What is it like to live with the stigma of being involved in arguably the most controversial real-life haunted house story ever told? In the new documentary My Amityville Horror, Daniel Lutz tells his story for the very first time.
There has been much speculation about the events that took place in the 28 days between December 1975 and January 1976 while the Lutz family occupied the house at 112 Ocean Ave in Amityville, NY. Over the years dozens of books and movies have weaved supernatural tales of a demonic pig creature with glowing red eyes, swarms of flies, levitation and much more, all seemingly correlating to the brutal DeFeo murders in the house 13 months earlier.
Newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz moved into the now infamous Amityville house to a start a new life. Daniel, who was just nine years old at the time, was the oldest of Kathy’s three children from a previous marriage. Now, close to 40 years after his family fled the house in terror, the stonemason living in Queens is the subject of the documentary My Amityville Horror as the “lost witness to a world famous haunting.”
Throughout the interview with director Eric Walter, Daniel claims he always just wanted a chance to tell his story, while alternately seeming to feign anger toward Walter for making him dredge up old traumas. As he begins to tell his story, he seems to be doing nothing more than recounting scenes from the movie alongside deep-seated emotional issues with his domineering step-father. His recollection of events tend to seem contrived, disassociated. Besides a rather dubious claim of having witnessed George practicing telekinesis in the garage one day, he brings no new details or insight to the table.
Walter seems to have been skeptical of at least some of Daniel’s claims, but seeking the truth wasn’t exactly the purpose of the film. Walter has had a fascination with the Amityville Horror story for a long time. At 18 he launched the website AmityvilleFiles.com, now the largest archive of Amityville-related research on the web. It is through that website that Daniel Lutz reached out to him. Walter says the film is a character study, examining how the story has effected those who live in its shadow.
The film features many prominent voices in Amityville history, but the most interesting part of the film is when Danny and the crew visit the home of Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens have spent a lifetime researching and investigating supposedly paranormal cases. They have authored many books on their investigations, and started an occult museum in their house to display the haunted objects they have accumulated over the years. They were among the very first to investigate the Lutz’s claims, corroborating the evil presence in the house with their expertise in demonology and clairvoyance.
Ed passed away in 2006, but Lorraine continues their life work. Because Ed communicated to her from the afterlife that she should.
When the documentary crew comes to her house, Lorraine discusses her conversation with the Lutz kids during a stroll on the beach sometime shortly after the incident. Then the tone turns more serious. Lorraine wants to show two very powerful religious relics, but is nervous to unveil them if there are any non-believers present. She asks the crew if everyone believes in God. Daniel threatens that he will “call them out on it later” if anyone isn’t being truthful.
Though there are a couple of “agnostics” in the room, Lorraine decides it will be okay. She reveals a small crucifix she claims to be made out of or infused with wood from the actual cross Christ was crucified on. The other object is a religious icon containing a hair of the Catholic saint Padre Pio, which supposedly protected her during the March 6th, 1976 investigation of the Amityville house.
This is Daniel’s first time speaking publicly about his experiences in the Amityville house. The other Lutz children, Christopher and Melissa, declined to participate in the film. Melissa, who was very young at the time, has always preferred her privacy. In 2003, however, Christopher decided to speak up. He claimed that most of the details in the original book and movie were made up, offering a different perspective where George’s tampering with the occult was to blame for the haunting.
Listen to his interview with Spooky Southcoast here.
Whether Amityville was a horror or a hoax, Eric Walter’s film has successfully added a new facet to events that have been scrutinized for decades. It reveals a previously unexplored page of the story with testimony that seems to unintentionally speak more truth than any other before it.
My Amityville Horror will be an important piece of the canon for many years to come.