Ah, the seventies. The decade that produced some of the best and most influential films in history. The decade that reinvented the horror genre in ways that can bring a man to tears. Oh, and the decade when “The Amityville Horror” came out. So, is this film worthy of its time? Does it deserve to be canonized amongst the greats? I imagine MGM would like us to think so, because here they bring us the Amityville Collection Special Edition Gift Set, just in time for “The Amityville Horror” remake, due in theatres April 15.
“The Amityville Horror” tells the alleged true story of a possessed house and how it terrorizes its new owners, George and Kathy Lutz, who move into said house one year after a family was murdered there. Kathy also brings her baggage – I mean two sons and a daughter, assumingly from a previous marriage. All three kids appear to be the exact same age, but that quirk is minor compared to the rest of the film. Anyway, odd things start happening. Father Delaney, an aggrieved priest overplayed by Rod Steiger, comes to bless the house and a voice tells him to “get out!” Though I could have sworn it said, “over act!” George becomes sick and irritable, and he develops a strange obsession with an axe. The daughter starts hanging out with an imaginary friend named Jody. You know, typical plot points which forebode the impending horror that the title promises.
But that’s all this film really is; two hours of weird occurrences and story threads that don’t go anywhere. Genuine horror works because it mines the depths of human fear and turns it into an entity so terrifying that we can’t stand to watch it, but we can’t make ourselves look away, either. The villain in “The Amityville Horror” is an intangible evil presence that never goes beyond slamming doors and shutting windows. This supposed satanic presence never manifests itself into something the characters, or the audience, should fear, and the climax is weaker than the hot sauce at Taco Bell. Nothing is resolved. We’re left with our dicks in our hands, wondering why the hell we’ve been watching all this time.
Not to say there is nothing to like about this film. We get to see Superman’s girlfriend in her undies. A kid falls down the stairs. Twice. James Brolin shows off his axe-throwing skills in one pretty cool scene. But all in all, this film is neither fun nor scary. It’s mostly boring, which makes it a prime candidate for a remake. Here we have a decent enough concept executed poorly, with plenty of room for improvement. Mediocre movies with potential should be remade, not great ones. Let’s hope Scott Kosar and co. have cooked up something tasty for us. If it makes enough money, maybe we’ll finally get Bond vs. Amityville in 2006.