Director: Damiano Damiani
Starring: James Olson, Burt Young, Rutanya Alda, Jack Magner, Andrew Prine
If these walls could talk… they would SHRIEK!
The italian-american family Montelli moves into an old house on Amityville, Long Island. The father of the family is a drunken sleazebag named Anthony, Dolores is the mother, a woman who wants the best for everyone but does not take well care of herself. Sonny is their biggest child, a typical young man who is about to enter adulthood. Patricia is his younger teenage sister who is naive and beautiful. And there’s also two younger children named Jan and Mark.
Soon after they move in Sonny starts to feel sick and behaves weirdly and strange stuff keeps happening. Dolores invites Father Adamsky over to bless the house, something that doesn’t go quite as planned and Adamsky eventually believes that Sonny is possessed by a demonic spirit and that the entire family is under great danger.
Amityville 2 is kind of a prequel to the original movie. The stories that the Lutz’s heard about in the first movie is supposed to be about this Montelli family. While the first one was a classy horror movie, this one however is sleazy, depraved and nasty. While the Lutz was a common and alright family, the Montelli’s are a very dysfunctional one that you don’t get a lot of sympathy for.
The movie both looks and feels like an italian rip-off of the first and it’s no surprise that it’s actually directed by an italian. This was the only movie that Damiano Damiani (Pizza Connection, How to Kill a Judge) did in the US and I’m gonna guess that including a scene (the most creepy scene in any Amityville movie) where Sonny flirted and talked his little sister Patricia into having sex with him didn’t do wonders for his career in the States. The look of this film is very foggy and eerie, which also gives it a very european look. I think it suits the story very well and adds to the strange and nasty atmosphere of the film. I would have loved to see Damiani tackle more horror during the 70’s and 80’s. He throws a lot of camera effects in at once and with more experience in the genre he could have upped the scariness of this a lot.
In the last part of the movie it goes from being a haunted house movie and starts to become an exorcism movie instead, borrowing heavily from The Exorcist. The exorcism stuff here is actually quite fun and better than most other movies that tries to make those sort of scenes work. The special effects crew did a great job here and some of the stuff is quite gruesome.
Funnily enough, this is written by Tommy Lee Wallace. Wallace has been involved in a lot of horror movies and also directed a few sequels of great movies himself, including Halloween 3, Fright Night 2 and Vampires: Los Muertos. His biggest achievement in my mind is however Stephen King’s It, which he directed and was involved in the writing process of.
I enjoyed the acting here. It starts off pretty bad, but gets better and better. James Olson (The Mafu Cage, Commando) plays Father Adamsky very well and is one of the better priests in horror movies. He both acted and looked the part and the character works for me. Jack Magner (Firestarter) is ok as Sonny, his looks and the makeup helps him a lot and it’s no big surprise to me that he didn’t get a big and long Hollywood career after his debut in this one. Rutanya Alda (The Deer Hunter, When a Stranger Calls) is great as the mother and Burt Young (Rocky, Chinatown) does his job as the father well, even though the part is basically just a meaner version of his character Paulie from the Rocky movies. Diane Franklin (Last American Virgin, TerrorVision) is gorgeous and actually makes Patricia into the only real sympathetic character of the movie, regardless of her activities she gets tricked into doing with her brother.
Amityville 2 might not be for everyone, but I think it’s absolutely great and lots of fun. It’s fast paced and only takes a little break before it enters into the exorcism modus. It might not be a classic or have any class either, but it’s definitely a great sequel, an interesting production and a good horror movie.