Christopher Quaratino, who was 7 when he lived in the home made famous by his parents' stories of a demonic haunting, has a spooky story to share.
We profiled the 43-year-old Phoenix man in this week's edition of New Times and mentioned his plans to tell the story in a live Webcast at 6 p.m. this Sunday. What our article didn't say is that Quaratino told us his story after we promised not to be spoilers and reveal it before he did. Since we're one of the biggest skeptics on the planet, we're not about to endorse the truth of his tale -- though Quaratino says it's based on actual, recent events in his life that involve the paranormal.
But we can tell you truthfully that we found his macabre story entertaining. Whether it's worth the five bucks he's charging -- well, he promises it'll be "creepy or your money back."
As our article on him this week described, Quaratino downplays the Amityville story told in the books and movies, yet maintains a quiet intensity about the supernatural, and how he thinks it's affected him. The air-conditioner repairman has spent nearly his whole life under the shadow of a haunted-house story he didn't create and never appreciated.
Now he's trying to get out his version of the "truth" of the matter, and hopes to complete a book or movie in the near future.
Here are a few other "A-H" tidbits on our mind today:
* After the Lutz family fled their 4,000-square-foot home in Amityville
in January of 1976, a new family moved in about a year later, the
Cromartys. They knew the place had been the site of a horrendous
mass-murder of a family and was rumored (by the Lutzes) to be haunted,
but figured that at only $55,000, the bargain was too good to pass up.
Weeks later, Jay Anson's "true story" book on the haunting was
published. The Cromartys stayed for 10 years but eventually fled the
place themselves -- because of the legions of Amityville Horror fans.
Especially weird were the occult worshippers, who were described in a
humorous 1980 Newsday article by Ed Lowe. Here's a sample:
* Filmmaker Eric Walter compiled a great online resource for people interested in the ghost tale, including several old videos worth watching. As we mentioned in this week's article, Quaratino's brother contacted Walter a couple of years ago about making a documentary, and that movie -- called My Amityville Horror -- is set to be released in the spring.
* We love the opening theme to the 1979 movie so much, we can't resist linking to it here:
The Oscar-nominated movie soundtrack was written by Lalo Schifrin, whose long list of music-writing credits includes the legendary Mission Impossible theme. Contrary to the beliefs of some, says one Amityville Horror website, Schifrin's score isn't the same, rejected composition he created for the 1973 Exorcist movie.
* This week's feature article relates a side-story about the supposedly haunted San Carlos Hotel in Phoenix, where Quaratino asked us to meet him for an initial interview. While there, we asked a worker at the hotel's cafe, Bistro 202, whether she'd heard of any paranormal activity at the place recently -- and, sure enough, she described some.
Last night, we got a phone call from Donald Wilson, a former night watchman at the hotel who claims to have had several first-hand experiences with the alleged San Carlos ghost. He says he worked at the hotel for a few months from late 2005 to early 2006.
Patrons of the hotel would often call the front desk to ask if something could be done about what sounded like kids running up and down stairs, he says. Yet no kids could ever be found -- Wilson thinks they might have been the ghosts of a couple of children who allegedly died in a boiler-room mishap in the hotel's basement. (We're not even sure if the place has a basement, but investigating things like this only ruins the fun.)
The San Carlos had its grand opening on March 19, 1928, says Wikipedia. Less than two months later, a young woman at the hotel fell to her death. She's rumored to be one of the ghosts, naturally.
Wilson says he remembers smelling perfume in the hotel's hallways, when he knew nobody had been there recently. The weirdest experience was the day his St. Christopher's medallion suddenly flipped around to his back.
He sent us a picture he says a bartender took of some women -- and a ghost, (which Wilson says was dressed in 1930s attire) shows up in the background. We'll include the picture here for giggles.
Of course, there's an app for that, so we take all such pictures with a Mount Everest-size grain of salt.
* Speaking of ghost pictures, one of our favorites comes from the Amityville house -- the famous "ghost boy" shot. Looks like a real boy to us, but the photographer who took this shot in 1976 supposedly says no kids were in the home at the time:
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* Lastly, we regret to have to say that we got suckered in by some of the BS out there about the Amityville Horror -- our feature article states that the name of Lutz daughter's imaginary playmate, Jodie, was the name of one of the Ronald DeFeo's murder victims. That turns out to be false -- the '05 AH remake made the claim, leading to lots of online chatter about it. We're correcting that bit of nonsense.