The Amityville Horror is one of those stories that’s a part of the American conscience.
So many of us have seen the movie(s), read the books, or, at least, heard the stories. And rightfully so – they’re solid, spooky stories.
If you’re staring at your screen, saying what the heck are you talking about? go here.
If you are an Amityville pro, cool.
But no matter what you know about the topic, let’s get on the same page.
My understanding of the situation is basically this: There was a family living in a quiet, suburban town in Amityville, NY.
One night, one of the family’s sons murdered his parents and siblings. He initially said he was innocent, but later admitted he had done it.
“The voices made me do it!” Kinda.
The guy was known for taking drugs such as heroin and LSD, so when he said that he heard voices telling him to murder his family, that didn’t seem far-fetched.
Voices? Sure. Paranormal? No.
There was a trial. There was a sentence. And that guy was locked away, never to be seen again (he’s still alive, though).
Weird? Tragic? Terrible? Absolutely.
But it gets worse. And… weirder.
After the house had been cleared, another family moved into the home, and this is where the bulk of “paranormal” stuff comes from.
The family, a husband, a wife, and a few kids lived in the house where the murders had taken place for a whopping… 28 days.
Toward the beginning of their stay, they had a Priest come to bless their home. Supposedly, the Priest heard a voice tell him to “get out.”
Later the diocese, I believe, said that this never happened. But that doesn’t stop some from saying that it did. Sometimes people believe what they want to believe, and they won’t let the truth get in their way.
Over the course of the 28 days, the parents say that they saw green goop coming from the walls and ceilings, they heard noises, the father said he felt like something held him down so that he couldn’t leave his bed, and he had to lay there, helplessly listening to his kids beds banging around in the room above him.
Finally fed up, the family left the home on the 28th day, abandoning all of their possessions, saying that they had been chased away by evil spirits.
Soon after, the family reached out to the lawyer of the guy who had committed the murders. It seemed they wanted to reach out to him, because they thought their alleged experiences could strengthen his case that something strange had caused him to do what he did.
It seems that nothing much happened, in terms of getting the guy out of prison, but that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits.
The lawyer, a dude with dollar signs in his eyes, and plans of writing a book to cash-in on his working with the murderer, thought that he could include the family’s stories in his book, elevating the whole thing from a dry criminal book to something more sinister and paranormal, like The Exorcist (a movie that had been a huge financial success six years prior).
Sound suspicious? I think so, too.
The parents of the family later divorced, but always contended that they had told the truth.
They said that what had actually happened to them had been exaggerated in the books and in the movie, but that they had truly had paranormal stuff happen to them.
They supposedly passed a polygraph test, too. I don’t believe it’s ever been revealed exactly what questions were asked during this polygraph test, so even though they passed it, who knows what they passed.
But here’s the clencher. The heart of the family’s story is basically this: the house is evil. There might have been an angry Native American buried beneath the house that caused all the troubles. Or some sort of allegedly evil red room in the basement of the house that was to blame. But, ultimately, it was the house. Something about the house was pure evil.
But after that family moved out after 28 days of alleged terror, another family moved in. Then another.
So, surely, the other residents found the house a hot-bed of demonic craziness, too?
They never saw anything.
At least one of the people who lived in the house afterward said to the press that the “house isn’t haunted, it never was haunted. It was all a money-making hoax.”
The family that lived there and allegedly had the terrible experiences tried to say that they didn’t make a lot of money from the story. But how do you define “a lot of money”?
The family made at least $300,000 off of the first book, and the first movie. $300,000? “Not a whole lot”? You kidding me? That sounds like a WHOLE LOT!
So there is definitely a profit motive that can be argued.
And what about that family’s kids? They lived there, too, during all the craziness. Surely they’ve come forward and pinky-promised that their Mom and Dad didn’t make the whole thing up. Right?
No. They’ve never given any interviews. One would think that they would, just to back their parents up. But no.
In a Smithsonian film I recently watched, through Netflix, called The Real Story: The Amityville Horror, they made the case that, in a situation where people let themselves believe that there are evil spirits around them, the floodgates of freak-out can open.
Suddenly every creak and noise, which is common of older houses, like the one they lived in, is not normal, but is taken as an example of poltergeist activity.
And if the adults, the people who are supposed to be grounded and assuring for the children, are jumping at the wind against the windows and the creaking of floorboards, what must that experience be like for the kids?
So who knows? There are plenty of reasons that the story could have been a money hoax. But isn’t it possible, just possible, that something crazy could have really happened?
Eh, probably not. But it’s kind of fun and spooky to think so.
What do you think?
Do you think there could be any truth to the Amityville Horror?
Are there any allegedly haunted houses near you? What’s the story with them?