You know you’re in trouble when there’s flies everywhere, the toilets back up with some sort of black burial blood, and there’s a portal to hell in your basement.
Last time we were in Bodega Bay, now we’re in Amityville, Long Island where we go inside a miniature version of everyone’s favorite haunted house from The Amityville Horror (1979) – see video below. Hoax or true story? Or just good old camp horror?
Then, as an adult, well before the balloon boy or Manti Teo, I became well acquainted with what it was to unfurl a hoax upon the masses.
This is the second in our five-part “Houses of Horror” series, based on Tracey Snelling’s art installation. These four miniatures are exacting replicas of the real, hellish deal, and even feature tiny LCDs that play back clips from the respective films.
“The Last House on the Left” is a homage to horror Tracey tells me in an interview that will be published at the end of the week to cap the series. And that’s the kind of homage I can really get into. As I mentioned in the first segment of the series, almost every famous horror flick features an iconic home or building. Mother’s home in Psycho may very well top them all, but it was not included here, as that, in the words of Tracey, would “require an exhibit all to its own.” What we have here rather is a small slice of innocent Americana, with white picket fences wouldn’t you know it.
For me, The Amityville Horror has two meanings.
When I was a kid, it was pure fright. I remember calling Dad from the mall to ask for permission to see it with my friends. I knew–just knew–it would scare the bejesus out of me for weeks on end. And so did my father. I think on that day my request was denied. But at some point down the road I ended up seeing it on cable, or maybe at a friend’s place at a sleepover. I was definitely shaken. Those two, eye-shaped windows on the top of the now iconic house stuck with me. And the score, the one leftover from Rosemary’s Baby, is every bit the creepy accomplice.
Then, as an adult, well before the balloon boy or Manti Teo, I became well acquainted with what it was to unfurl a hoax upon the masses. Perhaps it was George and Kathy Lutz who had the very first viral hit. Possession? Blood-soaked walls? Scalding phones, and blind priests? Forget about it… nothing it seems can lead one into temptation better than money.
Now when I return to Amityville I see pure camp. Enjoyable camp. Nonetheless, this is a dated film.
On the other hand re-watching The Shining (1981), time and time again, is still an exercise in terror (that soundtrack!), devilishly good acting (Jack Nicholson), and epic filmmaking (Stanley Kubrick).
As far as famous haunted houses it’s hard to beat the Dutch Colonial that grabbed the nation’s attention in 1975.