Tag Archives: supernatural horror movies

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 174 – The Sentinel

The Sentinel is a 1977 American horror film based on the 1974 novel of the same name (which we haven’t read). The source material is courtesy of author Jeffrey Konvitz (who assisted penning the screenplay). His co-writer was the film’s director Michael Winner. Winner wowed us with, if you’ll excuse us, a real “winner” in the Death Wish Series. That one is pretty darn awesome.

And here, we’re back in New York City (although in Death Wish, as filming there became cost-prohibitive later in the series, it started to look less and less like anything resembling The Big Apple). The Sentinel is about a young NYC model who’s on the market for a pad (And this was before the days when you’d have to fork over $2500 / month for a studio the size of a sedan).

She finds a place to rent! It’s Brooklyn Heights shambolic mansion that has been converted into different apartments, each populated by a bunch of weirdos, including a fay Burgess Meredith traipsing around with a budgie.

The guy residing on the top floor though, is an excommunicated priest…and the building is…wait for it…A PORTAL TO HELL!  People, always check the rental agreements…Between that an a landlord asking for an illegal security deposit, it’s a tough grind out there for a tenant! Please see, Roman Polanski’s…uh…The Tenant.

The Sentinel stars a bunch of pretty notable folks: Cristina Raines, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, and Eli Wallach. The film also features Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, John Carradine, Jerry Orbach, Martin Balsam, Tom Berenger, and Beverly D’Angelo.

On this episode of the Really Awful Movies Podcast, we always love it when we can discuss a good, tense, terse, solidly put together supernatural horror film. It’s definitely our least favorite genre, but when it’s done well (as is the case here) boy are the goods delivered.

The Sentinel holds up terrifically well. It’s worth checking out, as is our podcast, uploading EVERY FRIDAY for your listening pleasure.