THE AMITYVILLE HORROR -- Area theaters.
"The Amityville Horror" is a horror. What is supposed to be the true story of a young couple driven from their dream house by demons turns out to be nothing more than a rip-off, and a tedious one at that.
From "The Exocist" we get the courageous old priest (complete with earnest young assistant) who takes on the devil. From "The Omen" there is the sweet-faced child with the knowing smile who secretly communes with dark forces. Neither of these concepts seems to have anything to do with the basic premise, which is that the house is haunted with the ghosts, who manifest themselves as swarming houseflies, join up with some other demons to drive the new family out.
Our couple turns to the Catholic Church (for some reason it doesn't occur to them to move out), which emerges as the villain of the piece. Church officials act more like Pentagon generals than clerics, and worry about their image. The pastor, Rod Steiger, proves no match for the houseflies and flounders around during most of the movie.
As the young couple, Margot Kidder and James Brolin are throughly unconvincing. They act away mightly, but it's a case of simple miscasting: Kneesocks and pigtails aren't enough to transform the sophisticated Kidder into a Long Island housewife, and Brolin, with his carefully sculpted shag hair-do and matching beard, looks more like Wolfman Jack than a harried homeowner.
It would be one thing if we were rewarded for sitting through all this with a spinetingling thrill or two, but the movie isn't even scary. Except for the flies, who take direction well, the special effects are hokey -- blood oozing out of walls, windows slamming themselves shut, things like that.
Lack of logic is one thing. When a horror movie is boring as well, what's the point?