Monday, October 31, 2011
According to Anson, in late 1975, the Lutz family of five moved into a Dutch colonial house on 112 Ocean Drive on Long Island, New York. Though worth considerably more, George Lutz paid only $80,000 for the home (plus an addition $400 for the furnishings it already contained), owing to the fact that it had an unsavory reputation. Thirteen months prior to the purchase, 112 Ocean Drive was the site of the murder of six people -- two adults and four children -- by Ronald DeFeo, Jr., a fact the Lutzes knew but decided didn't matter, since they liked the spacious home so much. Even so, the Lutzes asked a Catholic priest to come and bless the home, just in case.
The priest, Father Ray Mancuso, entered the house to bless it and found doing so uncomfortable. He eventually heard a voice telling him, "Get out!" At first, he kept his experiences to himself but eventually decided to tell George Lutz. Father Mancuso called the Lutzes and warned them against going into the room from which the voice he'd heard had come. As it turned out, the room had been the bedroom of two of the children murdered by Ronald DeFeo. Not long thereafter, Father Mancuso fell seriously ill, afflicted with a high fever and strange blisters on his body.
Over the course of the next 28 days, 112 Ocean Drive was host to numerous bizarre phenomena that suggested the house was haunted or demon-possessed. For example, swarms of flies appeared on the windows of some rooms of the house, despite the cold winter weather, while blood oozed from the walls in some places. The family members experienced nightmares, feelings of being touched by unseen forces, and, in the case of the youngest child, 5 year-old Melissa, repeated encounters with a pig-like creature with red glowing eyes whom the little girl called Jody. There were also spinning crucifixes, demonic visions, hidden rooms, inexplicable noises, and levitations. In short, nearly every cliché associated with haunted houses in modern times supposedly happened at 112 Ocean Drive, except of course most of these weren't clichés before the publication of The Amityville Horror. This is the book that started it all, right down to the house's having been built atop an Indian burial ground.
I was too young to read The Amityville Horror (whose title, incidentally, was chosen by Anson based on Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror") when it was first released, but, like most kids back then, I knew the story. In the late '70s, it was everywhere, part of the cultural landscape of that bygone decade and something that simultaneously attracted and repelled me. Even now, reading the book reminded me of all the feelings I had as a child. Despite the fact what Anson and the Lutzes perpetrated is one of the great hoaxes of the 20th century, the book is still powerfully compelling. There's a rawness and -- dare I say it? -- believability to its presentation that I find hard to resist, even though I know better. It's a fun and inspirational read and I don't deny that there are aspects to my The Cursed Chateau that I cribbed from The Amityville Horror. I'm sure I'm not that only gamer ever to do so.
Posted by James Maliszewski at 12:01 AM