But back up... haven't we heard this story before? Possibly so. Chronologically the first in the "Series" (such that it is), Amityville II: The Possession retells the true story of the DeFeo Family. The eldest DeFeo son Ronnie "Butch" DeFeo (in real life) shot and killed off his brothers, his mom, his pop and both little sisters all snug in their beds, then he headed down town to the Buick Dealership! In real life, Ronnie was a drug-addled and angry young man, who faced years of abuse and outrage, and when he started shooting, he just couldn't stop. But it was after the Lutz family moved into the self-same residence and fled in terror 28 Days Later that rumors of Ronnie's Demonic Possession, or at least influence of "Voices" began to surface like Nessie from the Loch.
That's where this flick comes in! Whether you believe in The Amityville Horror or not, there's no denying that the original film (of questionable quality) was a pretty decent hit, and a sequel/prequel was warranted (financially at least). What we get in this film bears so little resemblance to actual events (supernatural or otherwise) surrounding the DeFeos that a name change was called for... not to mention the fact that none of the Montelli counterparts to the real DeFeos are represented in a particularly flattering light.
If you're looking for a true story on the Amityville Murders, I'd recommend the History Channel's documentaries on the Amityville Horror. If you're looking for a bad, cheesy, yet somehow still interesting and fun little Horror Flick, look no further than this relic of celluloid!
Make no mistake, Amityville II: The Possession is, at best, a retread of the plight of the Lutz family, with similar concepts concerning the visiting priest, the hidden evil room downstairs, and the slowly changing character falling into his own psychological hell. At worst, this is a low-rent retread of The Exorcist with rubbery special effects and more cheese than an Italian Pasta Casserole. To call this movie predictable and silly would fall into the text-book definition of Apt!
However, knowing this, Amityville II: The Possession is kind of a neat little throw-away with a hint of good acting, brief, yet appreciated nudity, challenging camera angles (really), and even a fright or two. Sure you might laugh much, much more than scream, and sure the entire last half is tacked on like a second (worse) movie, but it beats listening to drunken Karaoke... some.
Director Damiano Damiani (if there was ever a name made-up for directing Horror Movies, this is it) manages to keep this film interesting. His use of positioning and angles serves to add layers of imagery that rises above the bad script. Scenes in which the face-like side of the famous Ocean Avenue house appears to loom over the characters as if spying on them work much better than you'd think. Also, as Sonny (the not-so-bad Jack Magner) begins his transformation, those creepy Fan-Shaped windows are in the background watching over him.
And although any realism in Hans Holzer's book Murder in Amityville is stripped away in favor of melodramatic corniness in the script (by Tommy Lee Wallace and Fulci-protÚgÚ Dardano Sacchetti), Diane Franklin tries her damndest to give (the briefly topless) Patricia Montelli more than one dimension, as does Rutanya Alda with Dolores Montelli. Likewise Superman's Pal James Olson (as Father Adamsky without the musical pharmacy) and Moses Gunn (as Detective [Ike?] Turner) make the entirely unnecessary second half at least somewhat bearable.
There once was an episode of "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" in which Joel and the Bots threw a celebratory party because the experiment they were sent was "not really that bad". That sums up last night for me. Sure, the movie sucked, but it sucked far, far less than I thought it would! Huzzah! Two Stars out of Five for Amityville II: The Possession. George Lutz claims to have sued to keep them from calling this "The Amityville Horror 2", which just might explain the Gregory Benford Moment surrounding the family names. However, no claim of reality or the supernatural can change the fact that sometimes the cheesiest movies are the funnest. Roll your eyes, scoff, laugh, and pop the old corn for this thing... but before you're too, too hard on this poor, pouty prequel, take note: Dino De Laurentiis was the producer, and his cheese-sailin' self could cheddar up even a Shakespeare movie. Ahem... See you in the next squeal.
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