Amityville 1974

To paraphrase the original film, for god’s sake, stop making Amityville Horror movies. When you include direct-to-video titles, there have been 23 films based on The Amityville Horror. And if you add documentaries to the mix, that number gets even higher. The story has been told, and told again, and again, since the 1970s. Surely, there’s nothing more to say, right?

Wrong! There’s a new Amityville Horror movie headed our way – Amityville 1974, which will serve as a kind of prequel for the original Amityville Horror. Of course, 1982’s Amityville II: The Possession was also a prequel, but I guess we can just pretend that didn’t happen.

In 1975, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into a large house at 112 Ocean Avenue located in Amityville, a town in Long Island, New York. Less than a month later, the Lutz’s fled the house in terror, citing a whole cavalcade of ghostly experiences.

Except, there’s a good chance none of that happened. The Lutz story was famously documented in the “non-fiction” 1977 book The Amityville Horror, written by  Jay Anson. The book was in turn adapted into a hit film in 1979. But critics have long contended the Lutz family made the whole thing up, and subsequent owners of the house – which still stands to this day – never reported any paranormal activity.

But Hollywood doesn’t give a shit! Producers and filmmakers love that they can release a film with Amityville in the title, and slap a BASED ON TRUE EVENTS disclaimer somewhere on the poster. That’s why there have been almost two-dozen movies inspired by the story. Some have been incredibly low budget affairs seen by no one. Some have been higher-profile – like the 2005 remake that introduced the world to Ryan Reynolds’s new abs.

Now here comes Amityville 1974, a new film from director Casey La ScalaAmityville 1974 will also employ the BASED ON TRUE EVENTS disclaimer, but it’s worth nothing that this film will at least have more basis for that claim than other adaptations. Because here’s what really did happen in that house: in 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. took a shotgun and killed six of his family members one night. DeFeo later claimed demons told him to pull the trigger, but it’s been a long-held belief that he simply made that up to help with an insanity defense.

The DeFeo murders will be the focus of Amityville 1974, which was just green lit by the Wonderfilm Media Corporation. “We are beyond thrilled to introduce Amityville 1974. Casey has a truly unique and terrifying vision for the fright franchise and audiences will experience horror like never before with this film,” said Jeff Bowler, founding partner of Wonderfilm Media.

“This is a story that takes its jumping off point from the true facts surrounding the Defeo tragedy, but also focuses on the human drama that took place inside a family as they were relentlessly stalked by a terrifying evil,” added writer-director Casey La Scala.

The DeFeo story was also the inspiration for 1982’s Amityville II: The Possession, albeit in a highly fictionalized form (even the names were changed). Whether or not the new film will try to stick close to the facts, or go for a full-blown supernatural creepshow, remains to be seen.

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