20 May 2006

Review: The Amityville Horror

First of all: yes, I know it was a hoax. There are still plenty of people who believe it's true, though. I have to admit the arguments at the latter site are thought-provoking, though they ignore major points such as the hoofprint issue (there was no snow that day).

But considering it as simply a scary book, The Amityville Horror is fairly entertaining. The book is written in an odd style, half drily factual and half breathlessly credulous, with exclamation marks sprinkled throughout. Enjoying it fully does require suspending disbelief, forgetting that Anson made much of the story out of whole cloth.

Jodie definitely scared the crap out of me. I don't know why, but the idea of a pig with glowing red eyes that is seen by only the little girl, and apparently the dog, is just really scary. According to the believers' site I linked above, Jodie even followed the Lutzes to California.

The ceramic lion bit scared me, too, for much the same reason that topiaries scare me. (Yes, my fear of topiaries predates my reading of The Shining.) I can't stand topiaries. I can't help feeling that if I were to be near a topiary for a long period of time, I would start catching movement out of the corner of my eye. But when I would turn and look directly at the topiary, I would see nothing. So I would make sure of some mark near the topiary, such as a fallen branch near a foot. And I would turn back to my task. But then, I would see movement from the corner of my eye again, and this time when I looked back at the topiary, I would be almost - almost - certain it had moved. But I would be so unwilling to truly believe the topiary had moved that I would tell myself to stop being so foolish. Even when I caught movement from the corner of my eye for the third time, and looked sharply over to see that the foot was no longer in alignment with the fallen branch, I would still merely shake myself for being silly, and return to my task. I would put all thought of the topiary's movement out of my mind...

...Until it was too late.

This might come from Zork II, now that I think about it. If you stay in the garden too long, you eventually get a message about the topiaries moving. I've re-played all three Zorks as an adult, and seeing that message (I think I was waiting for a rockfall or something, and wanted to wait outside so I could turn the lantern off) sent a primal thrill of fear through my spine.

Damn topiaries.

Now where was I? Oh yes, Amityville. Between researching the hoax, which meant coming across other scary bits not mentioned in the text, and typing up that topiary scenario, I've thoroughly scared myself. So I will leave you all with this thought: If you like a good scary book, and are able to suspend disbelief, The Amityville Horror is not a bad choice.

Just don't read it late at night when you're the only one in the house.


Anonymous Enas Yorl said...

Hee! I read the Amityville Horror when I was a kid, back when it was still "based on a true story". I saw the movie at a drive-in theater a couple years later. And you're right - Jodie still creeps me out to this day.

Happy reading!

12:51 AM  

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