If you’re into wildly extrapolated versions of supposedly true haunting events, then you’re probably familiar with the Amityville murders that took place in Amityville, Long Island in 1974. Though there’s no denying that Ronald DeFeo Jr. gunned down six members of his family for reasons that are still unclear to this day, the supposed incidents that followed after the Lutz family purchased the house are by now known to be wildly fabricated, and have been adapted into film properties dozens of times.
In fact, on Tubi alone there are a whopping 39 films with titles like Amityville in Space, Amityville in the Hood, and our favorite Amityville Death Toilet, which boasts the tagline, “for God’s sake, call a plumber!”
Though the original 1979 Amityville Horror film, which was a commercial success – and based on the Jay Anson novel of the same name – isn’t available on Tubi, there’s plenty more where that came from.
But before getting into all of the wild adaptations, we need to talk about the origin of the story, why it has been retold so many times, and heightened to such ridiculous proportions over the decades.
The 1974 Amityville Murders
The Amityville murders took place at 112 Ocean Ave, in Amityville, New York in 1974. The true story is as simple as it is gruesome, and involved 23-year-old Ronald Joseph DeFeo Jr. drugging his parents and four siblings before shooting them to death in their sleep.
Though he originally blamed his family’s deaths on a mob hit, it didn’t take long for him to confess to carrying out the murders himself, though there his motives remain unclear to this day.
Just a year later, the Amityville house went for sale and was purchased by the Lutz family for a reported $80,000. During their 28-day stay in the house, the family patriarch, George Lutz made a number of claims that the house was talking to them, emitting strange odors, oozing slime from the ceiling, and showcasing a number of other strange and inexplicable paranormal happenings. The family quickly moved out of the house, and supposedly left all of their possessions behind because they believed that the house was evil.
It didn’t take long for the Lutz family to collaborate with author Jay Anson about their harrowing experiences inside the Amityville house, and The Amityville Horror was published in 1977. Two years later, the popular novel was adapted into the iconic film of the same name, and was a huge commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing independent films at the time of its release.
But as time passed, it was widely believed that the Lutz Family’s story was fabricated, and the film garnered quite a bit of criticism for taking so many creative liberties based off the actual mass murder that inspired its conception.
After the Lutz family moved out of the Amityville house, no other family experienced any supernatural occurrences. Though Ronald DeFeo Jr. once claimed that voices in his head caused him to carry out the murders, he was also taking LSD at the time. The most likely scenario, and the prevailing theory surrounding the murders, is that DeFeo wanted to cash in on his family’s life insurance policy.
Criticism aside, retroactive reviews have given credit where it’s due, and stated that as a horror story The Amityville Horror had legs and should be celebrated as an excellent work of fiction.
The original film based on the Amityville haunting was a resounding success, and naturally inspired dozens of spinoff properties, all of which took an excessive amount of creative liberties that are downright ridiculous.
The main reason so many films were made under the Amityville banner is because you can’t copyright the name of a town, house, or the incidents that occurred within its walls. In other words, if you have a story to tell, and want to cash in on the Amityville name alone, there aren’t going to be a lot of roadblocks preventing you from telling a story.
The Most Bizarre Amityville Spin-Offs
One of the more ridiculous Amityville films that you can stream on Tubi is called Amityville Death Toilet. The title leaves very little to the imagination, and the film even has a character named Mayor Dump.
As the title dictates, the town of Amityville is overrun by a series of murders in which a sentient toilet bowl mutilates its subjects. But our favorite title in the entire catalog has to be Amityville Karen, which is about an angry and entitled “Karen” who becomes possessed by an evil spirit and goes on a murderous rampage.
Though The Amityville Horror should be viewed by any fan of the horror genre, it’s the straight-to-video-on-demand gems like the ones currently available for streaming that show you how filmmakers have zero shame in adapting the Amityville murders and haunting in a way that makes you ask “how did they get funding for this?” If you’re throwing a Halloween party this year, and want to laugh hysterically, then there is a treasure-trove of laughably bad cinema that comes with strong recommendation on Tubi.