Category Archives: Horror films

Really Awful Movies: Ep 187 – The Amityville Horror

The Amityville Horror has spawned a seemingly countless number of both sequels and imitators.

All the stuff we’ve come to expect from the genre is here: the devil, cat scares, warnings, strange doings, a wigged out pet, creepy dolls, the works…

The 1979 American supernatural horror film, directed by Stuart Rosenberg (who is best known for Cool Hand Luke), is based on Jay Anson’s 1977 novel of the same name, which was a big hit.

It’s Installment 1 of the Amityville franchise. A remake was produced by Michael Bay in 2005, and starring Ryan Reynolds. Neither of us saw it, or intends to, but that’s neither here nor there.

The Amityville story is based on alleged supernatural events experienced by the Lutz family who bought a new home on 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, Long Island, New York. The infamous abode is a house where a mass murder had been committed the year before, a whole family gunned down while they slept. After the parents (here played by James Brolin and Margot Kidder) moved into their new house, they claimed a series of frightening paranormal events occurred, many of which were demonstrated to be false.

There’s not much to be said about this film, but its reputation does precede it. The opening Lalo Schifrin salvo is haunting (but the children’s chorus bit has subsequently been overused). The performances are all over the map.

Robert Ebert, who in his review of the film said he met and spoke with George Lutz once at an airport, said this: In order to be a horror movie, a horror movie needs a real Horror. The creature in “Alien” was truly gruesome. The case of possession in “The Exorcist” was profoundly frightening. The problem with “The Amityville Horror” is that, in a very real sense, there’s nothing there.

That’s probably right. The first third is dynamite and it slowly erodes all the goodwill built up.

Listen for yourself!

Really Awful Movies: Ep 186 – The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

On today’s episode, a journey to the Valley of the Sun…”death” valley, as it were in this serviceable, yet flawed remake of the Wes Craven classic, The Hills Have Eyes.

In this 2006 flick, Alexandre Aja is behind the camera lens (he of, the new-wave French classic, Haute Tension and Piranha 3D). And we get a little preamble featuring some nuclear scientists in hazmat suits and Geiger counters, roaming around in a desert setting. Soon, they’re poleaxed / bludgeoned to death…and we know something is lurking in this highly radioactive locale.

Cut to a more conventional horror set-up: the road trip. There’s nothing more American than going away for a long weekend in an RV or a trailer with the family, and venturing out somewhere along one of the many interstates that dot the nation. In The Hills Have Eyes, the Carter Family (which includes pops, mom, their two daughters, son, grand-daughter and son-in-law) is out crossing the desert to try to get to California.

That staple of the horror film, the seedy gas station attendant, leads the Carters down the garden path when he suggests there’s a short-cut that’ll save the family “two hours!” Soon, a spiked belt stops the family’s pickup and Gulfstream trailer, sending them careening into a rock. And whoops, they’re stranded.

And we all know what’s lurkin’ in them hills.

On this episode of the Really Awful Movies Podcast, we explore the millennium phenomenon of remakes, the various horror franchises that were given a re-imagining in the 2000s, how nuclear weapons/warfare is treated in the original Hills Have Eyes compared with its successors, where Wes Craven stands in the pantheon of horror directors, the sensibilities of Alexandre Aja, characterizations that focus on Red / Blue state cultural differences, female characters, pet demises, and much much more!!!

Tune in each and every week to the Really Awful Movies Podcast for genre films of all stripes, predominantly horror.