Amityville II: The Possession (1982)

Viewed February 1st

This prequel to The Amityville Horror details the demonic possession of the eldest son of Amityville's newest family.  

It's as if a distinctly Italian demon possessed a blockbuster American horror filmDirector Damiano Damiani imports the absurd twisted humor and intense decent into evil represented by Italian shlock horror films like Beyond the Door and Beyond the Door II into a more commercial American film context. The result is a cult film at once atrociously bad and improbably memorable. Of all the films in The Amityville series, this is the one that might last in a hundred years despite the fact that almost no one would have thought so upon its disastrous release. Burt Young is great as the fucked-up father of the fucked-up family which almost immediately start getting messed with by Satan. Capped off by a straight-up brother-sister incest sex scene, the film is really onto something in its move from whatever semblance of reality the original Amityville film might have had into a sort of artsy cinematic pastiche of sicko horror film tropes. For its first two acts, it works by anchoring this almost abstract craziness (all set to a great Lalo Schifrin score) with an oddly touching performance by Jake Magner as Sonny, the son who gets possessed. It sounds ridiculous to say, but he projects some sort of genuine tragedy onto some of his scenes. I mean, it is ridiculous to say. The film is bad and its gambit is to simply go with it far enough that it comes out on the other end. And it almost works, but after the climactic slaughter of the family by Sonny, there's still a long third act which involves perhaps the worst stretch of individual scenes in the history of the movies, including a completely shitty courtroom scene, that all lack the wild beauty of what preceded it.