past the point of no return, and they’re not going to make it. Diane Franklin is ironically the best at playing virginal in every film where she loses her virginity and she exudes a tragic naïve vulnerability.  Amityville II has a giallo pedigree by proxy from Italian director, Damiano Damiani. The fearlessness of crossing social mores shows, and the only other incestuous comparison I can make to it is the creepy kid/man and his buxom mom from Burial Ground.

When Sonny murders the family, what he and Patricia did seems even dirtier when he kills her too. In a day where we are used to hearing about psychotics holding rifles and roaming through corridors looking for someone to shoot next, fortunately, I’m not jaded enough to stop finding it just as shocking as a previous viewing.

I’m a big Tommy Lee Wallace fan, and I think for all of his unfairly maligned work, he was ahead of his time. Amityville II is by far the most terrifying of all the Amityville installments, and would not find a theater friendly R rating without some cuts even today.

When the light stuff in a movie deals with demon possession, that’s pretty hardcore.



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COMMENTS

38 Comments
  • Munchie Strikes Back

    If Diane Franklin was my sister I totally would, and I wouldn’t have to be possessed by demons either. Yeah, I said it.

    • Bill Kim

      Totally beat me to the five finger death punch.

    • Micah Unice

      I’ve forwarded this comment to the authorities.

      • Saturn

        It’s fine – they’ve had Munchie on a watch list for years now!

      • Munchie Strikes Back

        Tell Detective Collins I’m sorry about his wife.

  • IWC-3PO

    Diane Franklin wasn’t the Virgin in The Last American Virgin, Lawrence Monoson (Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter) was.

    • DukeStKing

      Correct! And man, his character in The Final Chapter was annoying.

      • Creepshow

        The Final Chapter as a whole was pretty annoying. I don’t understand the boner people have for it. It was noticeably the beginning of the downward spiral for the franchise.

        • Simon Allen

          Trudy is frowning and scratching her head .

      • Saturn

        I just got off the phone to Lawrence, he said to tell you that he’s checked his computer and it says that you’re a dead fuck….……..

        😉

        • DukeStKing

          Oh God. It’s all coming back to me. I remember thinking way back then, this was the best they can come up with? It wasn’t even remotely amusing. I cringe at the thought of that character. If it wasn’t for the cool Crispin Glover dance moves, that movie would’ve been complete shite.

          • Saturn

            The Final Chapter is one of my favourites of the franchise, but it wouldn’t have been the same without Crispin Glover – he’s a stand out of the entire franchise – definitely one of the better actors to have graced the franchise.
            Glad to see you took my dead fuck joke for what it was, just a little humour. There are those out there who would have had a pissy fit.

  • Meatwad

    This movie is classic! I remember this one. Creeped me out as a kid as well.

  • bdwolfe312

    “those are mine….my panties…”

  • Forca84

    Diane Franklin will be playing the Louise Defeo in “The Amityville Horror Murders”. Burt Young (the Dad from part 2) Also has a role as Louise Defeo’s Father.

    • Saturn

      Burt Young’s going to be in it?
      Count me in with an open mind then, as he’s a fantastic, often overlooked, actor.
      I missed him in Creed. 🙁

  • RedNeoCon

    Very good horror film. Great story and special effects.

  • discochic

    easily the best entry in this somewhat sorry series – that look on his face when he is shooting his family is creepy as fuck.

    • Saturn

      I agree – it’s the best movie of a pretty poor franchise.
      But, even though most of the franchise is shitty, as a stand-alone movie I’d say that it’s pretty damn good, definitely one of the better haunted house/demonic possession movies.
      This, and the original Amityville (and in fairness, the Ryan Reynolds remake, flawed as it was, was pretty good) are really the only ones worth watching.
      The most recent one though I cannot judge, as I am still to view it – but it seems that the general consensus is that although it isn’t great, it’s still better than most of the others,

      • Simon Allen

        Agree with what you are saying totally and Awakening is abysmal .

        • Saturn

          I have Awakening (in the pile) to watch some time in the New Year, so there will probably be 5 more Amityville movies released by then to look forward to……

          When you say it’s abysmal, do you mean Amityville 3 abysmal, or Amityville Asylum abysmal? Both abysmal, yes, but to worsening degrees!

          The franchise really should be called The Abysmalville Horror….

          • Simon Allen

            Amityville 3 was fun bad .
            The Awakening was like waiting for a xmas present you’s been promised for years then opening it and finding a dead dog inside .

          • Saturn

            I heard a podcast pretty recently (I’m not sure which one, possibly a BD one, I don’t recall) where they mention that the finished product is completely different to what the director originally planned on making – the usual studio interference etc.
            So perhaps we may get a Director’s Cut at some stage which may improve upon the movie.

          • Simon Allen

            It did have the feel of something that had been chopped to pieces and glued back together .

          • Saturn

            Kinda sounds like what happened to my junk a few years back, when I had to get rid of an extremely possessive girlfriend.

          • Simon Allen

            Well i hope you learned you lesson 🙂 .

          • Saturn

            Yeah RIGHT!

  • Saturn

    Am I the only one who thought the guy who played Ronnie, when possessed, looked like an extremely Dark Side Luke Skywalker…..?

  • Adean

    I find this film campy as hell. I crack up laughing watching it. The most hilarious part is when the entire kitchen gets destroyed in seconds and the dad blames the two kids. “THINK THAT’S FUNNY?!!” He screams. As if those tiny kids could have caused the massive destruction. And later he tries to whip them with a belt after they supposedly painted “Dishonor Thy Father PIGS!” on the wall along with a weird-looking dragon thing. Again, in seconds. And again: “THINK THAT’S FUNNY?!!” I can’t help but crack up. I thought the incest stuff was way over the top. I don’t believe the daughter would have gone for it. It should have been that she was possessed too.

    • Micah Unice

      I agree. I’m baffled by all the comments lauding it as genuinely unsettling. It’s so eager it’s nearly slapstick at times.

  • Carl Griffiths

    Is the uncut version with the nasty bits you mention available? :/

    • Kevin Scott

      I don’t think so, but I would definitely like to see all the deleted scenes and unused footage. This one is the most unique sequel in the Amityville Franchise for sure.

  • Simon Allen

    I remember seeing it at the movies when it was released (yes I’m ancient ) and thinking “oh this is going to be a joke” and then being completely disturbed and terrified by the whole thing !!!
    I still love it now and it stands up to repeat viewing …..definitely a franchise best for me .

    • Kevin Scott

      Same here!

  • Rick-Taylor

    What made the movie so uncomfortable is that Diane Franklin was 20 at the time, had a beautiful body including those boobs, yet she played an underage teenage daughter. Also, later on in the film, she would say that she wasn’t ashamed of what she and her brother had done.
    I mean, I’m sure in Louisiana or Tennessee, that is everyday common, but to people elsewhere, it is pretty damn messed up.

  • Freddy’s Nightmare

    I saw this on VHS when i was about seven or eight and it fucked me up. I had to leave a light on when i went to bed for about a year. Brilliant!

  • David Nagle

    this horror sequel out shined the original best Amityville , they really should have continued this story in part 3 🙁

  • Bluegrasslass

    I’ve been saying this for years!

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