Do you believe in haunted houses? Do you believe in ghosts? How about urban legends? Well one of the most well known haunted houses in America is a home with the address 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York, the location of a brutal family murder and later the site of a terrifying haunting. This update on Rotten Ink is about Amityville and the horror of that house in honor of the upcoming film in cinemas from Dimension Films called “Amityville: The Awaking”, that will be released in 2017. So get your ghost hunting nerves in check and bust out your proton pack as we are traveling to Amityville to see if this haunting is fact or fiction. We take a look at the murders, the haunting, the films and the comic based on this nerve shattering spooky experience.
On November 13, 1974, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. armed with a Marlin 336C rifle shot and murdered his parents and his four siblings at around 3am. After he killed them, he rushed to the local bar and asked for help pretending he found his parents shot. When the police arrived, they noticed that all of the family members were in bed on their stomachs with each of the kids killed by a single gun shot, while the parents were shot twice. Ronald claimed to the police that he thought the murders were done by a mafia hitman and even supplied them with a name. This lead turned out to be bogus as the hitman was out of town when the murders took place. The next day Ronald confessed to the killings and said that once he started he could not stop, and took them to where he hid the rifle and his blood stained cloths. Ronald, who was 23 years old at the time of the murders, was a drug addict who had many fights with his father Ronald Sr. and during trial claimed that he heard the voices of his family plotting against him and that’s why he killed them all. The judge convicted Ronald on six counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced 25-life six times. Ronald is still in jail at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Beekman, New York and all attempts at parole have been shot down.
What was an open and close case for Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. also has its fair share of theories and conspiracies thanks to amateur detectives and Ronald himself. In 1986, Ronald claimed that his 18 year old sister Dawn was the one who killed their father and that his mother, in a fit of revenge, killed her children and in self defense he killed his mom and claimed he took the blame as he was afraid his grandfather who had mob ties would kill him for speaking ill of his daughter. 1990 saw yet another story from Ronald who claimed that his sister Dawn and a unknown male killed the whole family and that he only killed her in self defense while trying to get the rifle away from her. The judge dismissed this, but it did not stop Ronald from spreading more of his stories. In 2000, during a interview with author Ric Osuna, Ronald claimed that his sister Dawn, two friends and himself killed his parents, and he killed Dawn after he found out that she killed their siblings. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the stories about happened that November night as stories of evil spirits, an Indian burial ground, a very unnatural relationship between Ronald and Dawn, insurance money fraud and so many others are talked about and shared. While we may never really know what happened that night, one thing is for sure, six people lost their lives in a senseless act of violence, and may the DeFeo family rest in peace.
After the murders, the house on Ocean Avenue was put up for sale, and for 13 months it sat empty until December 1975 when George and Kathy Lutz bought it for only $80,000.00 and moved their newly formed family in. You see, Kathy had two sons, Daniel and Christopher, as well as a 5-year-old daughter named Missy from a previous marriage, and they had a family dog named Harry. While moving in, a friend of the Lutz family encouraged them to have the house blessed as it was the scene of the grizzly murders a little over a year before they bought it. They did so and the priest who blessed it heard a voice tell him to “GET OUT” in one of the second story bedrooms, and after leaving the home he developed a high fever as well as blisters. When trying to call the Lutz family to warn them not to go into that room, his call was interrupted by static. For 28 days the Lutz family lived in the house and each of them reported strange and creepy things like doors & windows slamming, green ooze pouring from walls and keyholes, a demon face was seen in the fireplace. Missy became friends with a imaginary friend called Jodie who had the body of a pig. Hoof prints were found around the yard of a giant pig. Glowing red eyes were seen outside, items moved, family members shape shifted, foul orders filled the air, large amount of flies would gather in the house and George even found a room he called the red room that freaked out the family dog! And this is just the drop in the hat of what the Lutz family claimed happened to them during their time living in the house. George claimed that he would even wake up every night at 3:15am and have the urge to check out the boathouse. The time was that of the DeFeo murders! During this time The Lutz family themselves tried to bless the house on their own, and one time a chorus of voices said “will you stop?” The final straw happened on January 16th 1976, when the Lutz said something so horrific and terrifying happened that they left the house for good leaving behind all their belongings, never to return.
After the Lutz family fled the house on Ocean Avenue, it became a hot bed for ghost chasers and thrill seekers as the story spread quickly of the evil spirits within its walls. On March 6 1976, the house was investigated by demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren as well as reporter Michael Linder for Channel 5 News to find if the house was indeed haunted. What they found that night via time lapse photos was a image of a demonic glowing eyed little boy who was captured at the foot of the staircase. The Warrens went on to claim that the house indeed was home to many malevolent spirits and was indeed haunted. For those who don’t know who the Warrens are, they are the basis for the Conjuring horror film series and have been said to have captured and stopped many hauntings and are even said to have cured a man who was a werewolf! Below is a picture of the Warrens as well as a picture of the demon boy captured by their camera.
In 1977 The Lutz Family told their story to Tam Mossman, an editor for a publishing house who introduced them to writer Jay Anson, who, alongside 45 hours of footage about the terrible events at the house on Ocean Avenue, wrote a book called “The Amityville Horror” that became an overnight success as people were drawn to read about this real life haunting. The book’s name was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s book The Dunwich Horror and would go on to sell over 10 million copies but also spark lots of talk if the haunting was fact or hoax! Many things have risen the eyebrows of people who want to debunk this haunting as no other residents of the house have ever reported any strange occurrences. The book came out after The Exorcist hit theaters, and many think that it was a way to cheaply cash in by using it as a marketing tool to sell the book, not to mention the priest who is said to have blessed the house has changed his story a number of times and even made a appearance on the Leonard Nimoy hosted show In Search Of…, claiming to have heard the voice tell him to get out. The Lutz family made lots of money off the book as well as selling this story to newspapers, magazines, TV and film, and George would later go on to say that most of what’s in the book is true. George and Kathy would get a divorce in the 80’s, but both claimed the haunting was real all the way up to their deaths. Kathy passed away in 2004 from emphysema, and George died in 2006 from heart disease. Do you think 112 Ocean Avenue is haunted? Or do you think it was a hoax and a way for the Lutz family to get fame and money from a terrifying story? I’m not 100% sure what to believe, but one thing is for sure, it’s one hell of a good yarn and is the stuff campfire tales are made of. But here are some fun and creepy facts about the house: actress Christine Belford who is known for her roles in such TV shows as Chips, Incredible Hulk and Silver Spoons lived in the house for years, and her parents are the ones who sold it to the DeFeo’s! Peter O’Neill lived in the house for 10 years, and he sadly lost his life in the September 11th attacks. The address to the home has been changed, and renovations have been made to keep tourists and sightseers off the property, as the residents get very annoyed by all the attention the home gets. But if you find you have some extra time this year and want a good read around the fall and wintertime, give The Amityville Horror book a read and see what you think is real and what’s fake.
So of course, the book being a best seller sparked Hollywood’s attention, and in 1979 they made a film based on the events. So below we are going to talk about the films and all the sequels that spawned off the original film,. I got the write ups from our friends at IMDB, and after each write up I give a little information about the films. So be prepared to get a quick crash course on the Amityville Horror flicks!
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Based on a true story that was claimed by writer Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror is about a large house on the coast of Long Island where newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz and their three children move into the house that they hope will be their dream house which ends up in terror. Despite full disclosure by the real estate agent of the house’s history, George and Kathy buy the house. George says, “Houses don’t have memories,” but they turn to their family priest Father Delaney who believes the house is haunted and performs an exorcism on the house. But the evil spirit in the house causes him to become blind and makes him very sick. With the help of another priest Father Bolen and a police detective, George and Kathy face the fears of the house, but not knowing the spirit is planning to possess George and then the children…
The film was a major hit at the box office, bringing in a total of $86.4 million and was the # 2 film of the year! It beat out such films as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Moonraker, The Muppet Movie, Meatballs and Alien! Stuart Rosenberg directed, and it stars James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Murray Hamilton and was released by American International Pictures.
Amityville II: The Possession (1982)
An Italian-American family move into a house built on an ancient Indian burial ground. The oldest son is possessed by an evil spirit, and is forced to murder his family. The family’s priest feels responsible, and tries to save the possessed boy’s soul.
This second film mixed possession and slasher and did okay for Orion Pictures, bringing in a total of $12,534,817.00. It was # 61 for the year, beating such films as Silent Rage, Savannah Smiles, Trail Of The Pink Panther, The Beast Within, Cat People and The Last Unicorn. This film was directed by Damiano Damiani and starred Burt Young, James Olson, Moses Gunn and a very lovely Diane Franklin, and remains a cult classic.
Amityville 3-D (1983)
A man who is separated from his wife moves into the infamous Amityville House. Their daughter dies in a boating accident (after being told that she is not allowed to go to the house) and now the mother sees her deceased daughter “alive” in the house. Mr. Baxtor calls a paranormal investigator in to help and the investigator finds out the source of the household problems.
The film was not a hit for Orion Pictures, bringing in a very low $6,333,135.00 and was # 88 for the year. It did beat such films as The Hunger, Chained Heat, Smokey & The Bandit Part III, Curse of the Pink Panther, The Evil Dead and Pieces. The film was directed by Richard Fleischer and featured Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Robert Joy and Meg Ryan in the cast. While a misfire, it still remains a cheesy classic for fans.
Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989)
The demonic force lurking in Amityville for over 300 years escapes to a remote California mansion. It encounters a struggling family living together by uncertain means. The beast manipulates a little girl by manifesting itself in the form of her dead father. Soon it will be able to possess her completely… is it too late for a young priest to defeat the demon and end the curse?
This film was made for TV for the fine folks at NBC and never made it to the big screen of theaters! The film was directed by Sandor Stern and starred the likes of Patty Duke, Jane Wyatt and Fredric Lehne.
The Amityville Curse (1990)
Five people spend the night in an abandoned house, the Amityville haunted house, and soon find themselves terrorized by assorted ghosts, venomous insects and ghostly apparitions.
This was the first in the film series to go direct to video, released by Vidmark and was directed by Tom Berry and starred Kim Coates, Dawna Wightman and Cassandra Gava.
Amityville: It’s About Time (1992)
When an old clock arrives at home as a gift, strange things begin to happen. The family that proudly assigned a privileged place to the clock in the living room, is unaware that this thing is a link to an old and evil house…
Another direct to video sequel that was directed by Tony Randel and starred Stephen Macht and Shawn Weatherly and was released by Republic Pictures.
Amityville: A New Generation (1993)
Photographer Keyes is given an old mirror from an homeless person he photographs on the street, takes it home and gives it a friend. He doesn’t know yet that people see horrible things happen to themselves in the mirror and later these things come true. Are these really suicides or is there a demonic force behind the mirror?
Another direct to video release that was directed by John Murlowski and stars the likes of Ross Partridge, Julia Nickson and Lala Sloatman.
Amityville: Dollhouse (1996)
A dollhouse that is a replica of the infamous Amityville haunted house is given to a little girl. Soon after, all sorts of horrible unexplained accidents start to happen. The family must work together to fight off the terrifying evil that has inhabited their lives.
You guessed it, this went direct to video and is directed by Steve White and stars Robin Thomas, Starr Andreeff and Allen Cutler.
The Amityville Horror (2005)
Newlyweds are terrorized by demonic forces after moving into a large house that was the site of a grisly mass murder a year before.
This was a remake of the 1979 film produced by those goons at Platinum Dunes and brought in $65,233,369.00 and was # 38 for the year. It beat out such films as Red Eye, White Noise, Corpse Bride, The Skeleton Key, Boogeyman, Legend of Zorro and House of Wax. The film is directed by Andrew Douglas and stars Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George and Chloe Grace Moretz.
Amityville: The Awaking (2017)
Belle, her little sister, and her comatose twin brother move into a new house with their single mother Joan in order to save money to help pay for her brother’s expensive healthcare. But when strange phenomena begin to occur in the house including the miraculous recovery of her brother, Belle begins to suspect her Mother isn’t telling her everything and soon realizes they just moved into the infamous Amityville house.
This movie is up against some other great horror films next year and is making me really hyped to see not only which one will take the highest spot at the box office but what will rank highest in my year-end review for 2017.
While those above are the more “official” sequels, many independent and no budget companies have made films to cash in on the Amityville name. Amityville Death House, Amityville Asylum, Amityville Theater, Amityville Haunting as well as many documentaries and even short films like High Hopes, a school project flick from my friend Dusty Austen from Wooster made that breaks down the DeFeo murders, all have flooded video shelves as well as streaming sites. The cool thing about these films are that while Hollywood would backburner the “official” series, these films kept the story fresh and added new twists to the terrifying haunting tale. Baron Von Porkchop even hosted High Hopes by Dusty on one of his Halloween special adventures, and he was able to share that film with viewers who may have never gotten the chance to see it. So if you’re a fan of Amityville Horror, make sure to give some of these independent films a watch. Who knows, they might scare you more than the official films!
My close friend and filmmaker Henrique Couto has also released a Amityville film this year called “Amityville No Escape” that is a found footage style film. One of the coolest thing about this film is that my cousin Stephen Alexander II and myself have cameos in it. That’s right, I am in an Amityville Horror-inspired film! I play a worker at a shop in Amityville that is being asked questions by the film’s lead, and I am not ashamed to say I ham it up on the screen telling him that he doesn’t want to go around that house. The set we used was Game Swap in Kettering and being asked to star in this film came at the right time as I was all ready doing research for this update. So make sure to check out this film when it’s out DVD and also support your local hometown filmmakers as they are the new breed of creators that will bring films to the big and small screens across the world. I am proud of my friend Henrique as well as my other filmmaking friends Dusty A, Chris Seaver, Chris LaMartina, Fred Vogel, Matt Hoffman, Eamon Hardiman, Eric Widing, David “The Rock” Nelson and so many others all who are talented and skilled masters of what they do.
I would also love to take a moment to talk about the 1979 score soundtrack for The Amityville Horror done by Lalo Schifrin. The score is something that I bought on CD many years back when I started to collect horror film scores. The main theme is something I have played for many years on WYSO’s Alpha Rhythms Halloween Special, and it always gets high remarks and “thank you” for playing messages. The main title is pretty iconic and most old school horror fans can name that tune only a few bars into the song, but the rest of the score as well is really well done and fits the mood of the film and is great background music when working on a blog update like this or any other horror themed update. If you enjoy creepy mood music that is the perfect background to not only your halloween party but also your relaxing comic book reading time, I would say check out Schifrin’s score as it is well done and is sure to please any score music fan.
Before we move on, I want to talk a little about my connection to The Amityville Horror book and movies. Growing up, I can remember my Mom and Dad talking about The Amityville Horror when it was coming on TV, and my brother Bryan and I wanted to watch it. My Mom being her normal self told us that while the film claimed it was based in fact, it was indeed not and that she thought that the family made up the haunting in order to get rich. I can remember watching it in the dark sitting in the living room at our house in Waynesville and being a little creeped out by the glowing eyes looking in the home via the window, but also being slightly bored as I wanted to see the ghosts! Over time I can remember seeing the book at garage sales and second hand book stores and always asking to get it to read but my Mom always saying no. When she finally gave in, I remember reading most of it and saying this is good but not nearly as scary as I was led to believe. As I grew up, the Amityville Horror films found their way into my VHS collection, and I found a new love for how cheesy and over the top the sequels were. When I met my friend Mike Ritchie, who was working at Blockbuster Video at the time, his love for The Amityville Horror helped spark our friendship and still to this day I look at him as one of my nearest and dearest friends. Plus I can remember being a young teen and thinking just how hot Margot Kidder, who played Kathy Lutz in the first film, and Diane Franklin, who played Patricia Montelli, were and marveled at their near nude scenes. Nowadays I own all the official Amityville Horror films on DVD and even have an import of Amityville: The Curse to complete my collection and have a soft spot in my heart for this series as growing up it always seemed more of a major franchise than it was. Check out the pics of Kidder and Franklin below to see why the younger me had horror film crushes on them.
Okay, I think it’s time that we gear up to enter the house at 112 Ocean Avenue and see what Rosen Publishing has in store for us! I want to thank Amazon for having this in stock for me to review. Wait, did you hear that? It’s like a voice out of the darkness saying that I should also remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that message from beyond, we should step over the green ooze and see what horror awaits us in these comic pages.
Ghosts In Amityville # 1 **
Released in 2006 Cover Price $7.95 Rosen Publishing #1 of 1
In 1975, The Lutz family move to Amityville, New York in a big house on Ocean Avenue, but their dream house has a dark side as a year earlier a young man murdered his family and claimed voices in the house commanded him to do so. The Lutz Family start to hear noises late at night, see shadows and ghosts as well as a sinister pair of glowing eyes that watches them from the outside from the windows. The youngest Lutz child makes a friend with the spirit of a child and more odd things start happening around the house including George being sick many nights, him waking up at 3:15am in the morning with the urge to check the boathouse, loud doors slamming, moving shadows and furniture that arranges itself in the middle of the night. Things kept getting worse including finding giant hoof prints outside, and finally the family has had enough and leaves the house never to return. After the Lutz leave, a paranormal investigator group comes to look at the house and makes a judgment that something wicked does live there.
This felt like a stub on a Wikipedia page; it gave you some basic information but over all by the end you fell like you really didn’t learn anything new. The story of the comic is based on the tale of the Lutz family and has them moving into a house and being scared off by ghosts and evil spirits. None of the Lutz family is fleshed out, so you don’t build up to much of a bond with them. The father, George Lutz, is the only one who kind of shines as he is shown to have gotten sick while living in the house and is the last of the family to see a ghost as they flee the house for good. The evil spirits on the other hand are pretty mean and seem to enjoy tormenting the family and even at one point try to kill the family dog! The comic is not scary and has zero blood show. This is pretty normal as it is a kids horror comic meant to help kids to read and learn about a unknown phenomenon. The comic goes by fast and seems to be more pictures than dialogue and most scary moments are dulled down in the art as they didn’t go for many scares. At the end, the comics has Did You Know Facts, Glossary, Index and a link to websites taking up space that could have been used to flesh out more of the story. The art is done by Q2A and is pretty good stuff, basic but good as the story is written by Jack DeMolay and is summed up as good for the level of reader this comic was made for. Over all this is a cool little graphic novel comic for horror fans and was at least a tool for me to write a fun update. Check out some artwork below…sorry for the quality, I had to take it with my cellphone.
So we made it out of Amityville, and it looks like the evil spirits might have been on vacation as this Jr. graphic novel failed to deliver a scare or even a chill. But with it being for kids, I knew that it would not be to over the top in scares or blood. It was really fun talking about Amityville and was something I wanted to do for a couple of years now, but our next update might be even scarier than the haunting in Amityville, and I am sure grossed out kids of the 80’s…that’s right, we will be taking a look at Madballs! So until then, go on a ghost hunting adventure with friends, read a comic or three and support your local Horror Host!