Sonny is chased around the house
by camera operators.
The three and a half scariest words in the cinematic language strike again, as Dino De Laurentis presentsAmityville II: The Possession. This sequel to The Amityville Horror is just as stupid and void of entertainment value as the first.
Amityville II opens with another family of hapless home buyers moving into the famous house. Although we're never 100% sure if this is before or after the events of The Amityville Horror, it appears that the film portrays the original shotgun murders that preceded the arrival of the Lutz family. The issue is clouded by the fact that the names and events don't match with those portrayed in the previous movie. If it does take place after the Lutzes left, no mention of the recent history of the house is ever made.
The family in this film is the Montellis. They manage, from the film's very beginning, to be even more unpleasant than the Lutzes. The father (the irrepressibly swarthy Burt Young) beats his children and his wife (Rutanya Alda). Teenaged Sonny (Jack Magner) is rebellious, and there is a teenaged daughter Patricia (Better Off Dead's Diane Franklin) and a couple of little ones as well.
The new Star Trek series really
scrapes the bottom of the barrel.
The Ultimate Evil that inhabits the house decides to pace itself in this movie too, and early on it amuses itself with petty vandalism and swirling around its victims with very odd camera movements. Soon it has possessed Sonny, and in an uncomfortable bit of cinema he seduces his sister. After dwelling on the incest for a while, the movie finally moves on to the inevitable murder spree. Later, Sonny is taken into custody for killing the rest of his family, and things almost get interesting.
A local priest, Father Adamsky (James Olson), takes an interest in Sonny's case after failing to respond to Patricia's requests for help. He soon determines that Sonny is possessed by a demon, as evidenced by shock cuts to Sonny with yellow eyes and sharp teeth. Apparently Sonny's defense lawyer is an idiot, because he enters a plea of not guilty "for reason of demonic possession," which flies like a lead balloon. Just how did Adamsky get to decide which way the kid should plea? Let's motion for a mistrial right now, shall we? The defendant's counsel is obviously incompetent.
"Okay, but only if it will help my career."
Patricia strips down for Sonny in the film's
most repulsive scene.
After several scenes stolen directly from The Exorcist*, Father Adamsky breaks Sonny out of jail in order to perform an exorcism. Why the exorcism couldn't have been performed in jail, no one will say. Why the exorcism has to take place in the house, no one will say either. The only good thing about this mess of a plot is that it leads to a nice makeup effect as Sonny's face begins to dissolve, leaving behind the demon inside.
One nice thing we can say about Amityville II is that it took away seven minutes fewer of our lives than the original movie did. The script was written by Tommy Lee Wallace, and we can assume that he got the job by being a friend of John Carpenter. He was apparently given the challenge, "Write a script, based on The Amityville Horror, but make the characters less likeable, the situations more repulsive, the supernatural elements less interesting, and if you could make the fact that we're ripping off The Exorcist really obvious, that would be great!" This was a challenge to which Wallace rose admirably.
Direction is provided by Italian Damiano Damiani, who probably got the job for the simple reason that his first and last names sound like "Damien" from the Omen films. He never made any other films in the English language before or after Amityville II, and we earnestly wish he hadn't made this one.
Father Adamsky wonders if his health
insurance will cover a dermatologist
who specializes inoutbreaks of
A particularly strange feature of the Amityville films is the house's apparent ability to destroy itself without causing anyone to notice. In this episode*, the house fires the racked guns in the basement, breaks its own windows, causes plumes of flame to spurt forth from broken pipes, and practically throws the doors off their hinges. The only comment is from Patricia, who asks Sonny why all the windows downstairs are open. There are no burn marks, no bullet holes, no broken glass. Hey -- a self-repairing house! Why, if we could just harness Ultimate Evil to do our chores for us, maybe we could live with it! Sure, feed it a virgin or two every year, it'll all work out.
We hope by now that we've convinced you not to waste time with the first two Amityville films, but if you need more convincing, there are others who have examined the inconsistencies and just plain stupidity of this film at even greater length than we. For that we salute them. Do not, however, undertake to repeat these mistakes. If you want to see this material in its original form, go rent Poltergeist and The Exorcist. You'll have fewer confessions to make later on.
* The Exorcist ripoffs are multiple and blatant, and even include the film's ending. Anyone who has seen the horror classic with Linda Blair can tell you just how obvious it is by looking at the picture to the right, so you'll just have to excuse us if we sound bitter. Go back!
* We call them episodes because any film franchise that has spawned 7 sequels, all of them so horrible, can only qualify as some sort of miniseries of the damned. Go back!