"I don’t think the house was haunted. I know the house was haunted."
One could almost hear the thunder clasp outside when renowned psychic researcher
Lorraine Warren made this statement regarding the house at 112 Ocean Ave. in Long
She was referring to the house made famous by the 1979 film The Amityville
Horror – soon to be made famous all over again – in the 2005 remake
starring National Lampoon’s Van Wilder’s Ryan Reynolds and
Melissa George of TV’s "Alias."
Warren went on to say that "the property (112 Ocean Ave.) was used as a sort
of insane asylum for Native Americans who were sick and dying. There had been
an enclosure on the property, where patients were housed. Inhuman spirits revel
in such suffering and are able to infest the graves of those who were buried in
Warren and her husband, a prominent demonologist, visited the home after the Lutz’s
fled. Warren said her husband truly believed that the Amityville house was "a
house of evil."
In the second production outing for Platinum Dunes, the producers decided
to stick with a similar formula that made their first feature, The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre, a success: First, take a successful horror movie from
the ’70s that is based on real events. Second, shoot a low-budget movie
that gets its scares more from its effect on the psyche than from special effects.
"Horror films based in reality strike a much deeper chord [than those based
on the supernatural], says producer Andrew Form. "They tend to linger in
the minds of movie audiences long after they have left the theater."
There has been debate over the years about whether the infamous house in Amityville
was truly haunted. But the facts hold true: On Nov. 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr.
shot his parents and younger siblings in their beds with a high powered rifle
while they slept.
Warren says it was odd that each victim was sleeping on his or her stomach while
the crime occurred, and that no one woke up or cried out during the shooting.
She believes the DeFeos "were in a state of ‘phantomania,’ which
in effect paralyzed them, making them unable to cry out for help."
After his arrest, DeFeo claimed that voices in the house made him do it. Shortly
thereafter, the Lutz family moved in, only to leave abruptly after 28 days without
any of their belongings.
In addition to the facts on file, producer Brad Fuller interviewed one of the
DeFeos’ neighbors. The neighbor wondered why the previously secular DeFeos
were suddenly placing religious artifacts in the yard. Ronald DeFeo, Sr. informed
the neighbor that it was to "get the devil off my back."
Although the Lutz children have been notoriously silent about their ordeal, producer
Brad Fuller said that Chelsea Lutz – the daughter of George and Kathy Lutz
– recently made a short statement to the media about having a friend in the
house who was, in fact, the deceased Jodie DeFeo.
With a movie carrying this much baggage, the production was bound to have some
eerie moments of its own.
The film was shot on a small lake in Wisconsin and, according to everyone
involved in The Amityville Horror, a body was found in the lake during
the first week of shooting. Not only that, Kathy Lutz died during the second
week of production.
Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George play George and Kathy Lutz, roles originally
played by the much older James Brolin and Margot Kidder in the original film
version of The Amityville Horror.
Producer Fuller explains: "One of the first things we discovered before casting
the film was how young the real characters were when these events took place in
1975. George Lutz was only 28 and Kathy Lutz was 30. They played it much older
in the original movie, but we wanted to cast the roles true to their actual ages.
We also wanted to get actors who haven’t been seen in these kinds of roles
For the role of patriarch George Lutz, in stepped Ryan Reynolds who was seen
most recently providing comedic relief in Blade: Trinity. He’s also
been in the gossip pages for his engagement to singer Alanis Morissette.
Reynolds was eager to show off his acting range in his portrayal of Lutz coming
under the influence of the house’s spirits. He also admits that during filming,
"lights went on and off in the house during the middle of the night. The
security guards couldn’t ever find anybody in the house or explain how it
"I also awoke up at 3:15 a.m. [on] the first night of shooting, which was
really freaky," he recalls. In the film, 3:15 a.m. was the exact time that
Ronald DeFeo, Jr. executed his family.
Australian actress and "Alias" star Melissa George stepped in to
play the role of Kathy Lutz. Beyond Amityville, she will also be seen
this fall opposite recent Oscar-nominee Clive Owen and recent tabloid fixture
Jennifer Aniston in the movie Derailed.
George was more than happy to apply the butt-kicking skills she learned on "Alias"
to her role in the movie.
She also concedes to some mysterious occurrences during production. "Everyone
was always falling down inside the house for no apparent reason," says George,
"and things would mysteriously disappear. It was also crazy that the house
[used in filming] was located in the town of Salem, which is also the name of
the town the DeFeos were from."
The producers hope that the film’s reality-based nature will create real
scares for audiences.
"The reason this is one of the most famous haunted house stories is because
it is based in reality," says producer Form. "It’s a fact that
Ronald DeFeo murdered his family for no apparent reason. It’s also a fact
that George and Kathy Lutz and their three kids ran for their lives after 28 days
of living in the house. Hopefully this film will give audiences insight into what
caused a perfectly normal family to be shaken to its core and act in such a manner."
The Amityville Horror releases in theaters April 15.
Article posted on 4/12/2005
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