Everybody knows about the legend of the Amityville House at 112 Ocean Avenue in Long Island, New York. A family moves into the house and the older son murders them all in their sleep. When he’s apprehended, he tells the authorities a voice told him to do it. Another family moves in a year later and they’re plagued with paranormal incidences. Things get so bad, they abandon the house and never return.
Whether or not you believe the stories are true, the Amityville films do provide good times for horror fans. Some want to revisit their childhood fears. Others want the opportunity to share the experience with their children for the first time and scare them to death.
Upon watching the first two films again for the first time in over a decade, I realized a couple things. The Amityville Horror isn’t as hokey as I remembered it. The last time I watched it, I was disappointed by how tame it was. I found it to be a satisfying watch now. Maybe I’ve come to appreciate its subtleness in the wake of so many graphic gore fests and torture-porn films.
Amityville II: The Possession is the best of the first three films. It really taps into a person’s fear of losing control and the supernatural. The whole story just feels more fleshed out than the first.
Amityville 3-D was truly cashing in on what producers felt could be a franchise by the time it was released. Not only were they attempting to capitalize on the first two films, but they jumped on the 3-D bandwagon being exploited at the time by other horror series like Friday the 13th, Jaws, and others. Filmmakers were so desperate to pull more people in that the movie is even rated PG. Here’s the perfect example of a movie where barely anything exciting happens except objects poke out of the screen at you.
Religious folks won’t be satisfied with The Amityville Horror Trilogy if they’re easily offended and take things too seriously. Good very rarely wins over evil in these films. Good usually runs at the last second screaming out of evil’s house. Sadly, the powers of the priest never seem able to triumph over the demonic forces they come up against.
Both “The Amityville Horror” and “Amityville II: The Possession” are rated R. The original movie includes scary images, violence, language, and adult situations. The second one contains all of the above plus one scene of nudity. There are also some scenes of incest which will be objectionable to many viewers.
The Blu-ray transfers of the film look and sound good. They all manage to maintain their 1970s and 1980s “real” film flavors but look cleaner and clearer. The Amityville Horror and Amityville 3-D are presented in 5.1 surround sound while Amityville II: The Possession is only in DTS Master Audio Mono for some reason. It’s still safe to say these Blu-ray versions are most likely the best these movies ever sounded.
As usual, Scream Factory provides great special features for each disc. The Amityville Horror includes audio commentary by Dr. Hans Holzer, Ph. D in Parapsychology. It also contains a new documentary entitled “For God’s Sake, Get Out!” that features interviews with actors James Brolin and Margot Kidder. A theatrical trailer and radio spots can be found as well.
Amityville II: The Possession contains the most special features. There’s audio commentary provided by author Alexandra Holzer (Growing Up Haunted-A Ghostly Memoir). There are interviews with Director Damiano Damiani and actors Andrew Prine, Diane Franklin, and Rutanya Alda. A theatrical trailer is included as well.
Amityville 3-D features a theatrical trailer and the 2-D and 3-D versions of the film. It also contains an interview with actor Candy Clark. I guess you could count early appearances by Meg Ryan and Lori Loughlin as special features, too.
The Amityville Horror Trilogy box set has Scream Factory and Shout! Factory doing what they do best again. They’re reviving and breathing life into forgotten cinema gems of the horror genre. Not everybody is going to like all the films in this collection, but there are definitely enough enthusiasts out there to merit giving these classics the high-definition treatment they deserve.
The Amityville Horror Trilogy box set is available now on Blu-ray.