Blu-ray Review “The Amityville Horror Trilogy”

Starring: James Olson, Tony Roberts, James Brolin, Burt Young, Tess Harper, Margot Kidder
Directors: Damiano Damiani, Richard Fleischer, Stuart Rosenberg
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Shout! Factory
DVD Release Date: October 1, 2013
Run Time: 316 minutes

The Amityville Horror: 4 out of 5 stars
The Amityville Horror Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Amityville II: The Possession: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Amityville II: The Possession Extras: 4 out of 5 stars
Amityville 3-D: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Amityville 3-D Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

Growing up living about 10 minutes from the real “Amityville” house. I have been exposed to the films and the events behind the films since I was a little kid. This series has always been a favorite of mine. Shout! Factory has really delivered a fantastic trilogy collection here with this release. “The Amityville Horror (1979)” is the only film of the three that has been released on Blu-ray prior. This marks the Blu-ray debuts for both “Amityville II: The Possession” and “Amityville 3-D”. And that’s right “Amityville 3-D” is actually presented in digital 3D, no anaglyph red/blue glasses. It really puts the recently released “Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection” to shame since they released “Friday the 13th: Part III in 3D” in that lame and out of date format. Shout! really catered to the fans here and really scored with this release. A must have for any fan, no question at all.

“The Amityville Horror (1979)” Official Premise: The Long Island colonial house on the river’s edge seemed perfect. Quaint, spacious and affordable, it was just what George and Kathy Lutz had been looking for. But looks can be deceiving…and their new dream home soon becomes a hellish nightmare as the walls begins to drip blood and satanic forces haunt them with sheer, unbridled evil. Now, with their lives – and their souls – in danger, the Lutzes must run as fast as they can from the home they once loved…or fall prey to its terrifying power. Starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Oscar-winner Rod Steiger, this bone-chilling, special-effects laden thriller will hit you where you live.

“Amityville II: The Possession” Official Premise: Before the residence at 112 Ocean Avenue became infamous in The Amityville Horror, its supernatural legacy of terror had already begun. Inspired by a true story, this chilling prequel is a bloodcurdling, special-effects-laden encounter with all-powerful, all-consuming evil. Although the Montellis are not exactly the “perfect family,” at least they’ve found the perfect home. And even though a liquid that looks like blood gushes from the kitchen faucet and every window has been nailed shut, it still qualifies as their dream house… until all hell breaks loose! A local priest tries to rid the house of unclean spirits, but what he doesn’t yet suspect is that teenage son Sonny Montelli has been possessed, body and soul, by a murderous demon bent on total destruction.

“Amityville 3-D” Official Premise: To debunk the Amityville house’s infamous reputation and take advantage of a rock-bottom asking price, skeptical journalist John Baxter (Roberts) buys the place and settles in to write his first novel. But as soon as the ink on the deed has dried, people who have come into contact with him-and the house-begin to meet with a shocking fate. Is it coincidence…or is this house really the gateway to hell? Packed with bone-chilling special effects, this third rendezvous with terror in Amityville stars Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Robert Joy, Candy Clark and Meg Ryan.

Each film comes with its own specs but all equally impressive. “The Amityville Horror (1979)” looks awesome as it has in the past on Blu-ray. The 1080p transfer is well done and comes presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The audio included are both a DTS-Master Audio 5.1 and DTS Master Audio Mono tracks. I have to go with the 5.1 track for sure. With “Amityville II: The Possession”, the 1080p transfer looks solid as well within its 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It only comes with a DTS Master Audio Mono track but it still works well. Lastly “Amityville 3-D” looks quite amazing with its 1080p transfer within an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The 3D presentation of this film is quite awesome in fact and really represented the way the film was meant to be seen. Very great job here for sure. The audio track is also a major score with its DTS-Master Audio 5.1 track, which is great.

The special features are pretty great on the first two films at least. For “The Amityville Horror (1979)”, there is a new interview with Composer Lalo Schifrin in “Haunted Melodies”. “For God’s Sake, Get Out!” is a documentary with interviews from James Brolin and Margot Kidder. There is an audio commentary track by Dr. Hans Holzer, PH.D. in Parapsychology (author of Murder in Amityville), it is a little more preachy than production technical but lover of Amityville will enjoy. Lastly there is an Original Theatrical Trailer, TV Spot and Radio Spots included.

Since this is the first time that “Amityville II: The Possession” is hitting Blu-ray, the extras are quite impressive. There is an interview with Director Damiano Damiani in “The Posession of Damiani”. There are also five new interviews included here. “Adapting Amityville” is a new interview with Screenwriter Tommy Lee Wallace. “Family Matters” – New Interview with Actress Diane Franklin (I just love her, so sweet). “A Mother’s Burden” is a new interview with Actress Rutanya Alda. “Father Tom’s Memories” is a new interview with Actor Andrew Prine. There is also a new interview with ghost hunter/author Alexandra Holzer, who authored “Growing up Haunted: A Ghostly Memoir” and also delivers a new audio commentary track as well. Lastly there is an Original Theatrical Trailer included.

Even though “Amityville 3-D” hits Blu-ray for the first time, the extras are not as impressive as the previous two films. There is only a Original Theatrical Trailer included for this film, which is quite disappointing. Of course, if you can consider the fact of the film being presented in both 2D and Blu-ray 3D presentation, then that can really make up for the lack of extras in my eyes, especially since this is the first time the way was released in 3D since the film was in theaters.

Eric Walter talking about directing "My Amityville Horror"

Eric Walter is the director of the new film surrounding Long Island, NY’s famous haunted house with the documentary  “My Amityville Horror”. The film gets a first hand revisit the former house resident Daniel Lutz, who was only 10 during the events back in the 70’s. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Eric about the film and working with Daniel Lutz.

Mike Gencarelli: What made to you want to get involved with “My Amityville Horror”?
Eric Walter: To present a new perspective on the events in Amityville was my initial motivation. Daniel Lutz is the first of the Lutz children to come forward with his entire account of what he claims happened inside that house, so this was an extraordinary opportunity to explore these allegations with someone who was there. However, once I got to know Daniel, it was apparent he still wears the scars of The Amityville Horror to this day and has been unfortunately forever damaged by whatever happened to his family inside that house. I’ve also had an obsessive interest with this case since I was child. Reviewing the years of heated debates surrounding both the DeFeo murders and the Lutz haunting, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the personalities that surround it and their apparent desire to defend their part of the story. This controversy would have never continued if the original participants weren’t still so entangled within it. In January of 2007, I launched, an enormous online archive of Amityville-related research. I wanted to create an unbiased presentation of the known facts surrounding the case – somewhere people who are interested in these events could go and read through the original newspaper articles, view media and essentially draw their own conclusions on what they believe went down in that house.

MG: What are your thoughts on the events that took place at 112 Ocean Avenue?
EW: I believe that something very real occurred to the Lutz family that truly frightened them. I believe that they believed the house was haunted. I don’t believe their account was a complete hoax created for profit or attention, however there are inconsistencies that make it a difficult picture. How many of their stories were real or possibly elaborated upon, no one will ever know. Their accounts have been lost in over 35 years of misinformation about the story and media exposure that have clouded the truth. This is why I felt it very necessary to allow Daniel Lutz to speak openly in the film, giving him an objective stage to do so. In many ways, I think his account has only deepened the mystery.

MG: How did you get in touch with Daniel Lutz?
EW: proved to be the calling card for what became “My Amityville Horror.” I was contacted by a contractor in the New York area who claimed to be a friend of Daniel Lutz. Despite being very intrigued, I didn’t necessarily believe this man’s claims until I was able to see a picture of Daniel. After this, I knew this had to be him and I went about engaging in conversation with them. In 2009, I traveled to New York and conducted nearly 12 hours of audio recordings with Daniel.

MG: Tell us about your experience working with him.
EW: Working with Daniel has been very challenging at times. He’s very angry and difficult to approach at first. My immediate impression was that his willingness to speak to me was almost therapy for him — a way of unburdening himself of these stories that have lived inside his head for over 35 years. He was struggling to differentiate his point-of-view from the public’s perception of the story. Many of his memories seem to be skewed by the media fiction that surrounds these events. The subject of memory came heavily into play when listening to his account. For me, this started to transcend the Amityville topic and touch on a broader issue – the challenge of someone attempting to comprehend the unexplained. That’s what I hope people really take away from the film. This is something that has psychologically damaged and impacted this person. Whether it’s true or not, he believes it’s true.

MG: Some of the questions you approach him with are quite tough—were you ever concerned about that?
EW: There’s such intensity with him about this topic that I was constantly aware of how far to push him on certain questions. I never shied away from asking hard questions, but it was process of being conscious of when to ask certain things. He definitely does not like discussing Amityville and becomes very tense and angry when exploring those dark areas of his childhood. Looking back, I’m amazed I was able to capture as much as did within the film.

MG: What was your biggest challenge with working on the documentary?
EW: I’d have to say bringing all of the subjects together into one film was the greatest challenge. We tried very hard to interview Daniel’s other two siblings, but there’s such pain surrounding this time in their life, the remaining family members choose not to speak about it anymore. As filmmakers, we had to respect this, but it’s difficult because you desire that corroboration for the film. They seemed to have moved on from it more than Daniel apparently has. For me, obtaining all of the necessary witness testimony was the greatest challenge in producing this film.

MG: What do you have planned next?
EW: I’m currently in development on another feature documentary concept. The realm of the unexplained is what fuels my desire to make films, so I plan to stay in this field of study. I’m very interested in the combination of narrative and documentary and how these styles can be used to enhance the storytelling process. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to explore a variety of different subjects in the future and expanding my palette of work.

Film Review "My Amityville Horror"

Director: Eric Walter
Starring: Daniel Lutz, Laura DiDio, Neme Alperstein
Distributed by: IFC Films
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 86 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Growing up less than 10 minutes away from “The Amityville Horror” house, I have always been interested in this “haunted house”.  We used to take trips to the house numerous times throughout the year. Was it real? Was it a fake? Either way it is still history and has influenced everything from books to films over the last almost 40 years.  This film is a very intimate chat with Daniel Lutz, who was 10 years old when him and his family moved into the house after the murders that took place just 13 months before. “My Amityville Horror is a well-crafted documentary and an interesting look into the life of Daniel Lutz both past and present. Fans of “Amityville Horror”, should definitely check it out.

Official Premise: For the first time in 35 years, Daniel Lutz recounts his version of the infamous Amityville haunting that terrified his family in 1975. George and Kathy Lutz’s story went on to inspire a best-selling novel and the subsequent films have continued to fascinate audiences today. This documentary reveals the horror behind growing up as part of a world famous haunting and while Daniel’s facts may be other’s fiction, the psychological scars he carries are indisputable.

The interviews with Lutz, who is now in his 40’s, are very honest. He seems very damaged from his experience but then again who wouldn’t be. There is also no bullshitting with this guy. You can tell that he has a hard time talking about his experience.  If you are looking for any secrets revealed, this film doesn’t offered any new evidence or information.  But I found it very interesting to hear it first had from someone that lived through the events that occurred to the Lutz family. Whether they are true or not, I would like to think that they were true. I mean you almost feel bad for this guy but he does tell his story quite well.