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John’s Horror Corner: Amityville II: The Possession (1982), an entertaining and rather off-the-wall sequel shifting from a Poltergeist-ish haunted house to a possession and exorcism movie.

June 25, 2022

MY CALL: Taking some off-the-wall liberties in its storytelling, this is exactly the kind of high energy, high lunacy sequel that we sort of secretly want from our beloved horror classics. After watching this, you’ll have so much to take about. I promise. MORE MOVIES LIKE Amityville II: If you enjoyed this even a little bit and have not yet seen the original The Exorcist (1973) or its sequel The Heretic (1977), then that’s where you ought to venture next.

Not so long after the horrible events of The Amityville Horror (1979), Anthony (Burt Young; Rocky I-V, Rocky Balboa) and Delores (Rutanya Alda; The Stuff, The Dark Half, Mommy Dearest, Christmas Evil) move their four children into the cursed Long Island house on the water. The family’s dysfunction as advertised heavily before they even enter the house as teenagers Sonny (Jack Magner) and Patricia (Diane Franklin; TerrorVision) discuss their parents toxic bedroom life and Sonny is physically threatened by his father with dialogue identifying its commonplace nature. So the sins of the household are obvious. Anthony raises his hand to his wife and children with familiarity at the first signs of adversity.

About as soon as they enter the house, occasional visions of bloody plumbing, mini-assaults of pestilence and wind, cracked mirrors, and other minor poltergeisty goings-on abound as overt signs of a supernatural presence. This haunting rapidly advances to telekinetic displays, loud knocks and sacrilegious graffiti before they have even spend their first night in the house. That said, as wildly silly as this movie is right out of the gates, its pacing is truly energized.

Just as the original, we cover the main beats. Some weird things alarm the family, Father Adamsky (James Olson; The Andromeda Strain) is invited to bless the house, and the house… resists. Perhaps as retribution, the house possesses Sonny and he wanders to lecherous, incestuous places (yes, for real). Just as overt is the voice in Sonny’s head beckoning him to kill; much less subtle or abstract than the goading of part 1. A moderately interesting special effect is Sonny’s pulsating skin. When it flairs up it’s as if he’s trying to fight evil temptations or even battling becoming something. He somewhat behaves like someone turning into a werewolf, not wanting to be seen or near his loved ones.

Unexpectedly happening about the middle of the movie, the family slaughter scenes fell quite flat. Weak gunshot wounds, no chase or thrill; just summary execution. The death scenes are nothing special, and that sucks. But still, this movie’s pacing keeps things very entertaining overall.

This movie’s first half is better than the second half, for the second half of this movie is basically just trying to be The Exorcist (1973) or part 2 (The Heretic, 1977). We spend too much time with police and lawyers—any atmosphere once cultivated is readily lost. It’s kind of annoying. We begin with an enjoyable haunted house full of poltergeisty shenanigans, and transition into an Exorcist wannabe that tries too hard to be something it probably never should have been. By the end, Sonny has gone snot-faced Evil Dead-ite-Lite for a soft, largely forgettable exorcism. But you know what? After all the Reagan callback-style dialogue with the priest, the eventual finale effects are pretty cool. Sonny’s face swells, crusts, splits and pulsates into a Brundlefly-like gory mess to reveal the snaggle-toothed demon under the skin.

Not that this movie was serious enough for me to care, but I did find it somewhat confounding that a Catholic priest was attempting an “exorcism” on what should just be angry Native American spirits (who were probably good normal people) roused from their burial ground defiled by the building of the Amityville house upon their sacred resting place. Father Adamsky, as if speaking to a Biblical demon, even shouts “tell me your name!” So now we’re just treating these Native American spirits as pure Biblical evil? Or did an actual evil demon replace the Native spirits at some point? Maybe director Damiano Damiani (The Devil is a Woman, The Witch, Blood Feud) was just collecting his paycheck and couldn’t be troubled. But would an exorcism work against a collective bunch of Native American spirits lashing out against those who continue to torture their afterlife? Just a thought…

So maybe between the silly fun of the first half, the satisfying finale effects, and some theological and ethical preponderances to mull over after the fact, this sequel was well worth it overall. Despite a very slow 20-ish minutes before the closing scenes, I quite enjoyed myself.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2022 4:57 pm

    It has been so long since I’ve seen this one the only thing I remember is growing up with a girl that looked exactly like the youngest girl in this movie. It was almost scary they looked so much alike. I’ve got too many on the list to try to work this one in for retro night, but thanks for a fun trip down memory lane.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      June 27, 2022 6:13 pm

      This is a good one to work in! I just saw Amityville 3-D which I saw soooo long ago (maybe the early 90s) that I forgot all about it. It deserved to be forgotten! However part II, which I had also forgotten from 30 years ago, was a delight to rewatch almost anew as a first watch.

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