“The Amityville Horror” (1979) dir. Stuart Rosenberg

I realize this is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, much of this is fairly laughable and campy.  But … I have a soft spot in my heart for this film, mainly because it was the first R-rated movie I ever saw.

Let’s take the wayback machine to the summer of 1979 … “The Amityville Horror” was the most popular film of the latter months of that summer and my brother and I wanted to see it.  The only problem?  It was rated R.  My mom was fairly vigilant about shielding us from inappropriate content.  But one of her friends told her that the film wasn’t that bad and that she couldn’t understand why it was rated R.  So with this “endorsement,” my Mom took my brother and me to see this at the Circle 6 in Norfolk, VA.

My impressions at the time?  I enjoyed the film, but kind of wondered what all the fuss was about.  I didn’t find the majority of it scary at all.  However, I enjoyed a lot of hip cachet with my peers for seeing an R-rated film, so of course, I indulged … if not embellished … all the sordid things I witnessed.  Allright, cut me some slack, I was 9.

Anyway, the thing that freaked me out the most wasn’t the haunted house shenanigans (i.e. blood in the toilet, flies attacking the priest, the voices saying “Get out!”), but the opening, the true-life event that allegedly made the house haunted.  This was when the son of the previous house owners massacred the entire family in cold blood.  That’s the part that I couldn’t comprehend and that’s the part that actually gave me nightmares.  I remember asking my mom would someone would kill their entire family and the response was that the boy was “insane.”  That didn’t rest well with me then … and still doesn’t rest well with me now, even though it’s probably true.  Tellingly, it was the part of that “Amityville Horror” story that actually happened that frightened me the most.  The haunted house crap … that even at the age of 9, I shrugged my shoulders at … has since been discredited by many people.  I have no idea if what the Lutzes experienced was true or not.  But the opening events which are not in dispute terrified me the most.

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