I don’t normally do this, but it’s hot here and I need to vent. What better piece of news to go off on than to report on another “Amityville” film, which is being shopped around like a freshly plumbed rutabaga. This time the producers want to shoot it in the popular shaky cam style like “The Blair Witch Project,” or “Cloverfield.” Oh joy, headaches, aspirin, and vomiting are thrills I yearn for and don’t have often enough.
The Long Island community in question is home to the infamous house in which Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered six members of his family in 1974, and George Lutz and his family, who moved into the house a year later, claim to have encountered paranormal horrors that forced them to abandon the property after just 28 days. The case became the subject of Jay Anson’s 1977 book The Amityville Horror: A True Story and 10 movies, beginning with 1979’s “The Amityville Horror.”
Producer Tony DeRosa-Grund, executive chairman of the Evergreen Media Group, is looking to mount a new film, based on the experiences of two reporters, Laura DiDio and Marvin Scott, who investigated the incidents for New York’s WNEW-TV.
DeRosa-Grund has acquired rights to DiDio and Scott’s account of a séance that was held in the house on March 6, 1976, for a news report. As he tells it, DiDio was a 19-year-old cub reporter who had tracked down the Lutzes through property records after they fled the house and secured George Lutz’s permission to visit the house. Her resulting news report purportedly revealed ghostly presences, including that of a young boy, in the house. Here is what DiDio had to say:
“Marvin and I are thrilled to be working with Tony and Evergreen. I lived through this horrific ordeal, and I am the only person who has the ability to tell the true Amityville prequel story in its entirety. Even after all these years, after what I personally experienced, there is nothing anyone could ever do or say to get me back in that house.”
While he’s not yet lined up a writer or director, DeRosa-Grund is about to take a package out to the studios that includes what he’s calling “found footage” of the news report’s séance. According to the producer, the footage had been thought to be lost, discarded when the TV station got rid of its archival material to make room for a new editing bay, but he tracked down a copy of the report as well as additional footage that Scott had in his possession. The reporters’ story, says DeRosa-Grund, will be the basis for a movie about their experiences investigating the Amityville house and their discoveries about what happened there before the Lutzes moved in.
DeRosa-Grund says the found footage he has secured probably won’t appear in his proposed films unless it is used in the end credits but instead will serve as the basis for his story.
You can say what you want about this story, but what it boils down to is a bunch of phony baloney. First of all, part of the charm of a “found footage” film is its uncertainty of being real. It says in the news item that the found footage will serve as the basis for the film. In reality, watching actors sitting around a table staring into a crystal ball reciting mumbo jumbo is about as thrilling as observing paint dry. I know there are fans who are fascinated with chasing ghosts, UFO’s, sea monsters, and looking for that special crypto zoological creature with big feet, but this is nothing but glamorized reality television. “Amityville” is a subject and project that should be left on the historical junk heap. Yes, tragic murders occurred in the house, but the worst killing happened to people’s wallets who went to see this at the box office. I say let the dead stay that way, and keep remakes, reboots, or a reimagining of this boring topic off the screens, big or small. Here’s an original title, “The Horrible Amityville Film.”