Release Date: July 27th, 1979
Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg
Written by: Sandor Stern
Based on: The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
Music by: Lalo Schifrin
Cast: James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger, Murray Hamilton, Don Stroud, James Tolkan
Cinema 77, Professional Films, American International Pictures, 117 Minutes
“GET OUT!” – The House
The Amityville Horror was a fairly terrifying picture when I first saw it. I was probably seven years old, give or take. It’s always had an effect on me ever since and that’s probably because I saw it at such a young age.
While it’s not a movie I revisit often, I still always like it and get somewhat enchanted by it whenever I revisit it.
It’s a slow movie but the more serious horror films of this era were. It uses its time to build up both suspense and dread and this film does that exceptionally well. It’s a slow burn to a pretty terrifying and effective payoff.
This is also a movie that is enhanced greatly by its atmosphere. That atmosphere is really thick and brooding. The house has the right look, as does the area around it. But watching this and being immersed in it, it almost feels like it’d be hard to breathe in that house once the supernatural shit really kicks up.
The movie is also helped by the actors. All of the key players are immensely talented and they really threw themselves into this picture. James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger, especially, gave their all in this and because of that, this was elevated from just a simple, run-of-the-mill haunted house story to a film that’s become moderately iconic and is still sequelized and remade to this day.
I also think that Lalo Schifrin’s musical score helps with the atmosphere and the growing dread.
The Amityville Horror had a bigger impact than what the filmmakers probably could’ve predicted. That impact, still felt today, has helped shape horror and the haunted house subgenre of horror ever since this was released.
Modern franchises like The Conjuring and all its spinoffs, owe a lot to The Amityville Horror and its effect on filmgoers over forty years ago.