List of films based on the Amityville haunting

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On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six members of his family at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, on the south shore of Long Island, New York. He was convicted of second-degree murder in November 1975. In December 1975, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into the house. After 28 days, the Lutzes left the house, claiming to have been terrorized by paranormal phenomena while living there. These events served as the historical basis for Jay Anson's 1977 novel The Amityville Horror, which was followed by a number of sequels and was adapted into a film of the same name in 1979. Since then, many films have been produced that draw explicitly, to a greater or lesser extent, from these historical and literary sources. As Amityville is a real town and the stories of DeFeo and the Lutzes are historical, there can be no proprietary relationship to the underlying story elements associated with the Amityville haunting. As a result of this, there has been no restriction on the exploitation of the story by film producers, which is the reason that most of these films share no continuity, were produced by different companies, and tell widely varying stories.

The Amityville Horror, released in the summer of 1979, was a major box office success, and went on to become one of the most commercially successful independent films of all time.[1] A series of sequels would be released throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s through various distributors; some of the films received theatrical distribution, while others were direct-to-video releases. In 2005, a re-imagining of the first film was released.

Beginning in 2011, there was a resurgence of low-budget direct-to-video independent films based on or loosely inspired by the Amityville events.

In 2017, The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films distributed the first major theatrical Amityville film since the 2005 re-imagining, Amityville: The Awakening, which was filmed in 2014. It was released theatrically in Ukraine on July 27, 2017, and in the United States on October 28, 2017.[2]

Films[edit]

Film Release date Type Director Writer Notes
The Amityville Horror July 27, 1979 Theatrical Stuart Rosenberg Sandor Stern
Amityville II: The Possession September 24, 1982 Theatrical Damiano Damiani Tommy Lee Wallace

Dardano Sacchetti (uncredited)

Amityville 3-D November 18, 1983 Theatrical, 3D Richard Fleischer William Wales aka Amityville III: The Demon
Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes May 12, 1989 TV film Sandor Stern aka Amityville Horror: The Evil Escapes
The Amityville Curse May 7, 1990 Direct-to-video Tom Berry Michael Krueger, Doug Olson, and Norvell Rose
Amityville 1992: It's About Time July 16, 1992 Direct-to-video Tony Randel Christopher DeFaria and Antonio Toro aka Amityville: It's About Time
Amityville: A New Generation September 29, 1993 Direct-to-video John Murlowski
Amityville Dollhouse October 2, 1996 Direct-to-video Steve White Joshua Michael Stern
The Amityville Horror April 14, 2005 Theatrical Andrew Douglas Scott Kosar
Amityville: The Awakening October 28, 2017 Limited theatrical release Franck Khalfoun

Related films[edit]

Film Release date Type Director Writer Notes
The Amityville Haunting December 13, 2011 Direct-to-video Geoff Meed
The Amityville Asylum June 3, 2013 Direct-to-video Andrew Jones
Amityville Death House February 24, 2015 Direct-to-video Mark Polonia John Oak Dalton
The Amityville Playhouse April 13, 2015 Limited theatrical release John R. Walker John R. Walker and Steve Hardy aka The Amityville Theater
Amityville: Vanishing Point April 1, 2016 Direct-to-video Dylan Greenberg Dylan Greenberg Selena Mars and Jurgen Azazel Munster
The Amityville Legacy June 7, 2016 Direct-to-video Dustin Ferguson and Michael Johnson
The Amityville Terror August 2, 2016 Direct-to-video Michael Angelo
Amityville: No Escape August 5, 2016 Direct-to-video Henrique Couto
Amityville Exorcism January 3, 2017 Direct-to-video Mark Polonia Billy D'Amato
Amityville Prison September 15, 2017 Limited theatrical release Brian Cavallaro aka Against the Night
The Amityville Murders 2018 Daniel Farrands aka A Haunting on Long Island: The Amityville Murders

Overview[edit]

The first film to be inspired by the story of the Amityville haunting, The Amityville Horror (1979) chronicles the events of Jay Anson's novel, in which the Lutz family finds their new home in Amityville, New York, to be haunted; the house had been the site of a mass murder by Ronald DeFeo Jr. in 1974. The following film in the series Amityville II: The Possession, is a prequel based on the book Murder in Amityville by Hans Holzer, and documents the purported supernatural events in the home that led DeFeo to murder his family. The third installment, Amityville 3-D is set after the events of the first film, and was released in 3D.[3]

In 1989, the fourth installment, Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes, was released as a made-for-television film, and documents hauntings stemming from a floor lamp that was in the home at the time of the DeFeo murders. The Amityville Curse, released in 1990, follows a group of teenagers who spend the night in a former rectory in Amityville where a priest committed suicide; this installment was set entirely in a different house.[4] Amityville: It's About Time, released in 1992, focuses on a haunted clock that a family from Los Angeles, California takes into their home from an estate sale in New York.[3] The fifth film in the series, Amityville: A New Generation, also utilizes a haunted object as a main component of its storyline: It follows a man who purchases a mirror possessed by the spirit of his father, who also murdered his family in the Amityville house with a shotgun, not dissimilar to DeFeo.[3] Amityville Dollhouse (1996) follows a family haunted by spirits unleashed from a doll house replica of the Amityville home.

In 2005, a remake of the 1979 original film was released theatrically. In 2017, Amityville: The Awakening was a limited release, a family moves into the home with an ill son only to find themselves tormented by ghosts who seek to possess the son's body.

Further films would follow, each released direct-to-video or with limited theatrical releases: The Amityville Haunting (2011; an ancillary found footage film that presents supposed home movies that corroborate the family's haunting); The Amityville Asylum (2013; set in Amityville at a psychiatric hospital haunted by ghosts); Amityville Death House (2015; featured yet another explanation for the hauntings); Amityville Playhouse (2016; focuses on a haunted theater in Amityville); Amityville: Vanishing Point (2016; focused on a haunted boarding house in Amityville); The Amityville Legacy (2016; features a haunted toy monkey from the original house), The Amityville Terror (2016; a family moves to Amityville and are tormented both by an evil spirit and the townsfolk who want to keep them trapped there); Amityville: No Escape (2016; college students encounter evil in the forest around Amityville); Amityville Exorcism (2017; evil spirits possess the daughter of a family that moves to Amityville); and The Amityville Murders (2017; a retelling of the original DeFeo murders).

Continuity between films[edit]

None of the films are direct sequels to each other, and parts I, II, and IV are the only films based on books from the Amityville book series and establish references with each other.[a] Amityville II is a prequel to the original 1979 film, which tells the story of the DeFeo family's mass murder (though they are named the Montelli family in the film). Amityville 3-D is a sequel to the first film based on the accounts of Stephen Kaplan (renamed John Baxter for the film) who was trying to prove that the Lutz family's story was a hoax. Due to legal disputes with the actual Lutz family the events of the first film could not be directly referenced including the Lutz family themselves who were never referenced by name. The film, oddly, also refers to the murders that happened in Amityville II as the DeFeo murders despite the family having been renamed Montelli.

Of the later films, Amityville: The Awakening (2017) is explicitly a different continuity from all previous films, which are portrayed as existing in-universe: the characters watch and discuss the 1979 film The Amityville Horror, and a character brings DVDs of the sequels and remake to the protagonist's house.

Release[edit]

Producers and distributors[edit]

The films have at various times been owned by several different production and distribution companies internationally and in the United States. American International Pictures produced and released the original film, before Orion Pictures bought the rights to the film, as well as II and 3-D. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) now owns films one through 3-D, and released them in a box set in 2005. While 4 was a TV film broadcast on NBC, it has been released multiple times by independent distribution companies in recent years (one of which was Vidmark, who also released Curse; Vidmark is now owned by Lionsgate). FremantleMedia North America owns distribution rights to Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes, It's About Time and A New Generation.

Box office[edit]

Film Release date Budget Total Gross Ref.
The Amityville Horror July 27, 1979 $4,700,000 $86,432,000 [5][6]
Amityville II: The Possession September 24, 1982 $5,000,000 $12,534,817 [7]
Amityville 3-D November 18, 1983 $6,000,000 $6,333,135 [8]
The Amityville Horror April 14, 2005 $19,000,000 $108,047,131 [9]
Amityville: The Awakening October 28, 2017 N/A $7,236,992 [10]

Critical reception[edit]

Film Rating
Rotten Tomatoes[11] Metacritic[12] IMDb[13]
The Amityville Horror 29% 32 6.2
Amityville II: The Possession 5% N/A 5.4
Amityville 3-D 5% N/A 4
Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes N/A N/A 4.3
The Amityville Curse 17% N/A 3
Amityville: It's About Time 13% N/A 4.4
Amityville: A New Generation N/A N/A 3.7
Amityville: Dollhouse N/A N/A 4.1
The Amityville Horror (2005) 24% 33 6.0
Amityville: The Awakening 28% 42 4.8

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Amityville Horror (1979) is based on the 1977 Jay Anson novel, while Amityville II: The Possession is based on Murder in Amityville by Hans Holzer. Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes is also based on a novel by John G. Jones.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Miller, John M. "The Amityville Horror". Turner Classic Movies. In the Know. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  2. ^ Aronson, Alex. "'Amityville: The Awakening' Sees More Delays; The Internet Freaks Out". Movie Pilot. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Young, R.G., ed. (2000). The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film: Ali Baba to Zombies. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-557-83269-6.
  4. ^ "Canuxploitation Review: The Amityville Curse". Canuxploitation. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  5. ^ Arkoff & Turbo 1992, p. 228.
  6. ^ Smith 2009, p. 13.
  7. ^ "Amityville II: The Possession". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  8. ^ "Amityville 3-D". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  9. ^ "The Amityville Horror (2005)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  10. ^ "Amityville: The Awakening". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  11. ^ Rotten Tomatoes:
  12. ^ Metacritic:
  13. ^ IMDb:

Works cited[edit]

  • Arkoff, Samuel Z.; Turbo, Richard (1992). Flying Through Hollywood By the Seat of My Pants. Birch Lane Press. ISBN 978-1-559-72107-3.
  • Smith, Gary A. (2009). The American International Pictures Video Guide. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-43309-4.