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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Amityville 2: The Possession

"If these walls could talk... they would SHRIEK!"

        The inevitable sequel to the mega-hit THE AMITYVILLE HORROR is actually just as entertaining as the original, in my opinion. A prequel to the original that's based on the book "Murder In Amityville" by famed parapsychologist Hans Holzer, AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION is really nowhere near as bad as it's made out to be, which is usually pretty often. Or at least it used to be.  Seems the movie is seen in a different light today, and I never understood why it was so frowned upon in the first place- it's got some incredible scenes in it. I loved it just as much as the first film, and felt the underrated Rutanya Alda was just as good a leading lady as our Margot.

     Maybe it's just me, but this film almost has a seedy and sleazy feel to it, which only adds to the horror, I think. It opens with a great and sweeping shot of the Amityville house surrounded by fog, (or the studio's interpretation of the actual house, that is...), and that shot immediately sets the tone for the rest of the film. What it lacks in some production areas here and there, it more than makes up for it all with a downright evil, menacing atmosphere and some first rate special effects.

     This movie oozes evil from every frame, and is widely considered to be the darkest and most frightening of the series. On top of all the supernatural shenanigans going on, there is a sinister, underlying tension present within the family. Sure, the demonic presence in 112 Ocean Avenue is spooky, but the real-life horrors presented here are just as unsettling- physical abuse, incest, rape, family quarrels. It's all very disconcerting. You can feel all the problems within the family bubbling under the surface, ready to erupt at any moment. This is a somewhat stressful movie to sit through.

       Loosely based on the actual DeFeo case, AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION offers up some slick, spooky camera work and that awesomely scary Lalo Schifrin score help the film tremendously. The music is truly frightening and why this particular score has never officially been released on cd is a shame, I tell ya.

     To be fair, you could say that the climax of AMITYVILLE 2 basically degenerates into a low-rent EXORCIST. It pretty much does. You could even venture to say that it's a shamelessly exploitative and sensationalistic movie ripping off the tragedy of the DeFeo family. It is. However.....I still love this movie. This was supremely scary stuff back in the 80's, and besides some dated 80's trappings, it's by far the scariest Amityville movie ever made. It's a great and underrated B-movie that makes a great double-feature with the original.

     Throwing in a rather shocking incest plotline, the always entertaining Rutanya Alda, 80's icon Diane Franklin, and you have by far the best sequel out of the entire series. This is really the most sinister and scary of all the AMITYVILLE films!

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