Blu-ray Review: “The Amityville Horror Collection”

The Amityville Horror Collection

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The Amityville Horror Blu-ray collection brings together for the first time three installments of this franchise that was, and still does hold a unique place in horror history, a group of films based on an alleged true story, and one that still fascinates to this day. In fact the first portion of “The Conjuring 2” (2016) covers the Amityville Hauting and haunts that film to its conclusion. There is even a remake/reboot coming to theatre next year – the second after the lackluster 2005 remake with Ryan Reynolds. Lets have a look at each of the films in the set:

“The Amityville Horror” (1979)

Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg

Featuring: James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger

Kathy Lutz: “I just wish that… all those people hadn’t died here. I mean… ugh! A guy kills his whole family. Doesn’t that bother you?”

George: “Well, sure, but… houses don’t have memories.”

The film that started it all, “The Amityville Horror” is really nothing more than another in a long line of haunted house films, a tradition still alive in many movies being made today – they are one of the classic horror tropes and you will recognize many aspects of this film’s story and scares existing in many others. Of course this one is based on an alleged true story and boasts a cast that for its time was pretty significant. Every time I have seen this film I look forward to the appearance of Rod Steiger as a priest besieged by flies while blessing the home of the newly arrived Lutz’s.

This first film revolves around George (James Brolin) and Kathy Lutz (Margot Kidder), and their newly merged family, moving into a riverfront home in the small town of Amityville. The house is a seemingly tranquil retreat except for one minor detail: The man who lived there prior to the Lutz family brutally killed his wife and children. Even with this knowledge, George and Kathy decide to purchase the house. As they begin unpacking their belongings, the Lutz family discovers strange things happening to them-odd nightmares, voices in the hall, and a feeling of madness that will drive them to the brink of sanity.

This film has a strong pedigree with the actors and workman director Stuart Rosenberg who uses jump scares to highlight what could be pretty mundane scenes. Needless to say the family is terrorized and there is ending to the film that will be familiar anyone who has ever seen a haunted house film.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary — Dr. Hans Holzer, expert in parapsychology and author of Murder in Amityville, shares his thoughts and expertise on the history of the family, the house, and the movie itself.

“For God’s Sake, Get Out!” (1080i/60, 22 min) — A short retrospective with James Brolin and Margot Kidder talking about their careers and their involvement with this production.

Haunted Melodies (HD, 10 min) — A recent interview with composer Lalo Schifrin discussing his career, influences and his creative approach to creating scores for horror movies

Trailers (HD) and Still Gallery (HD)

“The Amityville Horror II: The Possession” (1982)

Directed by: Damiano Damiani

Featuring: James Olson, Burt Young, and Rutanya Alda |

Mr. Booth, the Lawyer: [at the Montelli trial] “… Your Honor, it is my intention to prove that Sonny Montelli is a victim of demonic possession – that is, possession by the Devil – and therefore innocent of the charges placed against him.”

This second installment in the Amityville series is a “”prequel”” which traces the events leading up to The Amityville Horror. In Amityville II: The Possession, the Montelli family moves into the Amityville house with the demonic looking windows. The family’s patriarch, Anthony (Burt Young, Rocky), is a brutish father with a timid wife, Dolores (Rutanya Alda), two small children, and two teenagers, Patricia (Diane Franklin, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and Sonny (Jack Magner). After only a few days in their new home, strange occurrences take root; the cellar produces a nasty amount of flies and feces. Malevolent voices reverberate through the halls. And most disturbing, Sonny begins to have visions of murdering his entire family. The events that follow produce a battle between good and evil that ultimately pave the way to one of the greatest horrors Amityville has ever experienced.

Whilst there was some originalty in making this a prequel rather than a more traditional sequel this film falls down in many ways, mostly it is not based on anything that happened at the house and there are many inconsistencies between the first film and the second.

This is worth watching only as a curio and once watched you will probably never bother again.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary — Alexandra Holzer, professional ghost hunter, author of Growing up Haunted: A Ghostly Memoir and daughter of Dr. Hans Holzer, provides a horribly boring commentary track. Not only are there huge gaps of silence, but the times she does talk, she spends narrating and pointing out the most mundane, useless details. This ranks as one of the worst commentaries ever.

Continuing the Hunt (HD, 29 min) — The longest featurette is sadly given to Alexandra Holzer, the most boring, uninteresting person who has little connection to the Amityville legend other than being the daughter of Dr. Holzer. Talking in all seriousness about the paranormal and the unfounded stories surrounding the house, she talks extensively and in great detail about her father, his research, and his books.

A Mother’s Burden (HD, 14 min) — Recent Interview with actress Rutanya Alda reminiscing on the production.

Family Matters (HD, 14 min) — Another recent interview with actress Diane Franklin talking about her career, her involvement on this production and sharing her thoughts on the finished product.

Adapting Amityville (HD, 12 min) — Interview with screenwriter Tommy Lee Wallace discussing his interests on the subject, his thoughts on the real legend, his involvement on the project and his aspiration for doing a prequel and working with Damiani.

The Possession of Damiani (HD, 6 min) — The late director Damiano Damiani talks enthusiastically about his involvement, his creative approach to the script and his favorite aspects of the movie.

Father Tom’s Memories (HD, 4 min) — Actor Andrew Prine is given a few minutes to share his thoughts and memories.

Trailer (HD) — Two theatrical previews: one in English and the other in French.

Still Gallery (HD)

“The Amityville Horror III-D” (1983)

Directed by: Richard Fleischer

Featuring: Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Robert Joy

Melanie: [to John] “I don’t want another one of your rational explanations, John. I know what I experienced, and I’m not crazy.”

In this third film the story is based around John Baxter (Tony Roberts) who is a psychic investigator who spends his time debunking “”experts”” of the occult. John and his wife, Nancy (Tess Harper), are recently separated with a young daughter, Susan (Lori Loughlin). John haphazardly decides to purchase the infamous Amityville house and moves in, unaware of the horrible dangers that lie inside. As John spends more and more time inside the house, he begins to endanger not only himself but also his family, friends and coworkers.

The idea of 3D was used to get more people into theatres to watch what had become a tired series of movies, unfortunately it didn’t help and didn’t work, this is not a step up from the previous film and killed of this series until the remake in 2005.

Special Features:

A Chilly Reception (HD, 10 min) — A recent interview with actress Candy Clark sharing a few memories from the production, comments on the special effects and working with the cast & crew.

Trailer (HD) and Still Gallery (HD)

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