Today’s installment brings you two movies based on the reportedly true story of terror experienced by George Lutz and his wife Kathleen. You must already be familiar with them—The Amityville Horror flicks both past and recent—but not the eerie events related to their filming.
In September 1977, American author Jay Anson published what would be his best-known work: a book entitled “The Amityville Horror: A True Story.” It tells about the story of the Lutz Family moving into a spacious Dutch Colonial house in December 1975, situated in Amityville, a suburb in Long Island, New York. George and Kathy Lutz, despite the thinking that 112 Ocean Avenue was the house of their dreams, bought the property for a bargain price of $80,000 and soon moved in with Kathy’s three children from her previous marriage. However, the house proved to be far from perfect, as the Lutzes soon experienced terrifying paranormal activities, and had to leave 28 days later.
Two years after Anson’s novel was released, he wrote a screenplay for a film adaptation, but the producers chose the version penned by Sandor Stern.
Perhaps, what made the 1979 Amityville Horror film (and the sequels and remakes that followed) effectively terrifying was not the “true” story of the Lutzes, but the real, grisly tale behind everything: the killing of the six DeFeos by the eldest son of the family, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo, Jr., thirteen months prior to the Lutzes’ moving.
Even the main stars who breathed life into the cinematic versions of the Lutzes’ paranormal experiences did not seem to escape the creepiness surrounding the films:
1. James Brolin, the actor who starred as George Lutz in the 1979 film, was initially hesitant to accept the role. When he was told that there won’t be a script for him to work with, he opted to read a copy of Anson’s novel and flipped the pages until 2 in the morning. When he got to an “especially tense” portion of the book, the pair of pants he hung earlier suddenly fell to the floor. He finally agreed to star in the movie, believing that there was “something” to the story.
2. Ryan Reynolds, who starred as George Lutz in the 2005 remake, claimed that he kept waking up at 3:15 in the morning, like the real and movie-version George did. The eerie coincidence? It was actually the estimated time when the DeFeo killings occurred.
3. Also, just before the filming of the 2005 remake began, the body of a deceased fisherman reportedly washed ashore on the set.
On an interesting side note, there were also “investigations” for paranormal activity conducted inside the 112 Ocean Avenue itself. A time lapse photography done by a group of paranormal experts in March 1976 appears to have captured what is believed to be the ghost of the youngest DeFeo. But, let’s reserve that for another story!
So, what do you think of the frightening tales behind the Amityville Horror movies? Tell us with a comment below!
Sources and additional readings:
Are Some Movie Sets Really Cursed? -- MTV News
The Amityville Horror -- Wikipedia
The Amityville Horror (1979 film) -- Wikipedia
Ronald DeFeo, Jr. -- Wikipedia.
The Amityville Horror (1979) Trivia -- IMDb
The Amityville Horror -- Ghastly Ghost Gallery