A family settles into their new home in Long Island, N.Y., and immediately they all begin experiencing strange occurrences.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“Sonny Montelli is a victim of demonic possession – that is, possession by the Devil – and therefore innocent of the charges placed against him.”
This mean-spirited quasi pre-sequel to the surprise smash hit The Amityville Horror (1979) is evidently more schlock than horror. Efficiently directed by Italian filmmaker Damiano Damiani (The Empty Canvas and A Bullet for the General), Amityville II: The Possession is an exploitative, but genuinely scary haunted house movie.
Like The Amityville Horror, Amityville II: The Possession was inspired by true events. Based on the non-fiction book Murder in Amityville by Hans Holzer, the film is a highly fictionalized reenactment of the events that led to the murder of an entire family in the infamous Amityville house in 1974. The brutal crime was committed by the family’s eldest son, Ronald DeFeo Jr., who would later say, “The devil made me do it.”
The film is full of weird inconsistencies (it is supposed to take place in the ’70s, but clothes, technology, etc., are clearly ’80s), annoying discrepancies (many scenes contradict the first film), and silly speculations (DeFeo himself has given contradictory statements over the years). Oh, well! These are problems that viewers need to put aside if they want to get any kind of enjoyment out of the movie.
Despite having a predilection for histrionics, Amityville II: The Possession is “blessed” with some good performances. Newcomer Jack Magner (Firestarter) is fine as the young DeFeo (renamed Sonny Montelli). Burt Young (Rocky) and Rutanya Alda (The Deer Hunter) play his parents. James Olson (The Andromeda Strain) is Father Adamsky, the priest who comes to the aid of the possessed young man.
The cast also includes Andrew Prine (The Miracle Worker) as Father Tom, the exorcist’s assistant and award-winner actor Moses Gunn (Shaft) as a police detective. Diane Franklin (The Last American Virgin) plays Magner’s sister. Composer Lalo Schifrin (TV’s Mission Impossible) delivers another chilling score. Also, kudos to the crew who managed to hide the fact that most of the film was filmed in Mexico.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Amityville II: The Possession was produced by Dino De Laurentiis, known for both art-house favorites (La Strada and Nights of Cabiria) and gargantuan epics (King Kong and Dune). One thing is clear about Laurentiis: he knows how to grab people’s attention — some scenes are downright nasty. Never mind that, the film was a hit. If you are a fan of grindhouse cinema, you may want to check it out. Color, 104 minutes, Rated R.
Followed by Amityville 3-D (aka Amityville 3: The Demon)