Top 10: Amityville Horror Moments
by, 01-21-2012 at 09:13 PM (2574 Views)
Somehow, there's roughly 58 new Amityville movies rumored or scheduled to be released over the next few years, all at varying degrees of legitimacy. I have no idea what sparked new interest in horror's most recognizable house, probably an executive throwing a dart at a billboard covered in franchise names to exploit, but they're coming.
Now, in my long horror life, I wasn't too familiar with the series growing up. It's one of the few established genre series that didn't cross my path too often. I watched most of the original when I was really young and my parents caught it on tv. I most vividly remembered the window slamming down on the kid's hand and the lady screaming about a "passageway to hell" or something like that. Then, years later, I caught the third movie on TBS one night at 2:00 in the morning, back when they used to show horror movies on cable all night long. And then I had seen the remake from a few years ago and wasn't particularly impressed.
With all this hoopla about the upcoming Amityville projects and a lack of guidance over what to watch next in my time of unemployment, I figured I'd pull out all of the movies and finally dig into them, working my way through one of the remaining horror legacies I hadn't yet tackled, including that in-name-only Canadian cash-in that has the otherwise great Kim Coates garbling around like a momo which I had to stream off of Hulu since nobody's bothered to put it on a disc here in the States. What I found is that the original two films are wonderfully effective horror films that hold up really well today, other than the unfortunate decision to ripoff The Exorcist for the last twenty minutes in the second one. The third is your average 80's horror movie, while the rest of the series alternates between boredom and ridiculously stupid moments before culminating in the lifeless remake. I didn't get to check out The Asylum's recent unofficial entry, but I didn't try very hard.
After all that, I figured I'd put together this little list of the most memorable moments from the films, good or bad, from one of horror's most oddball series. I hope you enjoy.
10. Van Wilder Chops Wood - Remake
While the majority of the remake is a pale imitation of the original, this one scene stands out as being humorous. Throughout the movie, it earnestly tries to sell us on Ryan Reynolds being intimidating, but to no avail. He's just too friendly of a guy, like a fat-faced happy chipmunk. At the most, he looks like he's got sour stomach. But this one scene, he almost gets there. He orders his big-mouthed, flippant new stepson to stack the logs up in order for him to cut the firewood. As he gets more aggressive, he tells the boy to keep his hands there to hold the wood as he brings the axe slamming down, scaring the shit out of the kid. Reynolds leans down to deliver a little smirk to the kid, feeling the same as us after having to sit through the boy's angst for almost an hour now.
9. A Painted Death - A New Generation
The only one of the sequels in the "haunted yard sale items" cycle I thought was decent, this kill carries a nice visual touch to it. This sequel deals with a crew of "artsy" types, including the painter Suki, who creates large canvasses depicting demons and devils that actually aren't bad, kind of like Clive Barker's artwork. Soon, the haunted mirror (yep) brings these paintings to life, jumping up and down before falling all around Suki, creating a labyrinth of macabre art to crawl through. The artwork, sprung from her mind, now haunts her as she tries to make her way to safety, only to meet her demise in the end. In a direct to video, low rent horror quickie, it was a surprising artistic touch to a film that otherwise could have been very workman-like.
8. Shout at the Devil - Dollhouse
By this point in the movie, I had no idea what was going on anymore. So when our heroes, I think they were our heroes anyways, jump through the fireplace rather than get the fuck out of the haunted house and land in some demonic dollhouse version of reality (you see what I mean?), I just about lost it when I saw the Troll 2-style demons lounging around the attic like it's Board Game Day. These things look like a stiff breeze would knock them over and snap their balsa wood limbs so I don't know how scared I was supposed to be. The characters in the film look like they're going to shit their pants, but not from laughter like I was. Then the hippie guy pulls out some mystical diamond dust or something which creates a light prism of protection before mildly bellowing a string of what sounds like Native American swear words, punctuated by "You bastards!" Wowsers.
7. Puddle of Andy - It's About Time
This whole goddamn movie is bizarre. First of all, California's about as far as you can get from Amityville while still staying in the country, so right away you know this one's going to be off from the previous films. After about an hour's worth of unexplainable and slightly uncomfortable scenes, we get this. Andy's looking to score with Megan Ward who woke up one day and decided to be a hooker. Just when he thinks he's getting to home base, she decides to play Godzilla on her dad's model train set, motioning him to join her. As he tries, he steps into a puddle of black goo which slowly devours him, turning into a puddle of flesh and latex. Last words upon this earth? "Help me, you bitch!"
6. Exorcist Raid - Part 4
I don't know if the town just got sick of this bullshit going on or what, but the church supplies a crack team of commando exorcists to lay siege upon the infamous house, slathering holy water and prayers in every nook and cranny. The director, needing to internalize the inner struggle of demonic houses everywhere, spared every expense in rolling out every haunted house cliche while this is going on. Not a single door nor cabinet was idle, slamming constantly like they were auditioning for that George Harrison music video. During the final moments, the house decides that its best chances for escape is to bury its monumental evil into the vessel of...a lamp. Which will then be sold to an old lady at a yard sale. Oh boy.
5. Crispy Critter - Part 3D: The Demon
Only in the 80s could we see such a fairly grisly death in a PG movie, one that comes across as a predecessor of the Final Destination series. Melanie, fresh in her assertion that the house is indeed haunted, loses control of her car, slamming into the back of a parked truck. A steel rod comes loose and slides forward, narrowly spearing her midsection. As she breathes a sigh of relief, the fucking car goes up in flames, burning her alive as she's trapped inside. A passer by comes along and checks the car, hoping to help. Opening the door, we see Melanie's charred and roasted corpse, her hands still in the 2 and 10 positions. Since this is a 3D movie, we get a final shot of the corpse lurching towards the camera, smoking hands at the ready.
4. Father Flies - Amityville Horror
A scene so famous, they recreated it to far less degrees in about half the sequels. Rod Steiger arrives to bless the house for the newly arrived Lutzs but finds he has just missed them. Deciding to continue with his task, he finds himself upstairs, trapped as houseflies overwhelm him. He tries to find solace within his faith while the insects attack him, no CGI either, when the door opens and we hear that voice: "Get ouuut." If you think a haunted house speaking would be corny, this scene exists to prove you wrong. An effective scene, and one that sets the priest up as the one who's most scarred by the evil in the house, even more so than the Lutzs before the film ends.
3. Mongoloid Pedo Chainsaw Massacre - Part 4
First off, the kid in this movie looks like a fucking psycho from frame one. His "not quite right" stare in his eyes, the blubbery cheeks, the wavy near-mullet; I don't know what it is but this kid scares the shit out of me. Now, you place this deranged bastard in a basement with a cat and an apparent fascination with chainsaws, and you get a scene of pure lunacy. This dipshit, and at first I thought he was going to put the cat in the vise, finds a chainsaw and starts making the "You sure got a pretty mouth" noises, pretending to be a lumberjack or some such shit, when the thing turns on. It goes fucking haywire, shredding all of Grandma's preserves and anything else unfortunate enough to be placed on a shelf within the saw's radius of attack, all the while this kid never thinks to just fucking let go of it. He almost saws the housekeeper's head off before causing his grandmother to trip and fall, hitting every single stair on the way down. Then the housekeeper grabs a steel rod and battles the chainsaw like she's fucking Connor MacLeod, knocking the thing out of the lunatic's hands. I couldn't breathe, I was laughing so hard at this ridiculous shit. You've got to see it for yourself. (Skip ahead to about five minutes in on the video below.)
2. Family Meltdown - Part 2: The Possession
Screw the ghosts, this family had major problems before they ever set foot in Amityville. Between the siblings flirting and the hints of an abusive father, let's face it, these guys never really started the movie out on the right foot. After some ghostly activity stirs the family up one night, it riles all of the ugliness that lurks just beneath the family's surface. Dad takes off his belt, about to beat his youngest children, when Mom sticks up for them. In return, she gets slapped, she scratches him, he beats her, and soon everyone's screaming and fighting before the oldest son picks up a loaded shotgun and holds it to his father's head. Now, I'd like to think this was just the evil in the house at work, but I have a feeling this would have happened in Manitoba or anywhere else these guys moved to. The scene is very disturbing, probably just as much so as the later massacre, and accomplishes that tone through the unbroken shot. As the camera floats along with the characters without a single edit until the skirmish is over, we feel the intensity as though we're there ourselves. The strobing lights do well to unbalance our subconscious, adding to the scene's effect . Very strong stuff and an overlooked piece of filmmaking.
1. Jody in the Dark - Amityville Horror
A great example of how less is more in a film. What seems very easy to do actually requires a subtle touch to cause fear in the viewer. Throughout the film, we know that this Jody the daughter talks to is a ghost. Most viewers are able to read between the lines long beforehand. Like in other films, i.e. The Shining, we just never expect to see anything from this imaginary friend. We see items moved around, the chair rocks and such, and that's not too big a deal. Towards the end of the film, Jody's presence pays off in one of the most skin-crawling shots in a horror film. For just a second, we see the lights of some...thing in the dark looking back at us. It's horrifying. We're probably as terrified in that fleeting second as Margot Kidder's character is. This is the single moment out of the entire series that my mind flashes back to randomly, giving me a fresh shiver down my spine every time.
Pig in the Window- Amityville Horror
Slamming Window- Amityville Horror
Family Shooting- Part 2: The Possession
Woman Slammed by Flying Door- Part 3: The Demon
Lamp Being Called a Son of a Bitch- Part 4
Lamp Thrown out the Window- Part 4
Death by Duck- It's About Time
Giant Rat Under the Bed- Dollhouse
Kim Coates Gets a Saw Blade to the Knee- Curse