Watched November 12, 2012
Starring: James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger, and Don Stroud
This is another classic horror movie that I hadn't seen until now. My first impression was how nice it is to watch a movie that has actual production value. I'm not trying to put down the other amazing movies that we watch, but every once in awhile it's nice to have the dialogue line up with the way the actor's move their mouths.
It begins with the true DeFeo murders of 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. shot his parents and four siblings in their beds. A year later the house is up for sale and being considered by George and Kathy Lutz (James Brolin and Margot Kidder) who are newlyweds, even though she has 3 children from her previous marriage. They do know about the murders, but decide that the house is perfect for them regardless. They move in, but have a priest come bless the house just to remove any leftover bad stuff. The priest, Father Delaney (Rod Steiger) arrives while the family is playing outside so they aren't there to greet him. He just enters the house and goes up to one of the rooms on the second floor. He begins to feel ill as he is swarmed by flies, then a male voice yells "get out!" Father Delaney does just that, he tries to call Kathy later but the phone cuts out and burns him so he has blisters on his hands.
The family begins to settle in and cleans up the house as strange things begin to happy. The youngest Lutz child Amy makes friends with an invisible something named Jodie. George is hit the hardest, he regularly wakes at 3:15 am, when the DeFeo murders occurred. He is constantly cold feeling strange drafts in the house so he compulsively chops wood to feed the fire. Odd things happen like Kathy's brother loses $1500 right before his wedding. George stops working and gets super stressed out. The front door is blown off it's hinges at 3:15 am one night. Several people that visit have a horrible feeling about the house, one of these people is George's business partner's wife. They follow her lead down to the basement where she senses the gateway to hell is. Their dog Harry has been scratching at this spot. They break down the wall to find a strange small room that is painted red. On the families last night there, George goes really nuts and almost tries to kill the kids but is knocked out of it and he gets his family out of the house as the walls drip blood. He runs back to the house to save the dog and falls into a red room pit that is filled with black slime. He makes it out and the family drives away never to go back to the horrible haunted house.
In these modern times the movie seems a little slow, but as I think about it again it's actually very strange to have a house slowly drive you crazy. I was a little surprised that the family didn't leave earlier, but then again they didn't know that they house was trying to kill them. I think it's a well deserved classic.
The illustration refers to my favorite characters of the movie, the babysitter with headgear who gets stuck in a closet and the gruff old detective who investigated the DeFeo murders and watches over the house as crazy things escalate. They don't play huge roles and never interact with each other, but I like them.