I had to go back and re-watch Amityville II: The Possession, if only because it seems to be the horror bread-and-butter favorite of Phil Anselmo and his pals. (First, the drummer from Necrophagia praised the 1982 prequel/sequel in the interviews on the band's Through the Eyes of the Undead DVD, then on a much more recent Superjoint Ritual live DVD, Phil takes the time out of a brief interview to rave about it too, and completely out of context at that!) That it should come up twice in hardcore horror-enthusiast Anselmo's video-release library tells me that maybe I missed some elusive greatness the first time around. I did remember Burt Young being intense and frightening as the hair-trigger angry Dad of the family, and on second viewing he did not disappoint. This performance is perhaps the grimiest in a long line of similar roles for Young, including Adrian's throw-the-Thanksgiving-turkey-into-the-alley brother in Rocky, and the thumb-chopping, lye-drinking Bed Bug Eddie in The Pope of Greenwich Village.
Amityville II is one creepy little bit of 80s ugliness—though for sure not a masterpiece—with Bava-seque colored lighting, a bubbling-skin possession motif, a dogged exorcist/priest, and a troublingly effective brother/sister incest subplot. If you aren't put off by some obvious visual references to The Exorcist and other assorted haunted-house movie clichés, you'll find yourself getting into this tale of rapidly escalating family violence and compelling demonic presences. You're also almost guaranteed to have that "need a shower" feeling when you're done.
The movie is based on the first-hand accounts of author Hans Holzer, whose ghost-hunting books captivated me as a youth. Holzer was investigating the haunting of the Lutz family, in the house at 112 Ocean Ave. in Amityville, LI, where the notorious DeFeo murders occurred in 1974. How much the fictional Montellis are intended to represent the DeFeos is questionable; though I haven't read the related books, I tend to think that a lot of liberties were taken. Perhaps someone who's actually bothered to read The Amityville Horror can fill me in.
The first link in the first paragraph of this post will take you to a Web site entirely devoted to the appreciation of this film (their page of audio snippets is especially enjoyable.) But answer me this—why, on their homepage, standing to the left of the priest, is there what appears to be a ghostly image of Kurt Raab in Tenderness of the Wolves?