The 1982 “prequel” Amityville II: The Possession is a film that is so grimy and icky and yucky and disgusting that you’ll want to take a shower right after you watch it. And then you’ll probably end up taking two more showers, just to be sure that you’ve washed the film away.
Seriously, this is an amazingly disturbing film.
Claiming to show how that infamous house in Amityville, New York came to be haunted in the first place, this film opens with The Montelli Family moves into a big house with quarter moon windows. The family patriarch is Anthony (Burt Young), a former cop who walks with a cane. Anthony is an angry monster, an abusive husband, and a terrible father. His wife, Dolores (Rutanya Alda), lives her life in denial, insisting that a new house means a new beginning and continually praying that her family will find peace. Anthony and Dolores have four children. The two youngest are at the mercy of their angry father. Teenagers Patricia (Diane Franklin) and Sonny (Jack Magner) are both looking forward to the day that they can escape their family.
As soon as the Montellis move in, strange things start to happen. It turns out that there’s a strange tunnel in the basement, one that appears to lead to nowhere. When obscene messages appear on the walls of the house, Anthony starts to beat the youngest children but, fortunately, Sonny grabs a rifle and points it at his father’s head. When the local priest, Father Adamsky (James Olson), shows up to bless the house, he ends up getting so disgusted at Anthony that he leaves without finishing.
In fact, Father Adamsy is a remarkable ineffectual priest. When he attempts to talk to Sonny, he simply assumes that Sonny isn’t talking because he’s rude. What Adamsky doesn’t suspect is that Sonny’s being rude because he’s been possessed by a demon for the basement! When Patricia confesses that she and Sonny have been having sex, Adamsky doesn’t do anything about it. When Patricia tries to call him to let him know that her brother appears to be possessed, Adamsky refuses to answer the phone and instead goes skiing for the weekend.
And, of course, while Adamsky is gone, Sonny grabs that rifle and, in a nightmare-inducing series of scenes, kills everyone in the house…
Of course, when Father Adamsky returns, he feels guilty and he decides to perform an exorcism. MAYBE HE SHOULD HAVE DONE THAT EARLIER! But no … he had to go skiing…
Anyway, Amityville II: The Possession is a deeply icky film. It’s undeniably effective and has a lot of scary moments but it’s not an easy film to sit through. Between Anthony beating his family and Sonny walking into Patricia’s room and asking her to “play a game,” this is a film that really gets under your skin. You’ll never forget it but, at the same time, you’ll also never want to watch it again.
Interestingly enough, Amityville II was directed by Damiano Damiani, an Italian director who is probably best known for movies like A Bullet For The General and Confessions of a Police Captain, genre films that often featured a subversive political subtext. Though Amityvile II is not overly political, the film’s portrait of the suburban Montelli family as a ticking time bomb does definitely fit in with Damiani’s other work. Damiani reportedly set out to make the most disturbing film that he possibly could and he succeeded.