Flies swarm where they shouldn't, pipes and walls ooze ick, doors fly open, and priests and psychic sensitives cringe and flee in panic. It's definitely a house that audiences will enjoy visiting, especially if unfamiliar with the ending.
I suspect a lot of people will be scared - and thus satisfied - by The Amityville Horror, a film that stoops to some of the oldest and cheapest tricks of the trade in its dogged pursuit of goose bumps. It's a crude haunted-house movie that depends for much of its tension on the possibility that the events that befell George and Kathleen Lutz might be true (though there is considerable evidence that Jay Anson's best-selling book was more fiction that fact). [13 Aug 1979, p.75]
Executive produced by B-movie veteran Samuel Z. Arkoff and indifferently directed by TV-trained Stuart Rosenberg, the film's reputation exceeds its achievements, and the true story angle has been vigorously disputed.
The problem with The Amityville Horror is that, in a very real sense, there's nothing there. We watch two hours of people being frightened and dismayed, and we ask ourselves... what for? If it's real, let it have happened to them. Too bad, Lutzes! If it's made up, make it more entertaining. If they can't make up their minds... why should we?
So many horror-movie clichés have been assembled under the roof of a single haunted house that the effect is sometimes mind-bogglingly messy. There is apparently very little to which the director, Stuart Rosenberg, will not resort. Scary things do happen in the movie, but they're always telegraphed in advance and make too little sense to have a cumulative effect.
A tedious, lamebrained horror movie, which begins with the promising premise of a haunted house in the suburbs (poltergeists in the barbecue pit?) and quickly degenerates into a display of pretentious camera angles by director Stuart Rosenberg.