The classic and terrifying story of one of the most famous supernatural events–the infamous possessed house on Long Island from which the Lutz family fled in 1975.
Okay, so this was meant to be my Halloween special review (you can check out last year’s here), but because I’m shit, I’m 11 days late (doing the review, not that kinda late. Don’t worry, there’ll be no baby Jazzs, thank God). Better late than never, though, right?
So The Amityville Horror was gifted to me on my birthday way back in early October and I was super excited to get stuck in. My favourite kind of horror stories are the kind that are supposedly built upon a foundation of truth (and I use the term ‘favourite’ very loosely here because how can something that scares the metaphorical shit out of me possibly be my favourite? Some mysteries will have to remain unsolved).
The book begins in December 1975, with the Lutz family moving into their new home at 112 Ocean Avenue in the town of Amityville. However, just over one year prior, on 13th November 1974, the spacious family home bore witness to a grisly mass murder at the hands of Ronald DeFeo. The Lutz family aren’t superstitious, though, and while they think the crime tragic and unfortunate, they’re nonetheless excited to move into their new home with their three children.
112 Ocean Avenue was to be their home but for a mere twenty eight days.
What I found chilling about The Amityville Horror is that it doesn’t play out like your stereotypical, run-of-the-mill horror. The events described within it predate horror tropes that began to creep into movies and books of the same genre in much later years (like the green Jel-o type substance seeping down the walls, which instantly put me in mind of Slimer from Ghostbusters, a movie which was released in 1984, seven years after this book). There were also some events – like the black water in the toilets and the front door being violently warped and ripped off its hinges – that I have yet to read of in other books and its the originality of these events that add an air of authenticity to this book. I found myself reading The Amityville Horror and thinking “This sounds pretty convincing” and when you can actually imagine those types of events happening to yourself and your own family, that’s when the chills really begin to seep into your bones.
The horror is a slow-burner. There are multiple occasions when the Lutzs dismiss their experiences as tiredness or their imaginations and what makes for a real edge-of-your-seat horror story is that by the time they realise that something quite other is at play, it’s too late.
What I find most interesting about this story, outside of Jay Anson’s book, is that subsequent owners have reported no such events as the Lutz family described. What do you think? Do you think the Lutz family simply wanted their 15 minutes of fame? Do you think their prior knowledge of the house’s history influenced their perception of otherwise natural occurrences? Did the entities that DeFeo claimed ‘spoke’ to him see something of DeFeo in George Lutz? Let me hear your ideas in the comments below!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Song: Roger Daltrey’s Don’t let the sun go down on me (because who’d want to spend a night in that house?)
This book is available on Amazon in a shit ton of different formats (okay, like five)