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The Amityville Horror

Promotional Poster for The Amityville Horror
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff
Elliot Geisinger
Ronald Saland
Written by Jay Anson (novel)
Sandor Stern (screenplay)
Starring James Brolin
Margot Kidder
Rod Steiger
Don Stroud
Murray Hamilton
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography Fred J. Koenekamp
Editing by Robert Brown Jr.
Distributed by 1979-1981
American International Pictures
Orion Pictures Corporation
Release date(s) United States July 27, 1979
Running time 117 min.
Country United States United States
Language English
Gross revenue $86,432,520 (USA)
Followed by Amityville II: The Possession

The Amityville Horror is a 1979 horror film based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Jay Anson. The film was directed by Stuart Rosenberg and stars James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger. The music score was composed by Lalo Schifrin. It is the first movie in the Amityville Horror saga.

The story is based on the reported real-life experiences of the Lutz family who after purchasing and moving into their new home on 112 Ocean Avenue, a house where a mass murder had been committed the year before, experiences a series of frightening paranormal events, causing them to flee the house only 28 days after moving in. These events have been the subject of much controversy.



The on-location scenes of The Amityville Horror were filmed at a house in Toms River, New Jersey, which had been converted to look like the 112 Ocean Avenue home after the authorities in Amityville denied permission for filming on the actual location. Exterior scenes were also filmed in Toms River and Point Pleasant Beach. Local police and ambulance workers would play extras in the film, while the Toms River Volunteer Fire Company was used to provide the rain during several scenes. Jay Anson's screenplay, based upon his bestselling novel, was rejected by the producers, who opted for a version written by Sandor Stern. Indoor shots were filmed in MGM studios in California.

Because promotional materials for the film showed the actual Ocean Avenue house, current owners Jim and Barbara Cromerty filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers.

James Brolin was hesitant when first offered the role of George Lutz. Told that there was no script, he obtained a copy of Anson's novel to read. Brolin started the book and read until two o'clock in the morning. He had hung up a pair of his pants in the room earlier and during an especially tense passage of the book, the pants fell to the floor. Brolin jumped from his chair in fright. It was then that Brolin decided to do the movie. Brolin became friendly with George Lutz and his family, though he was highly doubtful of their story. Brolin later said he couldn't get a job for two years because of his performance in this film, despite starring in both 1980's Night of the Juggler and 1981's High Risk.


The Amityville Horror was one of the most successful films produced by an independent studio at that time. It was a huge box office success, earning more than $86 million in the USA. [1][2][3] However, the film received poor reviews from critics such as Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert, the latter describing it as "dreary and terminally depressing".[4]

Lalo Schifrin's musical score was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost out to the score for A Little Romance by Georges Delerue. It is sometimes claimed that this score was the one rejected in 1972 for The Exorcist, but Schifrin has denied this in interviews.[5]

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