Franchise Review: Amityville II – The Possession

A dysfunctional family moves into a new house, which proves to be satanic, resulting in the demonic possession of their teenage son.

Three years after “The Amityville Horror” lit up theatres and terrified millions worldwide the film finally got the sequel treatment.

I can still remember the first time I watched this sequel, I had absolutely zero expectations going in to it because as we all know sequels to such popular films have a reputation of never really matching up to the original (you know exactly what I’m on about). I wasn’t expecting what was about to happen.

Over 100 minutes later, as I sat there on my own having watched the film, I found myself with my jaw firmly on the floor and my eyeballs sticking out like a cartoon character. It was a hell of a-lot to take in, but one thing for certain is that it definitely lived up to the original, perhaps maybe even bettered it.

The film touched base on a couple of taboo subjects but it’s mostly remembered for one in particular, incest. That scene had me feeling so uncomfortable that it makes me squirm in my seat every damn time. My only question is, he was possessed, what was her excuse?

Our lead actor, Jack Magner, puts in a stellar performance. It’s a shame he retired from acting so young as I feel he could’ve had a very bright future in the industry. Though I will say that as good as the film is it certainly owes a-lot to “The Exorcist”, those who’ve seen it will know what I’m on about.

“Amityville II: The Possession” is a fantastic sequel, it shows you that it is possible to make a sequel without losing any quality if done properly.

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

The house in the film, as in the original The Amityville Horror (1979) movie, is not the actual house as depicted in the best-selling novel, as that dwelling was unavailable to shoot in for both films. The home in both movies was a Colonial style replica situated in Toms River, New Jersey.

According to an interview with George Lutz at website, (Lutz’ twenty-eight days in the real-life house provided the base for The Amityville Horror (1979)), Lutz wanted this sequel to be based on John G. Jones’ book “The Amityville Horror Part II”. However, producer Dino De Laurentiis, in conjunction with American International Pictures, made this sequel based on Hans Holzer’s book ‘Murder in Amityville”. Lutz sued De Laurentiis. He was unsuccessful but did manage to force them to out a disclaimer on the posters that read “This film has no affiliation with George and Kathy Lutz.”

Jan and Mark Montelli were portrayed by real life brother and sister Erika Katz and Brent Katz.

The Montelli family in this film were fictional characters and loosely based on the real life DeFeo family.

Debut theatrical feature film of actor Jack Magner whose only other screen acting credit after this movie was in Stephen King’s Firestarter (1984).

Even though the Montelli family is based on the real life DeFeo family, there are a few creative liberties taken. For example, the movie shows the family just moving into the home at the film’s beginning and being murdered weeks later, when in real life, the DeFeos had lived in the home for about nine years prior to the murder. All of the children’s ages were correct for the most part, but one of the sons was omitted from the movie; the Defeo family had three sons and not two as the movie shows. Some of the family drama did actually happen but is exaggerated. The incestuous relationship between the older siblings was based on Ronald and Dawn’s rumoured incestuous relationship. The older son was also shown to be a clean cut and average young man, where Ronald DeFeo was a drug addict with a criminal background.

After director Damiano Damiani’s original cut was shown to test audience, several scenes had to be cut out for various reasons, one of them being the negative reaction of audience on the scene where Anthony anally rapes Delores and scene where Sonny and Patricia have incestuous sex. This scene was added into the script by Damiani who wanted to really upset the viewers. Original scene was lot more graphic and sexual, while in the movie it cuts to the next scene right after Sony starts kissing Patricia. Some other deleted scenes were shown on lobby cards and stills for the movie, like the scene where Anthony is sitting outside the house drinking and cleaning the gun and scene where Jan is pushing Mark’s head under the water while he is in the bathtub. Theatrical trailer also shows shot of Jan and Mark looking at the window and holding hands. Only deleted scene which was ever released in some form is so called “Lost Souls” scene where souls that are within the house appear in front of Adamsky during the ending of the movie and he blesses them. No actual footage was released but UK special collector’s edition DVD includes several stills from this deleted scene.

Even though this film was marketed as a prequel, It is often debated whether or not the film is actually a prequel or sequel to The Amityville Horror (1979), as the depicted family massacre contradicts the opening of the first film, as the family is awake and chased around the house by a possessed Sonny with the bodies removed in the morning when it is well known that the family was murdered in their sleep with the bodies removed in the middle of the night. The events of the first film and George Lutz and Kathy Lutz are also mentioned in the film’s tagline as having been preceded by this film despite being full of elements that are clearly from the 1980s, such as a miniature “Walkman” radio/headphone set and the presence of 1982 cars, televisions, etc. Technically speaking, this is an unrelated standalone film that just happens to be based on an earlier part of the infamous story of Amityville while simultaneously being placed in present day, while having II in the title for some reason.

In the same 1982 year that the movie was released, the film’s screenwriter Tommy Lee Wallace wrote and directed Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) which also launched in theaters in 1982. Both movies were sequels. Amityville II: The Possession (1982) was the first produced screenplay of Wallace.

Ed Warren and Lorraine Warren, famous paranormal investigators and demonologists whose stories inspired The Conjuring films, served as demonology advisors for the film. The Amityville case was their most infamous investigation and was adapted for the opening scene of The Conjuring 2 (2016).

Principal photography began March 8, 1982 at the same house in Toms River, New Jersey that the previous film used. After two weeks on location in New Jersey, unlike The Amityville Horror (1979), studio shooting was done in Mexico City for eight or nine weeks at Estudios Churubusco Azteca S.A.

In a 2018 interview, Diane Franklin talked about her infamous incestuous sex scene. She said while she definitely understood the peculiarity of it, she didn’t have a huge issue with doing it. “I never had a brother, so luckily, I didn’t have that association or the weirdness that went along with it.” Franklin did admit filming the scene did end up being very awkward, but not because of the content. It was the producers who made her nervous. Shot in Mexico with no parents or chaperones at her side, the script called for the actress to appear topless, which she agreed to because she had no issue taking off her top in front of cast and crew. She’d already done it in The Last American Virgin (1982). But when producers tried to persuade her to go fully nude, she balked and successfully stood her ground. “They said I was beautiful and they really wanted me to do it. I said thank you very much but no.” Franklin laughed. “They got around it by shooting me from the back, which I had no say in. And that was that.”

The Amityville address of the house in the film is 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville.

Sonny has a poster of Rocky (1976) in his room. Burt Young appeared in the film and its sequels as Paulie Pennino.

In a 2017 interview, Diane Franklin talked about this film: “It was fantastic, it was so much fun. I knew I wanted to do a Horror film, because it’s sort of a rite of passage for actors and actresses. You’ve gotta do a Horror film, you have to have that experience. You get to die, you get to do running and screaming. It’s a fun genre to do, so I knew that I wanted to do it. What I found really amazing about Amityville II is, like you said, people remember me. Obviously, I know, it has incest and that’s something that was really shocking and striking in the film, and the nudity involved. It’s very kind of real, there’s a reality to it. In a way, I kind of wish the film would have stayed on the family more and not gone to the possession aspect of the film. Because of the rights of the film, they had to split the film up so part of it is about the possession. You suddenly find in the middle of the film that you’re watching another movie, I think it had to do with the rights. It was very real and I think the acting was really good. I think Jack, Rutanya, Burt, and James Olsen did an amazing job. It was very gritty and took you off guard, but I was always surprised that people remembered the film out of the three. That even people would bring it up, because it was just the middle film.

Despite the subject matter of the film, Diane Franklin in an interview reassured that the mood was very jovial on the set, and that the cast and crew got along rather well. She did admit that Jack Magner was rather distant from the cast and crew, often keeping to himself.

Burt Young’s father died early on during filming.

American directorial debut of Italian director Damiano Damiani.

The image that the haunted paintbrushes paint on Jan and Mark’s bedroom wall is that of the demonic pig Jodie, that was seen in the previous film.

When Father Adamsky is blessing Dolores’ room, she asks him to bless her bed as well. As he prepares to bless it, Dolores screams when she sees blood on the floor. As she’s screaming, an extremely quick and dimly lit shot appears of a man standing over a a woman heading down a flight of stairs. The woman has her head turned as if to look at him, and her hair is streaming behind her like there is either a strong wind or she is turning her head really quickly. The scene has to be watched frame by frame to spot it.

In an interview, screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti described Amityville II: The Possession (1982) as a missed opportunity. The project originally had no connection with The Amityville Horror (1979) at all. Dardano was working on a film called “The Ogre” with producer Dino De Laurentiis in London, and was a horror film about an ogre terrorizing a family. Prolific author Colin Wilson was brought on to collaborate on the script. Then Dino contacted director Damiano Damiani to direct “The Ogre” which Dardano felt was a mistake. Damiano disliked the script for “The Ogre” and told Dardano that he would convince Dino to change his mind and make another movie instead. Damiano did so much that he demolished “The Ogre” and so the project was shelved. Then he broke off his relationship with Dino, only to resume it a year later to shoot “Amityville II: The Possession”, in which Dardano participated on the first version of the script.

As for “The Ogre”, the concept was later reused by Dardano when he wrote the script for Brivido giallo: The Ogre (1989) directed by Lamberto Bava.

Damiano Damiani spoke little English during the production, requiring the presence of a translator to help communicate with the cast and crew.

Rutanya Alda and Diane Franklin became good friends on the set of the film.

In the first film, as Kathy Lutz is looking through the archived newspapers in the library, she finds a clipping featuring Ronald DeFeo and is shocked to see his uncanny resemblance to George Lutz. His incarnation in this film, Sonny Montelli, obviously doesn’t fit that description fueling the disputes on whether or not this film is a sequel or prequel.

Father Adamsky’s car is a, 1977 Chevrolet Caprice Classic.

This is Diane Franklin’s second film. She first starred in The Last American Virgin, also released in 1982 just before this one. She was topless in both. Then she appeared topless again in her third film Second Time Lucky (1984). While admitting in an interview that her willingness to take her clothes off helped kickstart her career, it also affected it negatively. She was only getting offers for roles that involving being topless or even full nudity. She didn’t want to be known as the actress that loves showing her boobs to the world, so after Second Time Lucky she told her agent she won’t take any more roles involving nudity. She then turned down tons of film work, all wanting her to strip naked, and ended doing mostly TV roles.

The Montelli cars are a, 1982 Lincoln Continental and a 1982 Ford Granada Station Wagon. Sonny’s car is a, 1973 Jensen-Healey Series I.

The explosion sequence was a real special effects explosion utilizing a particular type of highly flammable chemical which explodes flames that burn out immediately. However, the special effects explosion didn’t quite go as planned and burnt one side of the house.

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