When I was a kid, there were three movies that gave me the creeps - and nightmares to follow. I mentioned these in my Off The Shelf review of Communion(1), but just to refresh your memory since that was over a year ago, they were Poltergeist (I distinctly remember tossing this old knit clown I had up in the attic over this one), Wolfen and The Amityville Horror. The latter has been a big hullabaloo for something like two decades.
Everyone knows the story, and if you say you don't you're either suffering from FullaShitnis disease or you've been living under a rock or something like that. The small town of Amityville, New York, has become synonymous with the supernatural. It has created multiple films, books and an entire cult following with myths, legends, etc. There's even a book by paranormal team Stephen and Roxanne Kaplan called The Amityville Horror Conspiracy that calls it a hoax in no uncertain terms. The issues surrounding The Amityville Horror is of course the same as always - real or not?
As you know of course, the Lutz family moved into the house in Amityville, New York and an entity within the house haunted them for their time there. This has even become the aforementioned horror classic starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder, which tells the story of how the Lutz family faced the entity and were terrified the entire time they lived there until they fled with their three children. The famous scene where a priest walks into the house, is attacked by a large amount of flies and is then told to get out by a chandelier just before fleeing and yakking all over his car is from this film. Great horror movie, it was.
But the issues are - that it's a true story. There was a family murder in the house previously and this has (supposedly) been documented enough. And many say that from this the Lutzes either a) got the idea and developed FullaShitnis looking for fame or b) went looney. Or, of course, it could all be true. I'm not here to debate truthfulness, I'm here to review a book about it.
Many people don't know that after fleeing the house the Lutzes were followed for - cheezily enough - seven years by the entity that began to torment them in New York. I'm going to assume that whatever mirror they broke was downright huge. It chased them to California, Australia, Japan, Arizona - wherever they went. Amityville: The Final Chapter, which is the book I'm discussing here (and it's about time I got to it, innit?) is the "true story" of the final years of torment that the Lutzes dealt with and, accordingly, vanquished. Prior to this book is the second chapter to this hotly debated story, which I haven't read. And have no plans to.
John G. Jones is the writer (uh "documenter") of these final years of the Lutz family horrors. At the outset he claims that he's going to document the case in a novel like fashion, so one would expect he's going to take some liberties during the retelling of the story. Seems to me he not only took liberties, but might have even made some stuff up.
Let me give you an example. Friend of the family Terri Sullivan watches the Lutz children while Mom and Dad are off and away to various points of the earth to tell more people their horror story on radio, TV, whatever. Since she's so close to the family, Mr. AmityDemon accordingly decides to mess with her too and she is physically assaulted in more than one instance. In one scene, her mother gets home before her and is beat to shit by Mr. AmityDemon while there alone. Terri comes home, finds Mom, and then is also beat to shit by Mr. AmityDemon. They are hospitalized, and Mom comes out somewhat amnesiatic of the scene at the house while she was alone. Yet, Mr. Jones somehow, had a detailed retelling of the entire scene - even what Mr. AmityDemon said just prior to doing his beat-to-shit work. Mom didn't remember this, so I see two options of what happened here: a) Mr. Jones not only interviewed the Lutzes, those close to them, etc. but also called up Mr. AmityDemon for his take on the subject or b) FullaShitnis strikes again. Since I still haven't gotten Satan to return my calls so I could tell him I think he's an outdated cheesy bastard and should let me take over when I get there, I can only assume that Mr. Jones couldn't get through to Mr. AmityDemon on his phone either. So let's go with b.
Let's now throw all of the "true story" stuff aside and discuss the "novel" of Amityville: The Final Chapter. Is it a good book? Well, it's not bad. It's somewhat interesting, exciting, and makes for a classic demonic horror story. And I love those for some reason, so I'm going to say that the story was ok. The writing? Pedantic, boorish and John should look up what a synonym is. I get really pissed off when a "novelist" uses the same word or words to describe something over and over again. So final score: Amityville: The Final Chapter is a good "story" that's shoddily written. Is it true? Fucked if I know. Fucked harder if I care.
(1) Legends No. 106, January 2001.
"Amityville: The Final Chapter" by
John G. Jones
Published by Jove Books
Copyright © 1985 by John G. Jones, Kathleen Lutz and George Lutz