The Amityville Horror (According to Hans Holzer)
Readers of my blog must realize I watch a lot of DVDs. Watching the films, taking notes on the films, capturing screenshots of the films; that’s a lot of time spent on films that don’t really deserve the attention. Most don’t even reserve a cursory glance.
So listening to a DVD’s commentary track is usually the last thing on my mind. Why on Earth would I ever want to watch the Cavern again? Can I really believe there’s “secrets” hidden on the screen that I’d need the director to point out?
Sometimes, however, such attention is unavoidable. Such as with the Amityville Horror; a film that MGM thought profound enough to get an expert in the haunting field to give us a play-by-play! That’s right, while I was mocking God and spiritualism writing my review, “Dr.” Hans Holzer was busy getting a Ph.D in Parapsychology!
(His doctorate appears in scare quotes because the college Holzer claims gave him both his masters and doctorate is as elusive as the ghosts he studied. The London College of Applied Science failing to even have a web-trail, let alone a website. I can only hope I’m wrong here, and the great witch-king of Dusseldorf will grant me a doctorate in the ever-expanding field of AMR (Awesome Movie Reviews).)
Holzer being gracious enough to provide commentary on both Amityville and its sequel, Amityville II: the Possession at the same time to separate “fact” from “Hollywood fiction.”
FACT!: The Amityville house’s owners at the time of the movie’s events, the Lutz’s, when trying to get their house blessed, were told by the priest that it had an incredible story. So they ran with said story to an editor, who wrote a book about it under a pseudonym. There’s also an agent involved somewhere in here, who, naturally, dies “shortly after” selling the film.
UH…: I don’t want to rain on anyone’s paranormal parade, but Holzer overlooks the obvious, temporal explanation, a little film/cultural phenomenon called the Exorcist. William Peter Blatty’s tale becoming a cinematic force to be reckoned with in 1973, the Amityville Horror premiering in ’79. Clearly no connection there.
FACT!: The Amityville land was once an ancient Indian burial ground. (Bet you didn’t see that coming!) But wait, it gets better. On that ground was buried a chief, who was buried riding his horse, who’s grave was disturbed. A kid playing football with the chief’s skull.
UH…: I don’t want to be all “Johnny I Don’t Believe,” but since when were Indian chiefs buried riding their horses? I think Holzer has Amityville, NY confused with ancient Egypt. Or Poltergeist. And what kind of barbaric child would play football with a skull he finds in the dirt?
FACT!: It was demonic possession that caused Ronald DeFeo Jr. to slaughter his family and make Amityville famous.
UH…: DeFeo was found to have been using both heroine and LSD at the time of the murders. Not even factoring in the alleged “antisocial personality disorder,” couldn’t a cocktail of both those drugs incline someone to murder? And shouldn’t Holzer’s relationship with DeFeo factor in on Holzer’s own theories behind said murders? (As in, of course Holzer believes DeFeo is possessed, as Holzer’s writing both a book and a script about the case! And without demons why would anyone care about the opinions of a self-proclaimed parapsychologist?
FASCINATING FACT!: “If it wasn’t for the ‘facts’ of parapsychology, religion wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.” I love it, the claws are coming out! Apparently exorcisms do work (Holzer has done hundreds himself, he claims), but you don’t need a priest to do one. That’s right, anyone can do an exorcism provided they know the ritual, as religious exorcisms only work on religious ghosts. Yup, you read that right, the ghost has to believe in the power of God, and the performing priest’s superiority over the spirit, for the exorcism to work.
UH (in Spirit(s))…: 40 minutes in, and Holzer has (hopefully) stopped repeating himself endlessly, and started spitting lightning! Even the Exorcist takes a shot, since, as the scriptwriter for Amityville II: the Possession, Holzer is firmly in the Amityville camp. Other than that, I really don’t have a snarky comeuppance to Holzer’s claims. Just read them aloud while trying to keep a straight face…
FACT!: “When there is psychic energy present, and if it is angry psychic energy, that leads to something very well-known called ‘spontaneous combustion’… that is a known phenomenon, that has been tested.
UH…: I don’t believe anyone really considers spontaneous human combustion a “known phenomenon.” A rumored phenomenon, sure, but “known?”
FACT!: “I think the flies are real. They did really have them. But because of that idea that flies and the devil go together, that brings them right to the demonic thing. I only say this because I personally have had an experience with flies that really happened.”
UH…: I don’t even know where to start. Hopefully his track is just cut off here, as the scene with Brolin vs the flies ends, and he’ll return to what I assume is going to be a mesmerizing fly story later. I myself have had an “experience” or two with flies before, and have read the Satanic Bible. Coincidence?
FACT!: “Possession, I wrote a book on possession though… About exorcisms I did, and possession is relatively common. But it is always, possession by one human being of another one, except that one of them is dead; most of the time, not always. Possession is relatively common. It happens the possesses, the person is either on drugs, or on alcohol, or extremely weak, weak person. People have been pass-out in bars, and suddenly become somebody else… It’s a very difficult thing to convince a jury or a judge.”
Holzer then goes off to explain how the arbiters of science refuse to recognize spirits as an acceptable source of crime.
UH…: Rather amusing that right before Holzer takes science to task for not believing in ghosts, Hans spoke at length about how “a guy at [Amityville’s] historical society” told him that there absolutely was an Indian chief buried in town. In a tomb even. He had, of course, become uncovered, the uncovering having caused this chain of events, and then subsequently reburied. Back in his tomb. But Holzer declined to actually see the tomb, let alone dig it up, as that would require permits, and might cast him as an actual investigative reporter. Why look for answers when you can just take someone at their word?
FACT!: I won’t even try to transcribe Holzer’s description of the “etheric body.” The salient points however, are that we’re born with two bodies: one inner, one outer. The outer is (obviously) our physical body. It dies at death. The other, etheric, body, remains, but it moves at a speed slower than other matter, so it’s not “dense matter” like the outer body. So it’s still with us in the world, but the atoms are too spread out to interact with us.
It’s called, apparently, “the other side of life.” And the only difference is that you can’t get sick there (no body), or feel the effects of time. But you can leave! Yes, leaving is an option. You get in line with the clerk(!!!), who then scouts out a suitable couple for you to be birthed back to.
UH…: I love when spiritualists try to ground their theories in proven scientific terms (atoms, dense matter, etc,), to lend credence to what they’re saying. Especially after they’ve just ended a rant about how established science is a big bugaboo keeping everyone in the dark. And then they fall off the deep-end, ending their tale of “the other side of life” with a scene straight out of Beetlejuice.
(You end up getting a job in the spirit world too; often helping people on the “living” side. Okay, now he seriously is stealing from Tim Burton.)
FACT!: the commentary ends on an extremely sad note. First Holzer talks about how he’s written many things, except “large checks.” Then points out how he refuses to retire, and wants to script more movies and television series. Followed by a couple denunciations of Hollywood, with Holzer wondering how a story could claim to be true when it wasn’t filmed in the real house. Lastly, Holzer notes that the town of Amityville is trying to cover the haunting up; mainly by denying that there’s an Indian chief buried in the town.
UH…: Holzer’s using 20 minutes to imply the sad state of his finances makes watching this through the end really tough. Akin to being accosted by a bum, in your living room! “Sorry, Mr. Holzer, but I don’t have any change, cigarettes, or television series, that you can have.” Which would end things on a sad note if…
He didn’t bring the levity back a moment later by again complaining about the Hollywood-ization of an “already interesting story.” So interesting, in fact, that he’d write the “true” story and sell it back to the studios for Amityville II: the Possession. So he should really be thanking Hollywood for bankrolling what was probably his biggest paycheck.
Taking on the town of Amityville seems silly, as he’s the only one who’s ever claimed there was an Indian there. Except when he claimed earlier to have talked to a “historical society guy.” Maybe Holzer should’ve tracked the society back down, or had they disappeared too?
—More Amityville Madness—