Friday, October 23, 2015

The Amityville Horror (1979) ***

A box office hit in 1979, The Amityville Horror told a traditional haunted house tale refashioned for President Carter's "crisis of confidence" America.  Purportedly based on a true story as told in Jay Anson's bestseller of the same name, the film plays fast and loose with the facts.  In late 1975, the Lutz family moved into 112 Ocean Avenue and abruptly left 28 days later (a house where terrifying murders did take place).  Starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder, and Rod Steiger, Amityville Horror verges on outright camp, making it oddly compelling. Whether the story's factual or not, the financial anxiety of moving into a new house works as an appropriate subtext.  Steiger as the Priest is rather ridiculous, a parody of all the heroic clergymen of the 70s.  There's a rickety old fashioned style to The Amityville Horror, evoking a pleasant sense of nostalgia.

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