In December 1975, George and Kathleen Lutz moved into their new home in Amityville, NY. With three young children and a limited budget, they could hardly believe their luck: the house on 112 Ocean Avenue had everything they wanted at the right price. After they toured the house, they found out why: the previous year, Ronald DeFeo Jr. had gruesomely murdered his parents and four siblings there (true story). Still, when they learned the reason the house was so cheap, they brushed it off.
But from the moment the Lutzes moved in on December 18, weird things started happening. Certain rooms were ice cold no matter what they did. The priest that they’d asked to come and bless the house quickly fled; he became ill and had extreme physical reactions any time he tried to reach out to the Lutzes, even over the phone. George and Kathleen grew moody and lashed out at the children. George found himself waking up at 3:15 a.m. every day like clockwork. One of the children suddenly had a mysterious imaginary friend.
Over the next twenty-eight days, the strange occurrences grew more frightening, and the Lutzes could no longer find ways to rationalize them: Kathleen knew that some presence in the house kept wrapping its arms around her. They knew that there was a pig talking to their daughter. There was no explanation for the swarms of flies and sickly sweet stench that gathered in one of the rooms.
The Amityville Horror is written and promoted as investigative nonfiction. Jay Anson presents the timeline of events and sets out to explain what happened at 112 Ocean Avenue before the Lutzes fled Amityville in terror. It’s spooky-ish at times (you’re probably better off watching one of the film versions if you’re in the mood for a scare), but in no way could I ever take the book seriously as nonfiction. I listened to it on audiobook, which made the book somewhat more entertaining for me, but I suspect if I’d tried reading it in print, I would have DNF-ed it.
The Amityville Horror was originally published in 1977. I listened to the 2009 audiobook version produced by Blackstone Audio.