Forget Freddy and Jason. There’s one horror villain that’s inspired more sequels and spinoffs than any other, and it’s not a masked killer – it’s a goddamn house.
By my count, the just-announced Amityville 1974 will be the 24th film with ties to the Amityville series, and that’s not even counting doc My Amityville Horror or the iconic Long Island home’s cameo in The Conjuring 2.
The title Amityville 1974 basically gives it away, but this entry in the jaw-droppingly resilient franchise will be a prequel, digging into the real-life murders that transpired at 112 Ocean Avenue in 1974. That tragic crime, in which adult son Ronald DeFeo Jr. shotgun-blasted his parents and four younger siblings to death, is the foundation for the “haunting” chronicled by the home’s next residents in Jay Anson’s best-seller, The Amityville Horror – billed as a true story in the 1977 book and the 1979 hit movie starring Margot Kidder and James Brolin.
As it happens, there’s already a prequel based on the mass murder that started it all (1982's Amityville II: The Possession), but overall the series, which is mostly populated with straight-to-video films, has been more loosely inspired by the ghost story (the title Amityville Dollhouse tells you all you need to know, though there’s also been a possessed lamp, a curiously familiar asylum, and found footage in the mix over the years). The last Amityville movie with any sort of profile was Amityville: The Awakening, filmed in 2014 but not released until 2017, and which can’t be recommended even to diehard Jennifer Jason Leigh fans.
This brings us to Amityville 1974 (though the idea for the film has been bouncing around since 2017 or so, according to a Variety report). A press release from producers Wonderfilm Media says it will deliver “a truly unique and terrifying vision for the fright franchise” but there’s not much elaboration beyond that; writer-director Casey La Scala adds “This is a story that takes its jumping-off point from the true facts surrounding the DeFeo tragedy, but also focuses on the human drama that took place inside a family as they were relentlessly stalked by a terrifying evil.”
No word on casting or when we might be seeing new light shining through those eye-shaped windows – it’s set to begin filming in November, per the press release – but if you really have a hankering for some Amityville, there are plenty of other films (ranging from great to just awful) ready to fill the void.