Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Amityville Redux

Only the most credulous among us still believe that the story of what happened to Lutz family inside their house located in Amityville, Long Island, is true.  However, the hoax wasn't exposed for several years after the publication of Jay Anson's phenomenally successful bestseller, The Amityville Horror, which gave birth to a movie of the same name.  By that time, the story had reached millions, and they couldn't be bothered with something as mundane as the truth.  Part of the delicious thrill of reading the book and getting the bajeezus scared out of one, was the creepy "non-fiction" designation on the spine.  Though the book is a very entertaining read, in 1979, two years after the book's publication and subsequent rise to bestseller status, lawyer William Weber confessed that the entire story had been cooked up by him and George Lutz over a bottle of Merlot.  Weber had been the lawyer for Ronald DeFeo, who annihilated his family in the house in 1974.  Weber apparently was willing to grasp at any straw to get a new trial for his client, or a reduced sentence.  Lutz was suffering under an enormous mortgage payment he wanted to get out from under ($80,000 in '70's money--with interest rates at 16%). 

Jay Anson put the brew into print and caused an international sensation.  Then came the movie with Margot Kidder and James Brolin--a not very good movie that spawned a bevvy of mediocre sequels.  Now the story gets a new treatment, with state of the art Hollywood effects, for those who were not yet born when the original was released.

One more thing--did you ever notice the similarities between The Amityville Horror and The Shining?  Both center around gothic, haunted structures, ghosts of families which have been murdered, and most coincidentally, a father who is possessed and goes gradually insane.  Both books were published in 1977.

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