The Amityville Shining

I don’t think I ever saw The Amityville Horror as a kid but I know that many of those who did always had a pet fear of the movie. It was the one that scared them the most.

Anyway, with the release of the new remake of The Amityville Horror, I decided to go back and check out the original with its new release on dvd.

A bit of background – both to the film and the events

A guy murders his parents and four brothers and sisters while they sleep. Nobody wakes up during the shooting and nobody in the neighbourhood heard anything either. One year later a new family moves in and flee the house leaving everything behind 28 days later claiming all sorts of hauntings going on.

You can go through the documentaries on Disc 2 to see the various Hoax vs True cases (for me the most damning thing is that not one person who has owned or lived in the house since has reported anything. Not one.)

Anyway – For the most part, the hauntings in the original were subtle. Voices, flies, the odd apparition. Less was definitely more. Except where they all run out and the father goes back to get the dog. A real man would not have gone without his loyal dog in the first place. I have always had the understanding with whomever I happened to be living with that in case of fire, my first priority would be to get my dogs to safety. But I digress. I enjoyed it very much, the transfer is nicely done and the newly remixed 5.1 soundtrack is better than I would have expected.

So how did the remake shape up?

As a rule, I generally dislike horror remakes or retellings where filmmakers feel the need to screw around with things to give it “modern” sensibilities. Mainly because this too often includes subscription to the EXTREEEEME!!! school of (total lack of) thought such as all these completely retarded fast moving super zombies plaguing all modern day zombie films.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake is one of the worst examples of trying to modernise the characters and it was total shit as a result (though certainly not solely because of that)

Even the Ring and Grudge remakes aren’t as good as the originals. Not to say they are all like that – I quite enjoyed the House on Haunted Hill remake (at least up until they materialised that “evil in the heart of the house”. Up until then, anything could happen to anyone anywhere in the house) Also I suspect it was because rather they brought the whole film into the 90’s – characters and all. None of this “people in the 70’s with 90’s attitudes” TCM bullshit. Anyway I digress.

And when I saw the little preview spot for the remake on Disc 2 of the original and saw someone saying something like “People don’t just want the same story so we putting a few surprises in there” or words to that effect I feared the worst.

And I was fully justified in fearing the worst.

As you may have guessed from the title, this “remake” of The Amityville Horror was really just a “rip off” of The Shining. The house was the focus of the story in the original. As I suggested, the focus of this one is like The Shining – the father going mad and trying to kill his family.

But it’s not just a rip off, it’s an EXTREEEEME!!! rip off.

I can see the planning sessions going something like this:

Dipshit Producer 1: Let’s rip off the Shining but hide it by saying we are going to remake and update The Amityville Horror.

Dipshit Producer 2: Yeah ok! So what happened?

DP 1: A guy kills his family, then a year later, another family moves in and the father starts going mad because the house is evil or something. One of the strange things is that nobody in the house woke up during the shooting and nobody in the neighbourhood heard anything that night.

DP 2: So none of his family woke up when he was shooting the others?

DP 1: Nope. None did.

DP 2: Hmmm. That’s not very extreme. Let’s have the little sister wake up and hide in the closet. Then her brother can walk in there and shoot her!

DP 1: Yeah – that’s EXTREEEEME!!! And then we can also make the closet scene with the babysitter more EXTREEEEME!!! than it was in the original.

DP 2: And let’s make her an EXTREEEEME!!! babysitter. The ultimate 00’s Christina/Paris Hilton wannabe slut.

DP 1: Even though the film is set in the 70’s?

DP 2: Sure. That whole mixing of generations will make the film more EXTREEEEME!!!

Then a little further into the script

DP 1: Hmm. We seem to be throwing in a lot of ghosts and stuff and cheap scares in the background. There really wasn’t this much in the original. It was much more subtle and subdued. That is what made it scary. Perhaps we should try a bit of that.

DP 2: Pfft! That’s boring. Don’t you know anything? To make a horror film you have to make it EXTREEEEME!!! We need more ghosts but even that is not enough. We need to have the little ghost girl, who was a pig in the original movie and tales of the supposedly true events, (but a pig isn’t EXTREEEEME!!! enough) lure the little girl into all sorts of dangerous situations like on the boat and on the roof of the house, even though there is no possible way such a young girl could climb up onto that roof, even with a ghost leading her. Now that is EXTREEEEME!!!

And further still into the film

DP 1: I don’t know. In the Shining, Jack Nicholson was a lot more extreme than our guy. What can we do to make him more extreme?

DP 2: I know! Let’s have him hack the dog up with an axe! That will make him EXTREEEEME!!!

DP 1: But we are, at least, pretending to remake The Amityville Horror and in the original, he goes back into the house to rescue the dog in a truly selfless and heroic act, and the dog helps pull him out some black ooze in the basement that he falls in while trying to save the dog.

DP 2: So? I am a little leftist chickenshit. What do I care about selfless and heroic acts? I just want to make this movie EXTREEEEME!!! and speaking of which, that whole black ooze thing is not extreme enough. What we need is a whole underground section full of cells with the ghosts of the inmates still in there all tortured and mutilated. And we need a room at the end of it all where some strange Reverend, to whom we make vague references throughout the film but never fully explain why he’s there and that it is him and not the house causing all the evil even though the original Amityville Horror was about the house, slashes his own throat. Now that’s EXTREEEEME!!!

And so the rest of the film went pretty much like that.

The big interest for many would be that local Perth girl Melissa George is the star in her first major Hollywood role. She was good but there was no way anybody would believe that she was old enough to have an eldest child of 12 years old. That is not her fault but still….

By far the best thing about this movie was the Revenge of the Sith trailer that played before it. In the best part, four Jedi led by Mace Windu walk into Palpatine’s office and switch on their lightsabres.

“You’re under arrest, Chancellor”

“Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?” as he flicks an item down his sleeve into his hand, then leaps forward attacking with a lightsabre of his own.

Sweet. I would rather watch those few seconds over and over before I’d watch The Amityville Shining again.

(cross-posted at The Asylum)

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments containing Chinese characters will not be published as I do not understand them