The Amityville Horror: Special Edition/Gold Edition (1979)

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Released 15-Mar-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Introduction-To Audio Commentary By Dr. Hans Holzer
Audio Commentary-Dr. Hans Holzer PHD Parapsychology
Featurette-For God's Sake, Get Out!
Featurette-Documentary: History's Mysteries, Amityville: The Haunting
Featurette-Documentary:History's Mysteries, Amityville: Horror Or Hoax
Featurette-Documentary: The Amityville Horror Sneak peek
Radio Spots-7
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 113:50
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stuart Rosenberg
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring James Brolin
Margot Kidder
Rod Steiger
Don Stroud
Murray Hamilton
John Larch
Natasha Ryan
K.C. Martel
Meeno Peluce
Michael Sacks
Helen Shaver
Amy Wright
Val Avery
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Lalo Schifrin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    When The Amityville Horror was released back in 1979, it caused a sensation worldwide and terrified millions. It was widely believed at that time to be a totally true story, adapted from the best selling novel by Jay Anson. Since then, many differing theories and allegations have been tabled, suggesting the whole story was an elaborate hoax. Whether the events are true, partly true or a total hoax, this film still deserves to hold a place with other ground-breaking films of the same genre.

    The film, which was made by American Independent Pictures, has grossed a little under ninety million dollars. This figure is sure to expand even further with the new 2005 version of the film being released, thus generating new interest in this original version.

    The film begins with the true, infamous DeFeo murders, which took place in the house in November 1974. Ronald DeFeo Jnr systematically murdered his entire family in the early hours of the morning, claiming voices told him to do it.

    Some thirteen months later, The Lutz family, knowing the circumstances of the sale, purchased the house for an excellent price. George (James Brolin) and Kathy (Margot Kidder) and their young family move into their dream home and begin to put their personal touches on the house.

    Kathy has arranged for long time friend and priest, Father Delaney (Rod Steiger), to bless the house. When he arrives, the Lutzes are busy working outside, so Father Delaney decides not to disturb them, and proceeds to perform the blessing without them. The priest is forced from the house in terror by an unseen entity. Any attempts made by him to warn Kathy of the dangers in the house are met with resistance from this ghostly source.

    The blessing attempt sets in motion many frightening episodes that will have the Lutz family flee the house in terror some twenty days after first moving in. Episodes such as flies infesting a particular room, an unseen play friend in a rocking chair, a black ooze, a secret room in the basement, some poltergeist activity and the fact that George's behaviour takes an unsettling turn. These are just a few of the treats the house dishes up to the Lutz family before they can take no more and leave.

    The Amityville Horror has very much dated in its ability to shock and terrify an audience. A couple of scenes still work quite well, and manage to create an unease more so than terror. The acting is indeed very close to high camp at times, as Margot Kidder even suggests in one of the featurettes on this DVD. But really, the acting is very consistent with similar films of the same genre.

    People will debate the veracity of The Amityville Horror for as long as the film has an audience, which as history already suggests may be a very long time.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is really quite good.

    The film is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is very sharp and clear throughout. Blacks were clean and bold, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was quite good overall.

    Colours were very well rendered, keeping the levels very subtle. There is no use of vibrant colour, which fits perfectly with the sombre, uneasy tone of the film. With this in mind, the colours of autumn appear perfect in outdoor scenes. Skin tones were also excellent.

    I found no MPEG artefacts. Film-to video artefacts were all very well controlled. I noticed some minor edge enhancement at times, but no problems with aliasing. For a film of this age, I found very little in the way of film artefacts.

    The only available subtitles are English for the hearing impaired. These are available for the feature, and all the extras, including the audio commentary. They are in white, are easy to read, and are very accurate.

    The feature disc is a single sided, dual layered disc with the layer change occurring at 61:38 . It could not have been better placed, and was extremely difficult to find.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is also excellent.

    There are two audio tracks on the disc. The default track is English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). There is also an English audio commentary presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). Both are quality soundtracks.

    The dialogue quality was clear and easy to understand. I found no problems with audio sync.

    The musical score by Lalo Schifrin has mixed results. There are some wonderfully eerie moments in the score, with a children's choir adding a considerable amount of unease. But the Psycho-like shrieks at 59:06, 76:22 and 104:36, which were all at shock moments of the film, tended to cheapen the score.

    The surround channels were used well to enhance the viewing experience. The opening scenes of thunder were moved nicely around the rear speakers. Thankfully, the surrounds were not over used, and give the viewer some nice effects. Some examples of this are wood chopping at 29:27 and flies at the window at 61:50.

    The subwoofer was very effective in highlighting the rumble in thunder and general shock moments in the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A good selection of extras are presented in this two disc set, some more interesting than others.

    The menus are simply outstanding, and are genuinely creepy. They are 16x9 enhanced and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) audio. Most of the menus are animated with scenes, sound and music from the film incorporated into the wonderful design.

Disc One:    

Introduction to audio commentary by Dr Hans Holzer (1:17)

    Dr Holzer has a PhD in Parapsychology, and was one of the people involved in investigating the house when the Lutz family fled. He gives a brief introduction to his audio commentary.

Audio Commentary - Dr Hans Holzer (PhD - Parapsychology)

    I found this commentary quite boring actually. Dr Holzer tends to repeat himself quite often, and also constantly contradicts the Lutz's story, even though he says he believes their story. We are told his theories about the events and the reasons for the disturbances. He claims certain elements of the film are the result of Hollywood, and are pure fiction. But in two documentaries, also presented on this DVD,  the Lutz family account these same events as being true. It's difficult to know why he was asked to do this commentary, as he spends much of the time criticizing the film for not telling the "true" story. He also very cleverly side-steps the main issues and mentions many of the books that he has written. There are also many lengthy pauses in this commentary, which overall I found very little benefit in listening to. I would have given up on it after about thirty minutes if not for the purposes of this review.

Disc Two:

Featurette - For God's Sake, Get Out!  (20:40)

    Fairly recent interviews with James Brolin and Margot Kidder, discussing their beginnings in the business through to obtaining roles in the film. They both discuss their experiences with making The Amityville Horror, and how it affected their careers. The interviews are cut around scenes and still images from the film.

Featurette - Histories Mysteries - Amityville: The Haunting (42:00)

    This is a History Channel documentary about the real house in Amityville, and the events leading up to the Lutz family purchasing the house. It initially concentrates on the DeFeo murders, which occurred in 1974, inside the infamous house. Then it features interviews with George and Kathy Lutz  about the events inside the house when they moved in, some thirteen months after the murders.

Featurette - Histories Mysteries - Amityville: Horror or Hoax (42:29)

    Another documentary from The History Channel, almost a part two to the previous documentary, this time focusing on the possibility of an elaborate hoax. Many theories are put forward by sceptics as to how and why the Lutzes would construct a lie based on the infamous history of the house. It features interviews with George and Kathy Lutz and sceptic Roxanne Salch Kaplan.

Featurette - The Amityville Horror: A Sneak Preview (5:26

    The Amityville Horror has fallen victim to the Hollywood obsession of the remake. This is a preview of the new 2005 version of the film starring Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George.

Theatrical Trailer (2:25)

    The original trailer of the film is in excellent condition, with the traditional deep voice-over of so many trailers from the seventies. Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

Radio Spots

    A collection of seven short radio spots. All are presented with the audio playing over a static screen. Subtitles are also available.

  • The First Night (0:27)
  • The Fifth Night (0:31)
  • The Tenth Night (0:30)
  • The Fifteenth Night (0:29)
  • The Last Night (0:30)
  • You'll Never Forget (0:28)
  • Running For Their Lives (0:30)

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

          At the time of this review, only a standard presentation of The Amityville Horror exists in R1. This disc is very much a bare bones release, with no extras and a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio track.

        However, in April 2005, the film will be released in two separate editions to coincide with the new 2005 version of the film.

        The Amityville Horror Special Edition two DVD set will be released in R1 on 11th April 2005. From the small amount of information I have been able to glean, it appears the R1 version will have the same features as this R4 version. The R1 version may contain a couple of extra languages and subtitles, namely French and Spanish.

        The Amityville Horror Special Edition Gift Set will be released in R1 on 5th April 2005. This is a four disc set featuring the films The Amityville Horror, Amityville 2 - The Possession, Amityville 3: The Demon and a bonus disc, Amityville Confidential. The Amityville Horror disc in this set contains the audio commentary by Dr Hans Holzer, Amityville sneak peek, the documentary For God's Sake, Get Out!, the original trailer and radio spots. All the films have subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

        Unless you want all the Amityville films in a set, or require French or Spanish subtitles, I would stick with the R4 Special Edition.

    Summary

        The Amityville Horror has earned a place in the hall of fame of the horror genre. It was, and still is, a very popular film, even though some of the scenes may have lost the ability to really terrify an audience.

        The video and audio transfers are both excellent.

        Most of the extras presented on the discs are of great value and relevance to the overall package.

  • Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Thursday, April 07, 2005
    Review Equipment
    DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
    DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
    AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
    SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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