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Take Two 

by Leah Sottile

When it comes to remakes, what was first implied is later shown on screen -- and that applies to most any kind of remake, whether it's horror, romance or kung fu. A sexy romance in the old days is remade into a lusty bedroom scene; shadowy ghosts are made into detailed masterpieces through special effects. It's the dumbing down of cinema, where viewers can't be teased and where imagination is brushed aside. Striptease turns to full frontal when it comes to remakes, and the latest Amityville Horror is a perfect example of how showing it all may be temporarily satisfying. But it can still get pretty old pretty fast.

The original (and recent) thriller was based on the true story of the DeFeo family, an upstate New York family that was murdered in their beds by the family's eldest son. The film took that story, pinned the murders on the family's father and blamed it on demons that haunted the house. When a new family, the Lutzes, moved into the house, those same demons began to possess them. Unleash the horror.

The 1979 version of Amityville showed quite a bit; black muck filled the haunted house's pipes, the same stuff flowed down the walls, and there was no shortage of blood. The scariest part of the original was Jody, the ghost of the youngest DeFeo, which haunted the youngest child in both films. We never saw Jody, only "seeing" her when rocking chairs rocked on their own and when closet doors slammed unprovoked.

But the most recent Amityville follows in the footsteps of other remakes, showing much more, adding Hollywood sounds, special effects and a lot more gore. In fact, Jody is an actual little girl in this one, whose rotting face and bullet-holed forehead pops up throughout the film.

The house is still haunted in this version, but for different reasons. On scares alone, this Amityville is chock-full of them. In fact, this Amityville has every aspect of every scary movie ever created: blood, guts, bullets, axes, drowning, murder, possession, bugs, creepy kids, ghosts and SO MUCH evil. This Amityville scares differently than the original, and the scenes that were terrifying from in the '79 version hardly cause a blink in this one (especially the "get out" scene). The scare here is a modern kind -- the kind you forget about within a few minutes of the end credits.

Publication date: 04/21/05

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