As a campfire tale or fodder for a scary movie, the Amityville Horror has a lot going for it.

Clearly, the iconic house's anthropomorphic appearance is partially responsible. The upper-floor quarter-circle windows looked like eyes on a jack-o'-lantern. (But no longer: Years ago, the place was renovated by owners tired of the never-ending parade of gawkers and ghost-hunters in the small town and replaced the quarter-circle windows with boring rectangular ones. The house was sold last year for $950,000.) A similar house in New Jersey used for the 1979 movie completes the face-like look with an attached chimney running between the "eyes."

Anson's 1977 "true story" was the first in a long series of related books and movies.
Jamie Peachey
Anson's 1977 "true story" was the first in a long series of related books and movies.
Christopher Quaratino changed his last name from Lutz in 1989 to escape the public attention he now seeks.
Jamie Peachey
Christopher Quaratino changed his last name from Lutz in 1989 to escape the public attention he now seeks.

The name of the Long Island town, where residents abhor the legend and its believers, adds to the mystique: Amity means friendship, an irony not lost on those who think evil lurks there.

The tale of terror came just years after the enormously successful The Exorcist book (1971) and movie (1973), and America was primed for a new wave of modern horror tales. (Carrie, Stephen King's first published novel, came out in 1974.) The chilling, Oscar-nominated music in the 1979 Amityville Horror movie, featuring the airy la-la-las of young girls, has become a cliché of the horror genre.

Anson's book has sold an estimated 10 million copies since its release 24 years ago, but its popularity has waned, and it's not easily found in local bookstores. Still, it would be wrong to say the legend it spawned is dying.

Besides numerous books, the "horror" has led to nine movies. No fewer than four more movies currently are in various stages of production, including: Amityville: The Legacy in 3D; Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes; Shattered Hopes — the True Story of the DeFeo Murders; and a documentary, My Amityville Horror, which centers on interviews with Quaratino's brother, Daniel.

The main reason for the enduring idea that the house is haunted stems from Ronald DeFeo Jr.'s horrific crime. Even in today's jaded culture, the slaying would be a national story. DeFeo, a mentally troubled heroin addict, shot his six family members with a rifle as they slept in their beds in various rooms. Oddly, all the victims were found lying on their stomachs, and none appeared to have been awakened by the gunshots.

George Lutz, then 28, moved into the house on December 18, 1975, with his new bride, Kathy, and her three children. She was a waitress, and freshly divorced. Lutz met her in a Babylon, New York, diner he frequented, says Quaratino. The kids — Danny, Christopher, and 5-year-old Missy — liked George. He owned a land-surveying business and could pull wheelies on his Harley-Davidson. The family order crumbled years later under disputes and bad feelings, but not before George and Kathy had two daughters together.

Anson's book says the freaky stuff began the first morning after the Lutzes moved in, when George heard someone — something? — pounding on his front door at 3:15 a.m.

Legend has it that the problems soon grew outlandishly. Critics later complained that the Lutzes' story conveniently includes nearly every paranormal activity known: Unexplainable coldness. Levitation. Ghostly apparitions. Lots of rapping and tapping sounds. Mysterious music from an unknown source.

A Catholic priest brought in to bless the house supposedly heard a voice telling him to "get out." The priest backed up the story during an appearance on the 1970s show In Search Of, hosted by Leonard Nimoy.

A ceramic lion supposedly bit George on the calf. Little Missy suddenly began playing with an invisible friend, Jodie. Jodie was a pig that George claimed to have seen. From Anson's book:

From Missy's second-floor bedroom window, George could see the little girl staring at him, her eyes following his movements. "Oh, God!" he whispered aloud.

Directly behind his daughter, frighteningly visible to George, was the face of a pig! He was sure he could see little red eyes glaring at him!

On a stormy night in mid-January, the Lutzes claim in the book, the spookiness reached a terrifying climax. The house became freezing cold. Doors and drawers banged opened and closed. The boys' beds were sliding across the room. A hoofed creature stood on top of George in his bed, trapping him until he "passed out from fright. When he awoke, his terrified boys were trying to get him out of bed:

As he lay there, George asked Danny, "What's the matter? What's in your room?"

"It's a monster!" Danny cried. "He doesn't have any face!"

"It tried to grab us," Chris broke in, "but we ran away! Come on, Daddy, get up!"

On the top step stood a gigantic figure in white.

George knew it was the hooded image Kathy had first glimpsed in the fireplace. The being was pointing at him!

As if fleeing from a house fire, the family grabbed a few items, ran out, and supposedly never set foot in the home again. All five family members moved into Kathy's mother's small bungalow in nearby Babylon. Fearful even of their belongings, they sold off their furniture and other items. Their fleeing made the local newspaper — the first story in what would soon become a media frenzy.

Less than two months later, the Lutzes held a press conference with William Weber, an attorney representing DeFeo, leading to accusations that they'd planned a hoax before even moving in. Weber wanted to play up the idea that evil spirits were in the house — or, at least, that DeFeo thought were there — in an attempt to have DeFeo declared guilty but insane.

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29 comments
charlie_oscar
charlie_oscar

I saw this house in the 80's when everyone was driving by... The locals all said it was not even the house that the incident happened in...It just looked better for the movie set because of the windows. THAT is the real truth...

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Is this law Racist? Does it specify brown people?Are the people who agree with this law racist?Are those who want this law enforced racist?The law says nothing of little "brown" people but it explains what is illegal entry. It's not very hard to understand. Why is this law "broken"? Why can it be selectively ignored?Illegal alien includes all people who entered illegally, could be Croation, Russian, Chinese, Irish, Canadians and yes even Mexicans. No one single race or people is referenced in the law. Under Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code, "Improper Entry by Alien," any citizen of any country other than the United States who:Enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers; or Eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers; or Attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact; has committed a federal crime.Violations are punishable by criminal fines and imprisonment for up to six months. Repeat offenses can bring up to two years in prison. Additional civil fines may be imposed at the discretion of immigration judges, but civil fines do not negate the criminal sanctions or nature of the offense.These people cost Pheonix and surrounding cities hundreds of millions to support the education, health and welfare of these illegal immigrants. A landscape worker paid by cash (no taxes) and his wife (a stay at home mom), have been here for 16 years and had 7 children born in the US. Who do you think paid for her medical bills???Why isn't Obwama dealing with this?We can not afford 4 more years of Obwama!!!When will Obwama end the illegal Mexican occupation of the United States of America?When have 12,000,000 people occupied a country other than a time of war?

John Collins
John Collins

Do you people ever comment on the article? Is AZ full of retards?

Mamacira59
Mamacira59

Who else do we expel? The Chinese? The Puerto Rican? The Haitians? The Africans? No not the Africans...We can use them as slaves? The native Americans? We have already done that. The Arab Americans? Yes, they are the terrorists. Are they not? Where are you going to be when there is no one left? Huh, Mr. Doo Doo?

Mamacira59
Mamacira59

I agree w/Steve of having no borders. I am not a citizen of the US but I am here legally. As for you Mr. Dumoudan (doo-doo) you need to stop occupying the US as well. "Doo-Doo" (Dumoudan) does not sound like a native name to me. I was a "Mitchell" at one point in time. That is an American name. And that is if you consider white folks to be the original people of this land. If you want to stop the occupation of this nation, start with yourself. Let's see how you spin this sh_t of your last name. Oh yeah, go ahead and state that this is my synonym. Go look up the word....

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

When will the Mexican occupation of the United States end?

Steve
Steve

Country borders reflects the greed each gov't and its population have. They give themselves a false power of controlling the earth when in reality the earth owns us. There are no borders, the earth belongs to all human beings. There was once no borders, people could travel anywhere and contribute to each community. You want to follow rules that your gov't makes? The same gov't that tries to screw you over? Take all your money and not do anything with it?

Dumoudan is racist. You fail to realize the cheap labor these Mexicans made helped the economy VERY MUCH.

Is it a coincidence that the economy is destroyed after they decide to target the people who worked for low wages and helped ALL companies save money therefore would grow into much bigger companies that brought more jobs to the US population?

Nope, no coincidence. Americans dont want to work in the fields, they dont want to work in construction (unless they are the boss). Americans want to sit in an office. A country cant grow if you dont have a strong workforce that will do the dirty work so everyone else can have a comfortable life.

Learn to appreciate the hard work of another human being. Your home was most likely built by one of the people that you try to drive out of the country. The food you eat was picked and sorted and packaged by the people that you want to drive out of the country.

Be a freakin human being, you make me sick with your child-like naive way of thinking.

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Are you saying that 12,000,000 people entering the US without the benefit of going through a legal port of entry is not to be taken seriously? Wouldn't you consider these 12,000,000 illegal immigrants to be occupiers? Why are we turning a blind eye to this very serious issue? What has to cross the border illegaly before th US admits that we in fact do have a propblem. I am trying to wake people up before it's too late. The poimt of these statements , even though they may not relate to the article where posted, is to keep pushing peoiple to finally do something about this OR change the immigration laws and open the borders to EVERYONE. Would that be a good solution you think?

Dogbiter
Dogbiter

Hey, guy; who thinks Rick's not that smart. You are the one who isn't smart. In fact, you apparently are dumb as a board. Dumodan is all over the New Times website, making stupid comments of all stripes, and fighting with his detractors. He's on stories that have no bearing on his subject, illegal immigration. Look just below! Or look on the marijuana story in this issue. He's everywhere! Hardly a bot, fool. You're just another New Time hater because it refuses to embrace your Teabagger values. As the guy said below: "Go fuck yourself."t

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Ask a Mexican when he / she plans to end their occupation of El Norte?

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Is this law Racist? Does it specify brown people?Are the people who agree with this law racist?Are those who want this law enforced racist?The law says nothing of little "brown" people but it explains what is illegal entry. It's not very hard to understand. Why is this law "broken"? Why can it be selectively ignored?Illegal alien includes all people who entered illegally, could be Croation, Russian, Chinese, Irish, Canadians and yes even Mexicans. No one single race or people is referenced in the law. Under Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code, "Improper Entry by Alien," any citizen of any country other than the United States who:Enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers; or Eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers; or Attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact; has committed a federal crime.Violations are punishable by criminal fines and imprisonment for up to six months. Repeat offenses can bring up to two years in prison. Additional civil fines may be imposed at the discretion of immigration judges, but civil fines do not negate the criminal sanctions or nature of the offense.These people cost Pheonix and surrounding cities hundreds of millions to support the education, health and welfare of these illegal immigrants. A landscape worker paid by cash (no taxes) and his wife (a stay at home mom), have been here for 16 years and had 7 children born in the US. Who do you think paid for her medical bills???Why isn't Obwama dealing with this

Gdoka
Gdoka

I went to school with Chris Lutz, at Salk School in Mesa, Az. 6th Grade Mr Betz.

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

We expel only those who enetered the US without the due process for immigration which is reporting to an Immigration agent at a legal port of entry. Is that too difficult for your pea brain to comprehend? If you don't like the existing law, change it. Do you think that's likely?

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Do you honestly beleive that illegal immigrants do not keep wages low?

Devil Dog 80
Devil Dog 80

SOme people I am finding out really would like to use Mexican Slavery as an excuse to keep the borders open. Heck they can still come over with a work visa, have no fear of deportation, and get paid more money and really put a dent in our economy and take more HIGHER paying jobs from us. And thus creating more Goverment Jobs and for the Un employed, they get goverment handouts and stay home and play video games right? Well let me tell you folks something, neither slavery not goverment aid help anybody. Once you take a persons need to work and feel like a needed human being and a family member, theres nothing but trouble in that persons live eventually. We tried this already, what we need is a LEVEL playing field, lower restrictions on businesses in US. Get more people back to work and quit draining OUR PENNY BANKS FOLKS! ANd fix this damn tax system ! But lets start coming together and quit stealing everyone elses future that even isn't born yet. My God wheres your morals.

Rick Barrs
Rick Barrs

Dumoudan, Please keep your comments on point with the story in question. This comment obvously has nothing to do with the Amityville story you've attached it to. You have posted such comments all over our website on stories that have nothing to do with illegal immigration. I'm kindly asking you to stop this practice and post such comments only on appropriate stories -- those about Mexican immigration. If you keep up your current practice, we will have to block you from commenting on our site. Respectfully, Rick Barrs, Editor

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Rick, Why is your publication so partial to people who are occupying the United States? Are you and your "news" organization saying that 12,000,000 or more people entering the US without the benefit of entering through a legal port of entry isn't a problem? Why do you selectively show preference to illegal Mexican immigrants and not Chinese, Russian, Nigerian, Malaysian, Indian, Iraniains, or even Brazilian? Why do you prefer the Mexicans alone?

Rick_Not_Smart
Rick_Not_Smart

Rick, the person you've asked to stop spamming immigration comments is not a person.. it's a bot. How you are so stupid that you are unable to figure this out on your own is beyond me, but that being the case, let me explain what a bot is. It's an automated computer program designed to post the same basic message as much as it can in as many places as it can.

The fact that you have seen this bot post completely irrelevant and unrelated messages on comment pages more than once, and still didn't understand that it was a bot and not an actual person, says worlds to your intelligence. Any intelligent person, let alone any one who thinks they have any business reporting the news, would have picked up on this fact immediately.

I'm sincerely frightened that people of your obviously limited mental capacities are allowed to work for ANY sort of news company. No doubt your intelligence (or lack thereof) affects the quality of output compiled by the phoenixnewtimes, and as such, I can safely assume that your news is and probably always has been garbage.

Rick Barrs
Rick Barrs

Dude, I don't care what you post or what you prefer to think. Just post your rants on stories about illegal immigration. Simple. Hey, I've warned you.

Tom Bettany
Tom Bettany

Hey, you're the dumb ass, Check above, fucktard. I know this person. He's not a BOT. He has posted many different messages and even responded to others arguing with him. So go fuck yourself, you pompous, racist anti-immigrationist. Notice that you don't dare put your name on what you write, Fucking coward!

 
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