|James Brolin as George Lutz|
|Margot Kidder as Kathleen Lutz|
|Rod Steiger as Father Delaney|
|Don Stroud as Father Bolen|
|The Amityville house lays out the unwelcome mat for Kathy's Aunt Helena (Irene Dailey)|
Chiefly propelled by a hope for a repeat of the jumped-out-of-my-seat thrills of Alien, plus a desire to see what actress Margot Kidder had chosen for her follow-up vehicle to her star-making turn as Lois Lane in the blockbuster Christmas 1978 release Superman: The Movie (still playing in second run theaters at the time); I stood in a long line on Hollywood Blvd on Friday, July 27th, to catch The Amityville Horror on opening night. The house was packed and the theater was abuzz with the kind of amped-up excitement only an R-rating, “Based on a True Story”-hype, and saturation marketing can produce (“For God’s Sake, Get Out!” screamed posters from billboards and bus shelters all over town).
|This House Pays For Itself|
Kathy's brother (Marc Vahanian) preps for his wedding as the house preps for a little self-help
|While George obsessively continues to chop logs for the fire,|
Kathy laments the sudden wood shortage in their bedroom
...if you get my cruder meaning.
Because a haunted house/possession story is nothing without religious subtext, Kathy is Catholic. Or, more precisely, Hollywood Catholic. Which means she doesn’t actually go to church or display any discernible traits of devoutness, but she does paint Virgin Mary figurines, hang ginormous crucifixes all over the house, has an actual nun in her immediate family, and is given to grocery shopping in a fetish Catholic School Girl uniform.
|Fathers Delaney and Bowen, badly in need of a St. Christopher medal|
|While Kathy & George stare aghast at the front door that's been mysteriously blown off its hinges,|
viewers get to stare at James Brolin's cobblers
|Creepy Amy (Natasha Ryan) consults with Jody, her invisible friend|
The overall effect is of The Amityville Horror being something of a goulash horror creation. Everything but the kitchen sink (or bile-spilling toilet) seems to have been thrown into this mechanical mix of sure-fire horror standbys. Nothing wrong with that, but the film is so overcrowded with disparate ideas that it ends up with a ton of loose threads and setups introduced that fail to pay off. Happily, the whole undertaking manages to be repetitious without ever really being boring, so the film ends up as being inoffensively watchable as one of those Creature Features horror programmers aired on TV when I was a kid.
|Rod Steiger, praying for an Oscar nomination|