I have to open this review by saying that I consider The Amityville Horror (1979) to be a truly abysmal movie. It is a stultifying traipse through the conventions of the haunted house film; a lousy melodrama, one that is anchored in a swamp of po-faced seriousness due to a faux ‘based on true events’ gimmick that hamstrings any attempt for inventiveness or imagination. Nevertheless this feeble garbage became something of a sensation thanks in large part to a clever marketing campaign, and in even larger part to the gullibility of the American movie-going public. The most successful aspect of the film is Lalo Schifrin’s spine chilling music, its scariest moment a brief scene in which Rod Steiger (fly covered and gasping for air) is yelled at to “GET OUT!!” by a disembodied voice. Three years later Italian super producer Dino De Laurentis felt enough time had passed for a sequel, and to the enormous credit of all involved it totally dispenses with the restrictive ‘true story’ trick and fully commits to the supernatural. This is indeed ironic, considering that a major plot event of Amityville II is based on actual recorded events! In fact there is more true-to-life basis in the second film than the first! Amityville II is also technically a prequel, in the days before that term wasn’t synonymous with crap Star Wars movies. But it’s clear from the outset that the filmmakers couldn’t care less about evoking a specific period in time. This is not slipshod on their part; it’s illustrative of creative minds unshackling themselves from the supposed ‘reality’ of the Amityville story, and choosing to follow a trail blazed by The Exorcist (1973) and the more concurrent Poltergeist (1982). It comes to something when the major influence on a sequel isn’t the film that spawned it.