When The Shining hit movie theaters in 1980, many cynics wrote it off as an Amityville wannabe.The Amityville Horror was one of those 1970s phenomenons that bridged the gap between old fashioned haunted house stories and The Shining. Young people in 2013 have no idea how popular it was in its day. It was so popular, in fact, that when The Shining hit movie theaters in 1980, many cynics wrote it off as an Amityville wannabe. That’s impossible to imagine now, but in the 1970s, The Amityville Horror ruled.
It was first a bestselling book by Jay Anson, based on an actual haunted house case in Amityville N.Y. In 1979 the book was turned into a popular horror movie starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder. It spawned nine sequels. couldn’t tarnish the original story of the Lutz family moving into a house where a mass murder had taken place.Mr. Lutz became very violent, as the fathers in haunted houses usually do.The Lutzes became celebrities of a sort, appearing on daytime talk shows talking about the spooky things they saw in their house, which included a red-eyed ghost of a small boy, lots of bees, and the apparition of some sort of fiendish pig monster. And of course, Mr. Lutz became very violent, as the fathers in haunted houses usually do. The book sold like crazy.
Flash forward to this year. My Amityville Horror, a documentary by Eric Walter, focuses on Daniel Lutz, the boy of the saga. Now in his 40s, Lutz recalls his days as a teen in the haunted Amityville house at 112 Ocean Ave. More than that, though, he talks about how much he hated his step-father, and how he hated being known as “the kid from The Amityville Horror.”
Lutz grew to be a craggy, shaven-headed, chain-smoker who talks a lot about himself. He plays electric guitar, strikes a lot of tough poses, and wears a lot of T-shirts with skulls on them. The documentary follows him as he drives around the old neighborhood, has a half-hearted session with a therapist, and kvetches. You keep hoping the evil pig makes an appearance, but no such luck.He’s like Danny Bonaduce talking about his days sleeping in his car behind the dumpster at Denny’s.You start out wanting to feel sorry for the guy – he maintains that everything we’ve read about the house was true – and you hope to learn what it feels like to survive such a frightening childhood event. But before 10 minutes have passed, Daniel Lutz sounds like some has-been child star complaining about how hard he had it. Seriously, he’s like Danny Bonaduce talking about his days sleeping in his car behind the dumpster at Denny’s. Granted, you see a flaming pig monster often enough in your youth and it is bound to stunt your emotional growth. We get that. But it doesn’t make for a compelling documentary. This documentary is slow, and indulgent, and once you’ve seen Lutz noodling on his guitar a few times, you are ready to swear off heavy metal forever.
My Amityville Horror is currently making the rounds on various pay services such as On Demand. Skip it. You’ll find something better on Celebrity Ghost Stories on BIO.