Amityville II: The Possession Substitutes Slow Burn for Sleazy, Exploitative Haunts

Even after nearly 50 years, the Amityville Haunting may be one of the most instantly recognizable ghost stories and urban legends in America. In November of 1974, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr., shot and murdered his mother, father, and four siblings at 112 Ocean Ave in Amityville, Long Island. Shortly thereafter, George and Kathy Lutz moved into the house with their children. They lasted 28 days before moving out and claiming that paranormal phenomenon haunted them. A book by author Jay Anson entitled The Amityville Horror spurred the 1979 box office hit of the same name. Seven sequels and a remake followed over the years and countless knockoffs have exploited the Amityville name. But the first sequel, Amityville II: The Possession, was one of the only ones to make it to theatres. Critics were only mildly impressed at the time of its release.


Before George and Kathy Lutz, Anthony Montelli and his family moved into 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, Long Island. Almost immediately after unpacking, strange phenomenon increasingly haunt and terrorize the Montelli’s. Soon the oldest son, Sonny, begins hearing voices and seeing horrific images. Voices command him to do unthinkable things to his own family. As he begins to give in to the forces inside the house, the Montelli’s face a demonic evil.

Amityville II: The Possession Wastes Little Time Getting to What Audiences Wanted

Thought the original The Amityville Horror was a box office hit, critics actually weren’t very impressed with it. Among the complaints, critics felt the haunted house thriller was a bit dull and slow. Apparently, Italian director Damiano Damiani took that critique to heart because Amityville II: The Possession is anything but dull. Forget about a slow burn in this sequel. No, Damiani almost immediately throws out haunting tropes, dialing things up to 11 before the fictional Montelli family has unpacked the first box. Taps bleed, beds spin around, mysterious phantom knocking taunts the patriarch, and demonic messages appear on the wall. Most of these things unfold in first 30 minutes or so. As is often the case with these movies, the Montelli’s never consider, you know, just moving out.

…Damiani almost immediately throws out haunting tropes, dialing things up to 11 before the fictional Montelli family has unpacked the first box.

Just about everything in this sequel is heavy-handed and laid on in thick brushes. The Montelli’s aren’t just dysfunctional, they’re circa-1970s Burt Young-level dysfunctional drawing on nearly every Italian-American family stereotype. But what really sets this sequel apart from the original is Damiani’s embracing of the kind of sleaze that characterized 70s exploitation movies. There’s an incest subplot between the possessed eldest son and his sister that gets pushed uncomfortably further than you thought possible. It’s hard to imagine something like what Amityville II: The Possession

Amityville II: The Possession Gives Audiences Two Horror Movies for the Price of One

For maybe half of its runtime, The Possession feels like a lazy, stupid, and often grimy haunted house sequel. And then something strange happens. What you assume will end the thriller – the shooting of the Montelli’s – happens with a lot of time left and Amityville II: The Possession becomes a different movie. Consider it two movies for price of one. Suddenly Damiani’s making an exorcism movie that’s arguably more ridiculous and implausible. But that’s one of the strengths of the sequel. It wholeheartedly puts the pedal to the metal with no regard for logic or taste. As a result, The Possession is often stupid but it’s never boring. And some of the makeup effects for the possessed Sonny Montelli are surprisingly creepy.

But that’s one of the strengths of the sequel. It wholeheartedly puts the pedal to the metal with no regard for logic or taste.

Much like Damiani’s direction, the performances in Amityville II: The Possession are pretty broad. If you’re familiar with Burt Young (Rocky), he ratchets up the stereotypes and sleaze factor as the abusive family patriarch. As the put upon mother and wife, Rutanya Alda (Christmas Evil) earned herself a second Golden Raspberry Award nomination for her animated performance. And Jack Magner – who did nothing of note after this one – often looks outstretched by the demands of the role. Fortunately, these performances are all in keeping with the overall over-the-top nature of the sequel. Only Diane Franklin (Better Off Dead) comes off reasonably well.

Amityville II: The Possession Isn’t a Good Movie – It’s a Good ‘Bad’ Movie

When it was first released, a handful of critics actually preferred Amityville II: The Possession to the 1979 original, The Amityville Horror. Years later, critical reconsideration has even labeled this one something of a good horror movie. That evaluation seems like a bit of a stretch. Occasionally creepy, frequently sleazy, and always somewhat silly, The Possession benefits from any sort of humility. This isn’t so much a good movie as it is a relentlessly over-the-top horror movie that’s never boring. This is exactly the kind of movie that meets the definition of ‘guilty pleasure.’


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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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