Rod Steiger, Margot Kidder, James Brolin, Burt Young, Candy Clark and even a young Meg Ryan. The original trio of Amityville movies starred some well-known Hollywood talent. But the opening credits of all three omit a very important name—the name of the main attraction, in fact. Why is there no credit for … The House?
Without The House (middle name: Spooky), The Amityville Horror would have been an OK but pretty run-of-the-mill thriller. But the setting raises proceedings to another level. And those attic windows, which apparently were a feature of the actual Amityville house, make all the difference. There’s sentience behind those eyes … I mean, those cold panes of glass.
In Amityville II: The Possession, the atmosphere of malice is even thicker. Perhaps it’s the Italian influence of director Damiano Damiani and his cinematographer Franco Di Giacomo. At any rate, no haunted house movie has ever looked better. And the opening is a classic. The House waits in the mist, a brooding structure on some supernatural borderland, as the camera slowly approaches. There’s a strange sort of confidence in the air. The House knows that you, the viewer, will come. And Lalo Schifrin’s excellent music doesn’t hurt, either.
Perhaps out of necessity, Amityville: The Demon does away with the moody touches of its predecessor. This approach made people and objects stand out better in the original 3D, I suppose. But The House is back. And it still exudes malevolence. Norman Bates (and his dear old mother) can keep their creaky, old California abode. Although it’s a memorably creepy image, perched like a vulture above the carrion that is the Bates Motel, The House in Amityville, Long Island is the king of macabre movie dwellings.
As with people, it’s all in the eyes.