Those who were fans of 1979 shocker, The Amityville Horror can now get pretty close to the cultural phenomena by owning the New Jersey house where the movie was filmed. That is, if they have a couple of million lying around.
The NBC Today show recently interviewed the owners of the home, who are putting it up for sale. No, spooks haven’t chased them out. In fact, they describe it as a nice center-Colonial with a waterfront view, rather than an otherworldly portal with a gateway to hell in the basement. The home was the filming location for The Amityville Horror, and the owners describe it as a nice four-bedroom with a pool. Asking price: just more than $1.3 million.
“It is not haunted,” said owner Odalys Fragoso, who also said she regularly has been asked about seeing flies or hearing voices imploring her to “Get out!”. She also showed the Today crew how she has a home-theatre in the basement, where the host was treated to a showing of the 1979 original.
It’s important to consider that the home in New Jersey is merely the Hollywood set for the 1979 film. The actual home exists, in – yes – Amityville, N.Y. If the past few owners of that home have been any indication, the only thing haunting the Amityville house has been curiosity-seekers, be it ones who merely drive by to those who go so far as to ring the doorbell.
The saga of the Amityville Horror is long and storied. In 1975 George and Kathleen Lutz moved into the Long-Island home with their children. Within a month they fled, claiming the home was haunted and that evil forces pushed them out. Their story became the basis of the 1977 Jay Anson book, The Amityville Horror, published with the declaration “A True Story” in the title. Based on the book’s striking success, it was made into the 1979 film, starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder (pictured above). The Lutzes’ claims immediately inspired controversy, with many researchers pointing out inconsistencies in their account of their time in the house. Perhaps the biggest blow came when attorney William Weber went on record – giving subsequent interviews – that he and the Lutzes’ concocted the haunting story one evening over many bottles of wine. The Lutzes strenuously objected, going so far as to sue Weber. But, the silver-tongued lawyer stood by his account of events.
Weber’s involvement with the Lutzes stemmed from his job as the attorney for Ronald DeFeo Jr who lived in the house with his parents and siblings in 1974. DeFeo was convicted of shooting to death his mother, father, two brothers and two sisters. Currently serving a life sentence, he was described by associates as a deeply troubled young man, so much so that news of his heinous crime did not shock them or even seem out of character. Weber went for an insanity defense and reportedly collaborated with the Lutzes because their claims would call the murders further into doubt. Weber and the Lutzes supposedly were inspired to their wild tale be the recent success of the 1973 film The Exorcist, which is among the most successful movies ever made.
Enthusiasts of the Amityville Horror story (which has spawned several books and movies, including a poorly received 2005 remake), have often pointed to the most bizarre aspect of the DeFeo Jr case: That all the victims of the murder were shot lying face-down in their beds, with no signs of sedatives in their systems. Investigators find that bit of evidence incongruous, given how strikingly loud the shotgun report would have echoed throughout the house.
How’s that for a creepy ending?