The Amityville Horror

The Amityville Horror

‘THE AMITYVILLE HORROR’


JUMP TO SECTION:

OPENING LINE:

The book that spawned an entire movie franchise.


PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:

In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new home on suburban Long Island. George and Kathleen Lutz knew that, one year earlier, Ronald DeFeo had murdered his parents, brothers, and sisters in the house, but the property – complete with boathouse and swimming pool – and the price were too good to pass up. Twenty-eight days later, the entire Lutz family fled in terror.
This is the spellbinding, best-selling, true story that gripped the nation – the story of a house possessed by evil spirits, haunted by psychic phenomena almost too terrible to describe.
Jay Anson 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.
©1977 Jay Anson; published in arrangement with Lesia Anson (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.


THE PLOT:

‘The Amityville Horror’ tells the story of George and Kathy Lutz along with their three children and the family dog. In December 1975, they moved to 112 Ocean Ave. in Amityville on Long Island, New York. The house cost the Lutz family $80,000 and it seemed to be all they were looking for and more.
But from the moment they moved in, things were just not right. Bad things seemed to begin shortly after the family had a Catholic priest and family friend come and bless the house.
The activity involved health issues for the parents and the Catholic priest. The daughter of the family acquired a new friend in the form of a pig named Jodie and brothers who rarely fought before physically started to do so with a much greater frequency. Even the behavior of the dog changed. There were days that the dog seemed to be ill even though nothing was physically wrong and there were times he was frightened of certain rooms in the house.
Kathy Lutz’s brother and sister-in-law lost money in the house and experienced other encounters of their own. More than one house guest was driven away by fear including Kathy’s aunt who was a former nun.
The longer the family stayed in the house the worse things seemed to get. It was when the activity started to target the children more and more that the Lutz family decided it was time to leave. Even then they could not escape the house easily.
‘The Amityville Horror’ may be more famous for spawning an entire series of movies either directly connected to the house or only loosely related to it. The book is told as a true account of the twenty-eight days spent in the house by the Lutz family. Future residents of the house, which is still standing and was last on the market in 2010, have reported no strange activity. In the late 1970s, both George and Kathy Lutz took polygraph tests centering around their time in the Amityville home and both of them passed. That does not prove the account to be absolutely true, only that it is what they believed happened.
There are many criticisms and issues of dispute with the book. Some of the most troubling:

  • The claim made in Chapter 11 that the house was built on a site where the local Shinnecock Indians had once abandoned the mentally ill and the dying was rejected by local Native American leaders.

Well, that might be the kind of thing you wouldn’t want to admit to under any condition, but it is troubling nonetheless.

  • The claim of cloven hoof prints in the snow on January 1, 1976 was rejected by other researchers, because a check on the weather records showed that there had been no snow in Amityville on the day in question.

There are many other issues found with claims made in the book. When taken together it is hard to come away from reading the book with full confidence in the accuracy of the accounts found within it.


THE AUTHOR:

This is the only audiobook I could find with Anson as the author. I will give him this much, he tells a compelling tale. Repeatedly emphasizing that this is a true account might be enough to convince some people to overlook the disputed information that would come out later.
I found the end of the book to be the most interesting. It reads as an attempt to stamp out any criticism that may head in its direction. It even claims that the ceasing of paranormal activity in a given location can stop as abruptly as it began. That’s fine, but it is stated as a fact without much evidence beyond the idea that researchers and experts say so. If you read a lot of this kind of book, you may have an easier time determining if that statement is factual or not. But if this is your introduction to the genre, I don’t feel like you get enough information that you can use as proof.


THE NARRATION:

I thought Ray Porter did an outstanding job with this one. Porter, in the books that I’ve listened to him read, seems to do well when conveying situations full of tension and stress. He does well reading military biographies as well. A solid and straightforward narration without a lot of shift in tone or accent, although the window repairman was given an accent that made sense considering his dialogue.


THE PRODUCTION:

The audio track did not make use of any sound effects or background music which is fine for this type of release. Some creepy effects might have made it even more difficult for me to fall asleep at night. The audio levels on the track were consistent throughout, which is to say that there were no drastic shifts in volume or tone. Chapter stops were put at the beginning of each chapter which is where they belong but are not always found.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

Obviously the accounts contained in this book are not without contradiction or dispute. That is hardly uncommon when it comes to books describing supposed paranormal activity. I’m one of those people who finds out that a minor detail is wrong and then wonders what else might be wrong.
We will probably never know if the book is complete fiction, entirely true or somewhere in the middle, as many of the parties involved are now deceased. My instinct and common sense tells me that there are just too many things that don’t quite add up for it to be entirely true. Regardless, this was a book that I really enjoyed reading. It will likely be a Halloween favorite for many years to come.


QUICK FACTS:

Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
The Amityville Horror Jay Anson Ray Porter Blackstone Audio, Inc. Biographies & Memoirs 12/31/2009 6 hours, 27 minutes 7.5/10

DISCLAIMER:

A copy of ‘The Amityville Horror’ was purchased from Audible.com for review.

Advertisements