Movie of the Week: Amityville II: The Possession

There are very few sequels which equal or surpass their original film. For every Silence of the Lambs there is a Caddyshack II. For every Exorcist III or Terminator 2: Judgment Day, there is a Jason Goes To Hell or a Jaws: The Revenge. Most sequels are more of the same, and that seems to be what a lot of audiences want. If it worked the first time, a retread will do.

Some sequels, though, are ambitious. I think the makers of Amityville II: The Possession decided early on to throw everything against the wall and see what stuck, no matter how bat-shit crazy the idea may have seemed. A lot of things stuck and it makes you wonder what was left on the editing room floor.

Amityville II is a prequel to The Amityville Horror, the 1979 hit starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder. In that first film, the Lutz family experienced a series of supernatural events after moving into the former DeFeo home at 112 Ocean Avenue. Ronald DeFeo, Jr., used a shotgun to kill six members of his family in the house. It is widely believed evil has an address and it has an Amityville zip code. Amityville II concerns the Montelli family, stand-ins for the DeFeos.

Anthony and Dolores Montelli buy the house on Ocean Avenue and move in it with their four children: Sonny, about 18-years-old; Patricia, slightly younger than Sonny; Mark and Jan, both of whom are in the 5-8 years-old range. It may seem odd to list their ages, but, trust me, it will be important later on when Sonny becomes demon possessed and has an incestuous sexual affair with his sister, Patricia.

You read that correctly. It was 1982 and biological brother/sister love sailed passed the censors.

On moving day, we learn right away that Anthony can be a hot-tempered tyrant, alternately ruling the roost with a menacing look, a poison tongue or an iron fist. He and Sonny often butt heads, and mom, Dolores, while trying to be a buffer between father and son and the rest of them, is no less a victim.

Also, immediately upon moving in, the weird stuff starts to happen, such as Dolores being groped by something unseen in the basement. Strange knocks at the front door send Anthony for the shotgun while a whirlwind tears up the youngest children’s bedroom. Graffiti appears on the wall in the form of a crude drawing of a demonic beast and the phrases, “dishonor thy father” and “pigs”. Dad takes a belt to the youngsters believing they are responsible. Mom thinks something more sinister is afoot and calls in their priest to bless the house.

A good performance car can go from zero to sixty miles per hour in under five seconds; Amityville II: The Possession goes from creepy to outrageously wacky in the space of an hour and forty-four minutes. Aside from the abusive patriarch and the Exorcist-themed sibling incest, there’s also murder and a rogue attempt at an exorcism with a morally conflicted priest. Toss in a lot of shouting, chasing and demon moaning and you have an underrated, amazingly watchable classic.