In December 1975, George and Kathleen Lutz and their three children moved into 112 Ocean Avenue, a large Dutch Colonial house in Amityville, a suburban neighborhood located on the south shore of Long Island, New York. Thirteen months before the Lutzes moved in, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. had shot and killed six members of his family at the house. After 28 days, the Lutzes left the house, claiming to have been terrorized by paranormal phenomena while living there.
Jay Anson (November 4, 1921 – March 12, 1980) was an American author whose most famous work was The Amityville Horror. After the runaway success of that novel, he wrote 666, which also dealt with a haunted house.
He began as a copy boy on the New York Evening Journal in 1937 and later worked in advertising and publicity. With more than 500 documentary scripts for television to his credit, he was associated with Professional Films, Inc. He died in 1980.
His work, The Amityville Horror, was sold as "a true story," and it was based on the reported experiences of George Lutz and Kathleen Lutz at 112 Ocean Avenue in December 1975. The Lutzes had sold the rights to the book to Anson, who had added to and adapted some of the Lutz's original claims. A film was later made of the book, which exemplified these additions.
This is the first time I’ve read a book for Halloween. I was familiar with the story, having previously watched the films, but never read the book until now!
It was scarier than the films and reads like an addictive novel. Much has been said about whether these events were a hoax, but I don’t really care. The Amityville Horror does what it says, and provides the scares. It gave me goosebumps. I wasn’t a fan of my house making strange creaking sounds at night while reading either!
The book follows the events of the Lutz family, who move into 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville. They purchase it on the cheap, due to its tragic history. Ronald DeFeo Jr. had previously killed his 6 family members in the house. Hint: if looking to purchase a property and neighbours' shades are drawn on all the sides facing said house (but not other directions), it’s probably best to look elsewhere.
Because weird stuff will probably start happening.
“The blankets on the bed had been virtually torn from their bodies, leaving George and Kathy shivering. All the windows in the room were wide open, and the bedroom door, caught by the drafts, was swinging back and forth.”
It gets you thinking about the history of a house. Could you live in a house where six people were murdered? Could you sleep in the same bedroom they died in? As someone who grew up in a haunted house, even I have to draw the line somewhere. I certainly wouldn’t start dipping my finger in random green slime emanating from walls and licking it.
The Amityville Horror has great pacing. It’s simply told, and while it won’t win any literary awards, it’s effective at telling a story. The narrative follows crazy happenings in the house, while also following the story of Father Mancuso, who was tasked with blessing the residence.
“When he flicked the first holy water and uttered the words that accompany the gesture, Father Mancuso heard a masculine voice say with terrible clarity: ‘Get out!’”
The poor bloke was basically sick the whole time after visiting. His storyline became tedious after a while, but it did help break-up the unrelenting scares within the house. The list of crazy stuff happening was never-ending. I’m amazed they tolerated as much as they did for 28 days.
“There, floating two feet above the bed, was Kathy. She was slowly drifting away from him towards the windows!”
Yeah, no thanks.
I enjoyed the 70s setting and for someone who doesn’t usually read horror, I came to enjoy the scares. Who thought marching band music could be creepy? I’ll never look at a pig the same way again, and remain convinced that kids’ drawings are one of the most effective horror devices.
I think there’s no doubt that tragedy occurred in this house and that creepy things took place. How much of the latter is true? I don’t know, but it makes one hell of a story. If you enjoy the likes of The Exorcist, The Conjuring films (or just want some scares), then this is a must-read.
OK, folks, for the last time, here's the real story.
1. On 13 November 1974, a murder occurred in the home known as "High Hopes," located at what was then 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York. The victims of the crime were the DeFeo family: Ronald Sr., Louise, and four of their five children; Dawn, Allison, Mark and John.
2. Ronald "Butch" DeFeo, Jr., eldest son of the DeFeo family, burst into a local bar in town that night around 6:30PM, asking for help.
3. Butch DeFeo was later tried for and found guilty of the murders of his family, and was sentenced to the Green Haven Penitentiary. Every attempt DeFeo has made to be granted parole has been rejected, he is serving consecutive life sentences. DeFeo turns 56 years old next week (09/26/07).
4. The house was resold following the murders and probate. Among the owners since the murders were a couple named George and Kathy Lutz, who occupied the house in late 1975. The Lutzes later collaborated with an author to write this "true account" of their stay in the house. Mrs. Lutz has since passed away from cancer.
5. No other owner of the property has complained of psychic disturbance, hauntings, paranormal activity, or any other issues with the house. The novels which followed this one claim the house is located on a Native American burial ground. No local tribe has substantiated this claim.
6. Due to unwanted publicity, the house has been painted and the number changed to avoid onlookers.
The murders happened, folks. They're real, they were tragic. There are some odd inconsistencies about them. But that is IT. There is NOTHING to substantiate any possession, haunting, demonology, incest, or anything else suggested in this book. It is a work of fiction, which the Lutz's lawyer later suggested they dreamed up after a night of drinking. If you want a book about a haunting, go find a good telling of the story of the Bell Witch (verified by a President of the United States) or read the "Weird" series, edited by Mark Moran. This is just nonsense. There is no basement door to hell in a quiet Long Island suburb. Sorry to disappoint everyone.
Let's pause for a minute and laugh out loud at the fact that this stupid book was in the nonfiction section of my library.
HAAAAAA HAHAHA HA. HA. HAAAAAA
OK, I think that's good. Wait....
HAHAHAHAHAAAAAA OH MAN! HAHA'
That's not why it gets one lousy star anyway. It gets one star because I think it was written by a twelve year old. The writing was so bad that it distracted me from the absolutely ridiculous story. There was just no life in the story at all. I mean, the ghosts described in the book were more alive than this tired, boring (fake, yeah I said it) story. My God, man, at least use a few adjectives here and there. Give me some description of who these people are and why I should care. If this is supposed to be horrifying, why does it feel like you just learned how to write a paragraph?
First, people moved into a house. Second, weird things happened to them. After that, they were scared to live there. Finally, you won't believe what happened next! End of chapter cliffhanger and oh my goodness can you believe what's happening? You can't? Wow! I can't either because it didn't! And even if this was in the fiction section it wouldn't be worth your time because it feels like a story a bunch of Boy Scouts tell each other around a campfire, not something to actually read.
That's the gist of the story with minor embellishments. Minor.
Perhaps if someone else wrote this book, I may have cared a little more. I don't know. I don't care.
Happy Halloween everyone! Pick a different book to scare you this year.
Loved it. More than I should have, probably. A brilliant way to write a novel (yes, let's just admit this is a novel). The matter-of-fact, journalistic tone used to describe horrific events expertly aided the 'realism' façade, and it made for great storytelling. Toward the end the pacing went off and turned into kitchen sink horror (just throw everything out there!) but it still worked. The ending 'Afterward' was genius and is likely why this classic endures and continues to inspire a whole subgenre of horror.
If you've seen one of the zillion Amityville movies but haven't read the book, you're missing out. It's a different and wholly enjoyable experience.
I confess, I am SO glad to be done with this book. I had to take it in just a couple chapters at a time, it just felt so overwhelmingly dark. The fact that the demons (whatever they were) didn't just throw things around the house to creep the family out, they actually affected the family members' individual personalities and seemed to truly bring out the worst in their humanity. This aspect, to me, was the most disturbing.
Though I never plan to read this book again and will promptly be donating my copy to my local library, I still rated it high because, as a horror book, it did its job amazingly well. It's well written and very unnerving, so despite me not actually liking it very much, it wasn't the book's fault. It was simply how it stayed in my mind.
I did some research after finishing the book and families have proceeded to live in the home for several years at a time with no reported issues. Being that the Lutzes didn't jump on the popularity train after all this, trying to book tv show and book deals, and instead they simply disappeared to live life in peace, I can't agree with those who believe they made it all up.
112 Ocean Ave. Amityville, Long Island, New York. Spooky!!
Flies, slime, black water, foul rotten smell, static sound when calling a priest, waking up at 3:15 AM every day... 😬 Why stay? 28 days is way too long!
I end up reading online articles and watching Youtube videos because of the controversy that this story is a hoax. The funny thing is, I didn't know it was "real" and thought the author had a unique way of telling the story like a true crime novel. I really liked it.
Overall, this book was entertaining and a quick haunted house story. There are many movies out there with "Amityville" in the title, but the only one I saw was with Ryan Reynolds (2005) which I thought was a solid scary movie.
I will start this review at the end . . . or, what I did after the end.
I knew some about The Amityville Horror from pop culture. I don’t think I have ever seen the movie all the way through, but I have seen parts of it. I am familiar with the house with windows like Jack O’ Lantern eyes. I knew it was a tale of possession and haunting. A story of terrors beyond imagination – terrors that only usually exist in the imagination of horror writers and filmmakers. But this really happened!
Or . . . did it?
When I was done, I started looking around the internet to get as much follow-up research on what really happened at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York in the mid-1970s . . .
Without saying too much, it seems like there is a lot of disagreement and debate about how true this story is. Sure, some of the incidents forming the foundation are 100% based in truth. But, beyond that . . . I wonder if we will ever know or society as a whole will ever agree (but, do they ever agree on anything). The book is certainly narrated as if it is all true – which lends to the creepiness and suspense . . . which is as it should be. So, if you are going in looking for non-fiction, you may leave still a bit skeptical. But, if you are just looking for a good and scary time, it should serve you well.
All of that aside, it is a pretty entertaining and harrowing tale of demons/restless spirits who just can’t leave the people in their house alone. It is a great book if you are looking for a quick tale for a dark and chilly evening in October. I really think the only thing that could ruin it for a fan of horror and hauntings would be if you lean too much on whether it is really true or not. For me, I liked learning about the background, but when it came to enjoying it, I just let the horror of it all take me away.
Trick or Treat of a different kind for spooktober!!!
The true story of the haunting and supernatural events at Amityville House inspired a book and the book then inspired a film, as the events at Long Island gripped a nation.
However, the original book blurb said, “A fascinating and frightening book” (Los Angeles Times)—the bestselling true story about a house possessed by evil spirits…”, turned out to be nothing more than a horror story concocted over a few bottles of wine. Yes here we have the ‘Trick’.
Now for the ‘Treat’. Once you get your head into the space that this was a fabricated story, which I for one found difficult because I had been brainwashed into believing this was a true story, then you could actually enjoy the book as a friendly dose of fictional horror that delivered a lot of what you need for spooky month.
I liked the writing style that attempted to create the feeling of a factual story. Whilst it didn't scare the big girls pants of me, it brought something different and I certainly had a few bejesus moments when my imagination ran away with me.
In all, it was haunting, creepy, atmospheric and spine tingling but good not brilliant.
A short review - on hiatus. There are plenty of reviews out there that contain the plot so I will not write again here. 3 for the story and the sensation this book created. Clever marketing!!!
This "true" story is about as scary as a Ke$ha/Charlie Sheen lovechild. It's terrifying... but it's not the baby's fault. It was created out of a union of glitter-vomit and Tiger Blood. Mama SLutz is an attention whore just in it for the money and notoriety, and Daddy is a talentless hack who just spouts random words emphatically and claims they make sense. It's like it was written by a 12 year old with ADD and then edited by someone who speaks English as a 2nd language... and started taking the classes just yesterday! Exclamation point! But hey, they did something right, because I just read this pile of steaming poo! Exclamation point!
So let me tell you about the book, m'kay? There's this family called the sLutzes. They moved into this house on the 18th of December - no the 23rd of December - no the 18th of December because when they moved out on January 14th that was 28 days and Jay Anson can count, yayyyy! Exclamation point!
So the Putzes SLutzes - Wait. Did we meet Father Frank yet? Father Frank has a BAD FEELING. And then he gets sick with the flu a lot and that makes him feel bad! So then the SLutzes move in on the 18th-23rd-18th of December and then weird stuff starts happening in their house like the windows opening and it being cold. They have money problems and can't afford their boat or their wardrobe but never go to work. Also Officer Gionfriddo is the most badass ninja policeman! Exclamation point! He can drive down the street and totally not see that guy going into the WITCHES' BREW until 50 feet after he passes him, and then recognize his beard, the way he walks, and the shape of his body! Crouching Gionfriddo, Hidden Ninja! Multiple Exclamation Points!! HIGH SCORE!
Father Frank had blisters on his hands.
Then there was a lion.
Then George was all like "LET MY PEOPLE GO!" and then Gionfriddo sat quietly in his police car with the lights off watching in a non-creeper way while George acted all "like a lunatic" but later Gionfriddo said it was OK because they were closing the windows so he drove away with his lights off... totally not like a creeper, I said!
Jodie says he's an angel but he's really a BEAST! RUN! Then there is a storm and they are TRAPPED IN THE HOUSE except for when they got in the car to go to the doctor's office for some band-aids and baby tylenol. Also, call Father Frank.
Then they moved out and then the story was over except when they levitated some more and then moved to California where levitation is illegal.
Congratulations. You've now read The Amityville Horror.
Scared the pants off me — but hey, I was 14 or 15 so it didn’t take much to scare me.
I remember not being able to watch the movie so I thought I was so smart borrowing the book from a friend whose Mom was less rigid about her reading choices (pretty sure I borrowed Alive! from her too—lol) than mine was.
However, my Mom would have had the last laugh (had she known I was reading forbidden literary contraband). I’m pretty sure I skimmed to the end so I could return the creepy book to its owner before I was questioned about sleeping with the lights on…
This was a re-read for me. I read it back in the late 70's when it first came out, and even then I didn't think it was that great. Now, I was compelled to finish, but if it weren't for Ray Porter's narration I might not have.
This isn't great writing, but the story is interesting as hell. All these years later I'm still wondering how much of this actually happened.
Esta es mi primera relectura del libro (seguramente más adelante lo vuelva a releer). Es uno de esos libros que SIEMPRE consideré de los más aterradores que he leído. Si bien me sigue pareciendo aterrador, la experiencia de relectura fue diferente a aquella primera lectura. Sobre todo, me sorprendió la escritura, no recordaba que estuviera narrado de forma tan sencilla. Lo recordaba un poco más condimentado, no tan directo. Creo que el hecho de que todo vaya tan al grano sin vueltas hace que la lectura de este libro resulte mil veces más ligera. Los eventos que se narran no dejan de sorprenderme (siempre hablando en términos de ficción), todo pasa con tanta regularidad, no da respiro. Siempre pensé que la clave para disfrutar mejor este libro es pensarlo simplemente como una novela, y no como una crónica sobre "hechos reales".
Terminé este libro anoche durante una buena tormenta, y hacía bastante que no experimentaba algo tan intenso con una historia. Puedo contar con una sola mano todos los libros que alguna vez me causaron escalofríos, y me sobran tres dedos. Literalmente, "It" de Stephen King fue el que más miedo me dio, y actualmente sumo a la lista "The Amityville Horror".
Tiene una lectura super ágil por el hecho de que narra puntualmente las situaciones, sin demasiado decorado, la forma en la que sucedieron, de qué manera lo vieron y vivieron los Lutz. Aproveché a leer este libro durante unos días en los que permanecí sola en casa durante la noche, y sinceramente fue de las mejores experiencias que pude tener. Me resulta muy impresionante desde un comienzo, cuando narra el trágico suceso con los DeFeo (partiendo de la base de que ese tipo de casos me ponen los pelos de punta, sin excepción), y luego la aparición de los Lutz, quienes inocentemente acceden a un ofertón, y adquieren la casona que tanto secreto hórrido encierra. Las cosas que van a pasar a partir de ese momento son terribles, y debo admitir que me sentí particularmente afectada con Jodie.
El libro no me ha decepcionado en lo absoluto, si bien no logró quitarme el sueño, sí me dificultó su lectura por contener tantos momentos tenebrosos que me dejaban sin habla. Además, experimenté algunos sucesos "extraños" durante la lectura del mismo, pero eso lo voy a dejar para la videoreseña. Recomiendo ampliamente a cualquier amante del terror, a mi me ha dejado fascinada, y ni de cerca las películas se acercan al verdadero horror que transmite el libro.
"Do you think it's haunted?" "No way, I don't believe in ghosts.”
It seems the reading world is clearly divided about this book. The common question obviously being: is this actually true? I would like to add another question to the equation: does it actually matter?
To some extent, it does. The extent to which this novel will scare you correlates directly to (a)whether you believe the events depicted here are true and (b) your religious orientation. Personally, I’m still reserving judgement on just how “true” everything in here may or may not be. The spine classification says “non-fiction” but we’ve long since learnt not to believe everything we read. The book did create a storm of controversy, and I’d be very surprised if it hadn’t. It’s just that kind of book.
Something that did occur to me while reading this was the old adage: “Where there’s smoke…”
"I'm worried about what could happen next. Why don't you just get out of that house for a while?"
Then again: take a step back and look at the book from a different point of view. How many other similar stories have you read, which you absolutely knew was fiction, and it still scared the living daylights out of you? It needn’t be a wasted opportunity – you have an imagination, don’t you?
I will say this for the subject matter: if stories like The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby scared you, this book will too. Of that I don’t have much doubt. If the events depicted here are in fact true, this book’s creep-factor skyrockets through the roof.
”There's something in our room!"
I enjoyed the book well enough. From a literary point of view, however, the writing is very workmanlike and matter-of-factual and, frankly, just a bit bland. It adds to the feeling of realism, but a few dramatic flourishes would have made the whole thing a bit more enjoyable! And let’s be honest, there are scenes that come across as a bit hokey. Still – it’s a fairly solid three stars.
”We’re trapped. It’s not going to let us go.”
In closing. If you are one of those people who would normally skip the Foreword and Afterword of a book, it is important in the case of The Amityville Horror to actually read it, just to get some perspective. Yes, even if you think it’s hogwash.
The Amityville Horror is a book whose reviews are all over the place. On my friends list I have ratings from 1 to 5 stars all across the board. I wasn't sure where I would fall in relation to my GR buddies.
I listened to this one on audio as it was one of the 3 books that appealed to me and was available through OverDrive. It was a quick listen and I really enjoyed the narration.
I watched the movie in my teens and there have been so many of them made I really don’t know which one I watched or how good of an interpretation it was. To be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot. I remember the basement opening up to Hell and a little girl standing on the top of the roof. Other than that? Not a whole heck of a lot.
Clearly it left a lasting impression…. ;)
I liked the way the narrative was broken up. You get the story from a few different sources. There is the interview with the family who experienced it. There is the view of the investigator taking their statement. And there is the view of the priest that was afflicted with flu-like symptoms after trying to rid the house of evil spirits.
It was a unique story and one that has probably been called into question since it was told. The history of the house and the mystery behind what actually happened there is part of the allure of THIS book. And I could see why others might think they made it all up.
Sometimes there are things that are beyond explanation. There are things that cannot be explained. There are things that make us question the higher powers of the universe ; they make us question our own beliefs.
I did enjoy the book and especially the narration. I still haven't made up my own mind as to what I believe and what I don’t. But this is a book that will resonate with me.
The weird part of me is that reading a book like this knowing it is a real place makes me want to go buy the house and see what happens. Jeff, what do you think? Time for a change of scenery? I hear the basement down there is something forespecial!
في اليوم الثالت عشر من نوفمبر عام ١٩٧٤ هرع الشاب (روني ديفو) لحانة في ضاحيته ليصرخ في الجميع أن جميع أفراد أسرته قتلى. يجد رجال الشرطة جميع أفراد عائلة ديفو الستة قتلى بطلقات نارية في أسرّتهم، ويِذكر أنهم وجدوا مستلقيين على بطونهم ورؤوسهم في أوسدتهم..قلتهم روني أثناء نومهم.
قال الصبي أن الله حدثه لوقتٍ طويل وأخبره أن لزامًا عليه قتل جميع أفراد أسرته، أجرت محاكمة حاول محامي الشاب أن يقنع القضاء بإعطائه حكم مخفف لجنونه، لم تقتنع المحكمة بذلك، تم الحكم على الشاب بست أحكام مختلفة مدة كل حكم منها ٢٥ عامًا، ويقضي حياته في مصحة عقلية في حبس مشدد حتى يومنا هذا.
تحكي الرواية قصة أسرة جديدة سعيدة وجدت المنزل الضخم صفقة رابحة بالتأكيد، تمت الصفقة والانتقال إليه..قضوا ثمانية وعشرين يومًا هناك، في اليوم الثامن والعشرين فروا رعبًا.
رواية مقبضة مختلفة تحكي الأهوال التي مرت بها الأسرة المنكوبة الجديدة التي لم يبق أحدهم في حالٍ طبيعية طوال فترة إقامتهم، حتى كلبهم الوفي المسكين
أحب أن أشير للترجمة شديدة السلاسة لبسمة الخولي، مترجمة قادمة بقوة ولو أن الرواية كانت بحاجة لمراجعة حقيقية، لكن هذا لم ينقص من سلاسة الرواية مطلقًا وكأنك تقرأ عملًا كتب بالعربية.
في نهاية الرواية ورد اسمي الزوجين صائدي الأشباح الشهيرين الذين تم إنتاج قضاياهم لسلسة أفلام the conjuring الشهيرة، حيث كان المنزل أحد قضاياهم، قيل في الرواية أنهم فضلوا ألا يسكن أحد في المنزل حيث أن لا قبل لأحد لاحتواء الشر الكامن بين جدرانه.
في النهاية، إن تجاهلت كل العلامات وقررت شراء منزل بتاريخ دموي، ووجدت حيوانك الأليف في حالة لا تشبه نفسه، وبدأت طباع أطفالك المهذبين في التغير وبدأت ابنتك في الحديث عن الملاك على شكل الخنزير الذي يزورها ويحدثها بأنها ستبقى في المنزل للأبد حتى تشارك الطفل الميت القاطن في غرفتها اللعب، إن استيقظت ووجدت زوجتك النائمة متدلية في وضع صليب مقلوب وتسري في الهواء بإتجاه النافذة، لو توقف القس عن مساعدتك لمرض بشع ألم به عندما خطا لمنزلك الجديد ليباركه، إن أخبرتك زوجتك أن هناك طيفًا ودودًا ذو رائحة عطر نفاذة يحتضن كتفيها في المطبخ، لا تكن أحمقًا آخر، ابق حيًا.
I am not a huge fan of horror, but this book comes to mind as one of the most terrifying (at least for me). I distinctly remember reading this as a teen and not being able to put it down until I had finished it at 3:00 in the morning. Part of this was being unable to sleep if it was still on my mind.
My wife and i are very familiar with the Amityville horror case. We watch ghost stuff all the time my wife is a sensitive believer and I'm a sceptic who wants to believe. This is a VERY famous case. We have seen many reports shows including the behind-the-scenes drama. My wife is a huge Elaine and Ed warren fan they work on the aftermath of the event in the book.
Why 2 stars well the book is not that good or convincing. It was meant to be scary but i was hardly scared. I believe it was terrifying in its day. With demons and the house shouting "GET OUT". They change somethings in from the movie which is scarier than the book. The other things I've seen on the Amityville horror recently have been much better I'll leave it at that.
A combination of me knowing the case so well that this bored me a little… and the fact that it’s poorly written. Meh. I’m disappointed! (Bonus exclamation marks since Anson loved them so much!!!! Gah!!!!)
I don’t even know where to begin. I fear this may be a long, chaotic mess of thoughts, so please bear with me, or skim, or totally ignore.
I’ve always been fascinated with the occult. The Exorcist (both the book and the movie, RIP Mr. Blatty) scared the hell out of me, pardon the pun. It still does. Every. Single. Time. And I love being scared. I love horror movies, haunted houses, Ouija boards (even though my husband forbids them), and Halloween. I love Halloween so much it’s my wedding anniversary.
My freshman year of college, I was a moron. I had an English class where I had to write a basic research paper on anything I wanted. I chose exorcism. Why? Moron.
Fascination is one thing; belief is another. I didn’t actually believe all this stuff; I just liked reading about it. All my research during that semester long assignment pointed to one book, Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans by Malachi Martin. I was nineteen. This was before the internet and Amazon. I actually had to check books out of physical buildings called libraries. I had to find Hostage to the Devil…and I couldn’t. It had mysteriously vanished from every library within 100 miles of my college. My dad happened to find a copy in some little secondhand bookstore, and when he told the bookseller who it was for and why, the guy actually tried to convince him not to buy it.
But I’m stubborn, and my dad knew, one way or another, I'd find it. He bought it anyway. At the risk of unintentionally reviewing Hostage too, I’ll just say…I kind of wish he would have listened. That book messed me up. I didn’t sleep for weeks. I was on edge. Things happened in my college apartment I couldn’t explain. I managed to turn in an incomplete paper, and my professor took pity on me. He gave me a “B” and told me to get some sleep.
For at least a decade after that taxing English class, I wouldn’t go near this stuff. But time has a way of minimizing even the most frightening memories, and looking back, I’m convinced I was just sleep deprived and hormonal.
So here we are. I read Amityville, finally. Not just any Amityville, but a used battered paperback that looks like it holds its own demons. Was it scary? Not particularly—at least not when compared to The Exorcist. Plus, to be able to read the faded print, I had the room lit up like noon in August. Was it good? Definitely. And for someone interested in the occult, it is, in fact, fascinating. If you look at the reviews, it seems the people who believe the Lutz's account rate it much higher than the people who don’t. I went into this thinking I'd be impartial; I’d just rate it as a work of fiction and leave it at that. Easier said than done, because the entire way through, I questioned everything. Did this stuff really happen? If they were lying, what was their motive? How do you explain the testimony of respected corroborating witnesses like Father Mancuso and the local police force? It was impossible for me to read this simply as a work of fiction, and to review it, I had to look at it from all angles. The writing, the storytelling. Fact vs. fiction. The phenomenon, the controversy, the legacy. As a whole, it's kind of brilliant.
Should you read it? If you’re into this kind of stuff? Absolutely! I wanted to go big, thus the creepy looking paperback, but if you really want to be scared…read the e-book version. Alone at night. With the lights out.
Me ha gustado y me ha resultado perturbador ya que se supone que ocurrió en REALIDAD!! Si que es cierto que la forma en que está escrito puede ser poco novelesco ya que se ha escrito de manera como si fuera o un diario con varias voces ( GEORGE, SU MUJER Y "EL PADRE"MANCUSO) o bien como si fuera casi una noticia ya que el autor tomó las notas de las cintas que grabó de conversaciones que tuvo con los protagonistas. Como he leído en alguna reseña es un libro periodístico. Un estilo que puede no gustar. Esta es la sinopsis: El matrimonio Lutz y sus tres hijos se trasladan a vivir al 112 de Ocean Avenue en Amityville, sin importarle lo más mínimo que en aquella casa se produjera, hace tan sólo un año, un brutal asesinato: una noche, y sin motivo alguno, Ronald DeFeo disparó a la espalda de cada uno de los miembros de su familia con su rifle, mientras dormían en sus camas. Durante veintiocho días, los Lutz experimentarán una serie de extraños sucesos tanto en la casa (frío glacial, viscosidades en las paredes, ventanas arrancadas del quicio, puertas que se abren y se cierran, dinero que desaparece) como en ellos mismos (presencias invisibles que los tocan, levitaciones, cambios de carácter...), presumiblemente de naturaleza demoníaca, que irán haciendo insoportable su permanencia en la casa. De igual modo, el padre Mancuso, que bendijo el nuevo hogar de los Lutz cuando comenzaron a vivir en allí, padecerá en sus propias carnes la diabólica influencia de algo sobrenatural e inexplicable.
Ignore the overshadowing debate about whether or not it actually happened, and you're left with one of the most finely crafted haunted house stories ever written. The narrative is so solid, so matter-of-fact, that one cannot argue with it. This is how it happened, the book says, and what happened was horrifying. The feel is perfect, the book carries an ominous feeling from the first to the last page, much like the house on Ocean Avenue itself. Forget any of the cash-in novels or films, this is a powerful, frightening masterpiece of horror. It takes a second place only to Jack Ketchum's "The Girl Next Door" as the scariest book I have ever read.
This is bad in so many ways. First, it is fiction masquerading as fact. The story of this hoax is out there enough so I don't have to repeat it but the evidence should convince all but the most ardent true believer that this "true story", with the exception of the original DeFeo murder, was totally fabricated. Second, it is really terrible fiction. I am convinced that Mr. Anson had some kind of encyclopedia on hauntings and as he flipped through it he said, "Swarm of flies? I'll put that on page twenty-two. Cold spots? page eleven." It is so sloppily put together and badly written that I'm sure Mr. Anson realized it would be no more than a bottom shelf remainder unless there was some juicy "real" paranormal tie-in. Please don't waste your time with this. There are some perfectly good books out there on paranormal sightings and lots of great haunted house novels like Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House or Richard Matheson's Hell HousE that will thrill you. And just for the record, all of those Amityville movies suck too. Don't ask me why I bothered to watch them after hating the book so much. I guess I'm a masochist.
Now that I have seen The Amityville Horror film (1979), watched numerous documentaries on the house, and read the book, I can safely say that the best "adaptation" of the Amityville story will always be My Amityville Horror (2013). This is a documentary following one of the Lutz children - now an adult - and shows what the he remembers from his time at 112 Ocean Ave in Amityville, NY. What we get is not exactly what one would expect from a documentary about the Amityville house. Instead, it is a deep psychological study about an attention-hungry family hellbent on making a mark for themselves by exploiting their "haunted" home and the tragic events that occurred there.
Was the house actually haunted? The Lutz child believes so, even to this day. But he is also a man with mental damage and intense anger issues, one who believes his abusive stepfather was an evil man who practiced witchcraft to provoke the Amityville spirits. This adds a whole new layer of mystery and fascination onto the Amityville happening, showing that there might be more to the story than what meets the eye.
Unfortunately, The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson is nowhere near as intriguing. What we get is a dry account of what George and Kathleen Lutz claim to have happened during their time living in this house. It's your standard haunted house story; a happy American family moves into their dream-home, but when creepy shit starts happening, they discover that their dream-home isn't so dreamy after all.
Of course, George and Kathleen Lutz are not portrayed as being the money-hungry, abusive, manipulative people that their son later described them as being in My Amityville Horror, nor is George a practitioner of the dark arts. Instead, they are described as being an average married couple, doing whatever they can to keep their children safe.
Listen, while I do believe in ghosts, I don't know what's true and what isn't about this story. There are so many conflicting testimonies and details. For example, at the end of this book, Anson says that after the Lutz family moved out of 112 Ocean Avenue, Kathleen Lutz never spoke of the events again. This is bullshit. Anson said only a few pages prior that Kathleen gave a detailed re-accounting of her story in preparation of this book. Also, Mr. and Mrs. Lutz appeared on TV on multiple occasions to promote their story and it's many adaptations. They made a helluva lot of bank by being in the spotlight. Neither of them retreated into the shadows, hiding from whatever forces haunted them at the Amityville house. They definitely exploited their story, and what's not to say they didn't exaggerate the details, twist the truth, or flat-out lie about the whole thing?
Honestly, this is what makes The Amityville Horror so interesting. While the book itself is dry and not very scary (minus the pig-thing, which is quite terrifying), there are so many conflicting stories that keep me intrigued in the Lutz family and what really went on behind those closed doors. I guess we'll never know for sure, but one thing is for certain; the Lutz family certainly made their mark in our culture, whether they were trying to or not.
Okayish. The book was about the real life experience of Lutz family who bought and moved into a house in Amityville, the house where DeFoe murdered his whole family recently (but hey, who cares about that! The house is such a bargain 🎉). The book wasn't that scary, except for the last few pages. It was quite entertaining though!!!
About 15 years ago I picked up a copy of this book and had to put it down indefinitely. It was slowly creeping me out, and when I got to the part where George Lutz sees a creepy pig behind his daughter in her bedroom window in the middle of the night I said "nope". However, I kept the book, because I knew one day I would finish it. Yesterday was that day, and I really wish I hadn't bothered.
I was in my twenties the first time I tried to read this, and although I was reading a lot of horror, for some reason this one got to me. It takes place the year I was born, and was written in 1977. I'm going to say right now that I don't believe these things actually happened to the Lutz family. I'm super skeptical, I always have been, and anytime something paranormal says "based on a true story" I know that writers are just trying to sensationalize a story. People love those tag lines. The fact that something so heinous could actually happen to people in real life is something that readers eat up. I take it with a grain of salt.
Should I address my problems with the writing first, or the story? Let's start with the writing.
Anson has this incredibly annoying habit of ending every dramatic sentence with an exclamation point. I'm sure people have been talking about this one since the book was released, but it's really unnecessary, and it actually takes a statement that could be rather chilling with just a simple period at the end and it makes it sound ridiculous. It's like when people use all caps and it sounds like they're screaming. Every time Anson used an exclamation point, I imaged him wide eyed, and gasping at the horror of the event he had just described. It diffuses all the tension, and by the end of the book it's comical.
Now, let's discuss the story. The Lutz family moves into 112 Ocean Avenue on December 18, 1975. On November 13, 1974, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo shot and killed his parents and 4 siblings as they slept in the house at 112 Ocean Avenue. The Lutzes know the house is the site of multiple murders, but they aren't superstitious, so they dismiss any worries over living in a house where violent murders occurred, and actually end up buying a number of pieces of furniture and appliances that were left behind after there was nobody alive to claim them. Which to me is gross and morbid, but whatever.
Practically from the moment they step into the house things get weird. I started reading this again at night, and the strange occurrences were actually still kinda creepy 15 years later. Things start small, so I can understand the Lutzes not feeling the need to flee in terror right away. George is constantly freezing, and spends hours feeding logs into the living room fireplace. He also wakes up every night at 3:15 on the dot and has a compulsion to check the boat house behind the home. Kathleen smells perfume in odd places, especially in the kitchen, where she begins to feel a "presence". Both parents are also quick to lose their tempers, and feel that their 3 children are acting out more. They were never easily angered before moving into the house. At this point, I'm invested. Things are quietly creepy, and when one night George goes out to the boat house and turns around to see his 5-year-old daughter standing in the window with a pig behind her, the creepy goes up a notch.
Sadly, and I'm sure there wouldn't be a book if this never happened, the crazy things that are happening in the house begin to escalate beyond what anyone would actually stay and allow to happen, and yet the Lutz family does stay, and bad things continue to befall them. A local priest even tells them to leave the house, and they don't listen to him. It's infuriating. Both George and Kathleen know that something is horribly wrong in their house, but they continue to try to ignore it, and put their own lives and the lives of their children in danger. The front door is inexplicably torn off the hinges. Both Lutzes see eyes in a window and run outside to find hoof prints in the snow. And a creepy secret room painted completely in red suddenly reeks of human feces. And these are just a few of the things that continue to happen. At one point George wakes up to find Kathleen levitating off the bed. And still they stay. For 28 days.
If the things that George and Kathleen Lutz claim happened to them at 112 Ocean Avenue really did happen, then I can't imagine any sane person who would stay in that house for 28 days. I get that the family was strapped for cash. I understand that George was having issues with his business and the IRS, but come on. If you believe that an entity or a demon is tormenting you in your home, and they did, because they repeatedly tried to get help from a priest, I have trouble believing that anyone would stay in that environment.
Like I said though, I'm a skeptic, and I always look for the holes in a story like this. I said I was disappointed that I bothered to finish this one, but maybe it's a good thing that I did. It's a good concept, I just don't believe that it actually happened the way the Lutzes claim it did. And I'm no longer creeped out by Jodie the pig. So bad writing and ridiculous circumstances aside, I'm glad I was finally able to put this story to rest.
This review is going to be everywhere, because right now, my mind is everywhere! I also think I’m a bit angry after reading this one…definitely not my typical reaction to books. I’m somehow a horror junkie who has never read this book or seen the movie. I vaguely knew it was a haunted house where murders took place, but in the ‘70s, that was common, right?
Anyway I bought this for a buck online, and finally pulled it out today. The beginning (and end) have notes from the author. These notes say the Lutz family was tired of the over-exaggerating and fantastical stories about what they went through, so they painstakingly narrated the true events on tape, and gave it to the author. On the cover (I seem to have gotten a copy from 1978) it says TRUE STORY. I was so ready to find out about this house!
A few days in (the family lived in the murder house for 28 days before “fleeing”), all I could think is this does not seem real. It feels like any other (fictional) horror book from this era. The stuff that was going on seemed so implausible, which I’m sure most ghost stories do, but this was beyond. I personally believe in ghosts, angels, spirits still living in ‘our world’. I completely believe in an afterlife, but I was having such a hard time believing all these things were true.
So I went to Google, and found some interesting facts. Several families (four?) have lived in the house since, and report nothing strange. The priest who was said to have blessed the house with holy water admitted that he did deal with the family’s situation over the phone, but he claims to have never actually been to the house.
The author repeatedly said that this taped tale was corroborated by that priest and the police, but the story has changed over time. The Lutz family did take lie detector tests, and the results said they were being truthful about their taped recordings, but it also seemed like they were having legal and financial problems that could have made them want to sell their story…and scary sells.
Basically, I don’t know what to think. Do I believe everything in the book happened exactly as it was depicted? Not at all. Do I think this family really experienced paranormal activity? I think it’s possible, but I also believe in mass hysteria, even if that mass is a family of five. This book left me with more questions than answers, and that’s so annoying. Even toned down by 50%, the events written would still be creepy. So why all the controversy and lawsuits about falsified information? Why isn’t this a completely true story?
On Goodreads, I noticed this is listed under both fiction and true crime genres. You can’t have it both ways, so I’m going with two stars. If the author had said “loosely based”, that’d be one thing, but the repeated insistence that everything is factual is bullshit. The author should’ve just written a horror story, because if this book was purely based in fiction, it would’ve been really good. Instead, it was a huge letdown.
UPDATE: I just watched the 1979 movie, and I wish I’d have just gone with that (damn, James Brolin was cute!). I’d recommend it over the book. I don’t think I’ll watch any sequels though. I have a huge pet peeve with movie sequels based on a book that had none.