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Feature: The Amityville Horror (2005)

Return to the House of Horror

House of fun? -- NO!

The stars and director of the remake of classic 1970s shocker The Amityville Horror talk about their new remake of the movie

It should have been a simple enough scene during filming of the remake of The Amityville Horror. The dénouement approaches – George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) has lost his mind to the house that his family moved into only weeks earlier. Now he is slowly stalking his wife and three children through the winding hallways of their home. But at the end of one take, seven-year-old Chloe Moretz, playing daughter Chelsea Lutz, slips on a stair and takes a bit of a tumble – it’s nothing nasty, but prompts director Andrew Douglas to rush to Moretz’s side and mutter, almost to himself, “This house…”

So it seems that this was another one of those Horror film sets that was pockmarked with lots of wacky events that give the feeling that, somehow, the cast and crew shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing. And, in fact, some weird stuff did take place on during the new production of Amityville, particularly around the large, ‘restored’ house in south-eastern Wisconsin, about 75 miles from Chicago, that’s standing in for the Long Island abode that became infamous nearly 30 years ago. Most of it involved occurrences nothing more sinister than the lights turning on in the middle of the night, although production designer Jennifer Williams, charged with finding an adequate house in the Chicago area, reports that the chosen home made its presence known even before it made the final cut.

“When I first walked into the house, it had some water damage, and it looked as though it was bleeding down the walls,” says Williams. “It was big, gooey, prickly streaks that were coming down the walls, and I went, ‘My God, it looks as though it’s bleeding... it’s incredible. It’s the right house.’”

Finding the right chez Amityville was as important for the movie as the casting of Reynolds (Blade: Trinity) and Melissa George (Alias) in telling the story of the Lutzes and what they dealt with. They moved into their ‘dream’ home, at 112 Ocean Drive, a week before Christmas in 1975 – and left in terror only 28 days later, leaving everything they owned in the place they claimed was possessed and filled with demons. The search for the proper house took weeks, and at one point the production had decided to build its own house on the bank of a Illinois lake. But then it began raining. “And it rained and it rained and it rained and it rained,” says Williams. “And finally the fish were spawning on the ground on our plot of land.” When the winning building was found, the family that owned it had to be talked into allowing their property to be used for the film. But the effort was more than worth it, says Brad Fuller, who co-produced the film with partner Michael Bay.

“We are trying to make the house a character, and it’s an important character,” says Fuller, who previously collaborated with Bay on another Horror remake, 2003’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. “This is really a story about a man who becomes obsessed with a house, and the house becomes obsessed with a man, and the repercussions – the horror – that comes from that.”

by Dave Waldon

Get the full interview in
Shivers #118

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd, Amityville © MGM
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Shivers #118
February 2005
ships from Jan 6 2005
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