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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Damiano Damiani
Cast:
James Olson, Burt Young, Rutanya Alda, Jack Magner, Andrew Prine, Diane Franklin, Moses Gunn, Ted Ross
Writing Credits:
Hans Holzer (book, "Murder in Amityville"), Dardano Sacchetti, Tommy Lee Wallace

Tagline:
Don't forget to check under the bed ...

Synopsis:
Years before George and Kathy Lutz moved in and were terrorized by the spirits in the Amitville House, a family, The Montellis, lived there before and were terrorized by demoniac spirits and their own son who is ready to kill them.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$12.534 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $39.95 (Single Disc Edition: $14.95)
Release Date: 4/5/2005

Available as Part of “The Amityville Horror Collection” Boxed Set.

Bonus:
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Amityville II: The Possession (The Amityville Horror Collection) (1982)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 31, 2005)

The Amityville Horror tells us a lot about the murders that preceded the events depicted in that flick. Rather than create a new tale, 1982’s Amityville II: The Possession goes back to the source for a prequel of sorts, as we take a look at the 1975 DeFeo murders.

However, this fictionalized effort doesn’t call them the DeFeos. An adaptation of Hans Holzer’s book Murder In Amityville, Possession refers to the folks as the Montelli family. We meet father Anthony (Burt Young), wife Delores (Rutanya Alda), teen son Sonny (Jack Magner), and other children Tricia (Diane Franklin), Mark (Brent Katz) and Jan (Erika Katz). We see them move into their soon-to-be-infamous home in Amityville, Long Island, and we quickly observe that Anthony is an abusive disciplinarian, and Sonny has something of a rebellious - and maybe nutso - side to him.

Oddness occurs virtually immediately. For an unknown reason, someone nailed shut all of the house’s windows, and it briefly appears that blood comes from a faucet. Matters don’t improve when a mover finds a gross and creepy little room off the basement that seems to emanate really bad vibes.

And so it goes, as all sorts of spooky weirdness continues. When spirits paint all over the youngest kids’ wall, Anthony blows a gasket. He starts to beat them and then his wife when she intervenes. This leads Sonny to threaten his dad with a rifle. Sonny then hears voices that ask him why he didn’t “shoot that pig”.

Delores asks Father Adamsky (James Olson) to bless the house. This doesn’t sit well with Anthony. He’s not a religious man and he reacts very negatively when he sees the priest come into their home. We also learn that Sonny’s not been feeling well, and when the kid shakes hands with Father Adamsky, more freakiness happens.

This creates the pattern observed through the rest of the movie. The Monetti family runs into more and more nastiness, as spirits become even more prominent in their lives. They mainly affect Sonny, who eventually turns to violence. In the meantime, Father Adamsky attempts to battle the demons.

I can’t say I know much about the events in Amityville related to the DeFeo murders. I’ve picked up a little here or there, but I can’t claim any expertise. I have learned enough to realize that Possession almost entirely seems to be a work of fiction.

I suppose that’s why they changed the names of the DeFeo family to the “Monetti” clan. Not that they couldn’t take liberties with the DeFeo story, but I guess fictionalized characters allow them to open up things more - and also probably leave them less susceptible to legal action.

As it stands, someone should have sued the filmmakers for the absolutely cheesiness of Possession. I didn’t think things could get much worse after the laughable Amityville Horror, but Possession proves me wrong.

At least Horror attempted some minor subtlety and tried to portray a family that disintegrates due to supernatural forces. It didn’t succeed; James Brolin’s terrible performance as George Lutz made him look sinister from day one. However, that wasn’t the fault of the script, which attempted a broader character arc.

No such development occurs or is attempted in the ham-fisted Possession. Sonny doesn’t slowly go bats as the house affects him. Instead, he seems pretty kooky right from the start. Yeah, he turns nuttier as things progress, but there’s not a lot of difference between early Sonny and final Sonny.

The movie allows absolutely no room for interpretation of events either. A better film would leave some doubt - are spooky forces at work, or is Sonny just crazy? We don’t get the chance to take an alternate view here, as the movie makes the house’s evil status abundantly clear from the very start.

This leads to many absurd scenes that attempt scares. The sequence in which the spirits formally possess Sonny is absolutely ludicrous, and most of the others don’t work any better. The film resorts to many cheap filmmaking tactics to communicate its attempted chills, but none of them work.

At no point does Possession really attempt a new story. Instead, it essentially devotes its first half to a remake of Horror, while the second half redoes The Exorcist. The latter situation seems especially misguided. When compared with Horror, the sequel could only look so bad since its predecessor stunk. However, Exorcist is a classic, and any movie that triggers memories of it will surely come up short.

The bizarre casting of Burt Young doesn’t help the situation. Does Young in any way, shape or form seem to be a part of the same family as the others? Anthony is simply a horrible human being. He doesn’t come across as part of the same movie, much less the same family.

Speaking of whom, Possession often feels like some sort of TV movie exposé of dysfunctional families. Not only does it involve a terribly abusive father, but it takes a nonsensical detour into incest as well. We don’t get a great feeling that the house affects the family, as they already seem pretty messed up from the movie’s outset.

Perhaps the main problem with Possession is that it takes a simple story and attempts to complicate it to an absurd level. It takes the events and piles on a variety of elements, none of which add depth or intrigue to the tale. Instead, it becomes nothing more than cheap melodrama and crummy horror.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Amityville II: The Possession appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed edition was examined for this review. I can’t say I expected much from the movie’s visuals, but I found the flick to offer a surprisingly strong transfer.

Sharpness always looked great. Virtually no softness crept into the image. Instead, I found the movie to consistently appear quite tight and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and only a little light edge enhancement ever became apparent. Print flaws stayed minor. I saw a bit more grain than I might like, but only a few sporadic examples of specks popped up in this mostly clean transfer.

Possession didn’t attempt a dynamic palette, but it demonstrated solid colors. The flick stayed with a natural look much of the time, though some of the spookier scenes showed sickly greens to match the story’s tone. The DVD replicated all of them well, though the green lighting occasionally looked a little dense. Blacks were nicely deep and firm. Low-light shots seemed slightly thick at times, but not badly so, as shadows usually were smooth. Overall, I felt quite pleased with this stronger than anticipated transfer.

Nothing terrific came from the monaural soundtrack of Amityville II: The Possession, but the audio seemed perfectly satisfactory for a flick from 1982. Speech always sounded natural and distinctive, with no edginess or intelligibility issues. The score was slightly shrill but not bad, as the music usually demonstrated decent definition and range. Effects also occasionally seemed a bit rough, though not badly so. The elements could have displayed a bit more clarity and boldness, but they were acceptably lively. Though there wasn’t anything special on display here, Possession offered adequate audio.

While the first Amityville flick offered a decent set of extras, don’t expect much from its sequel. Amityville II includes nothing more than a trailer.

A half-assed combination of The Amityville Horror and The Exorcist, Amityville II: The Possession lacks any sign of competency. The real story manifests potential, but the final result offers nothing more than cheap horror melodrama. The DVD presents surprisingly strong visual quality along with perfectly solid audio. It lacks any substantial extras, though. A poor follow-up to a bad movie, Possession is a waste of time.

Note that you can find this DVD of Amityville II: The Possession on its own or as part of a boxed set called “The Amityville Horror Collection”. This package also includes a special edition of The Amityville Horror, Amityville 3-D, and a bonus disc titled Amityville Confidential. The three films can be purchased individually, but Amityville Confidential is exclusive to that release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9285 Stars Number of Votes: 14
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