Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. USA, 1979. American International Pictures, Cinema 77, Professional Films. Screenplay by Sandor Stern, based on the book by Jay Anson. Cinematography by Fred J. Koenekamp. Produced by Elliot Geisinger, Ronald Saland. Music by Lalo Schifrin. Production Design by Kim Swados. Costume Design by Cynthia Bales, Richard Butz. Film Editing by Robert Brown. Academy Awards 1979. Golden Globe Awards 1979.
Ridiculous horror film that tries to cash in on the success of films like Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen but with very poor results. It claims to be based on a true story, though it’s actually based on ridiculous claims made by real people whom even the stars of the film doubted in later interviews. George and Kathy Lutz (James Brolin, Margot Kidder) buy a giant property on Long Island for a steal; the house having been the setting of a mass murder years earlier has driven down its property value and the couple, who have three small children, snatch up the opportunity to move in. As soon as they do, however, doors start creaking, windows start shutting and when a Catholic priest (Rod Steiger in one of his hammiest performances) shows up to bless the less-than-humble abode he is met with angry…flies? The film is just hocus pocus nonsense without much sense or anticipation, relying on silly imagery for shock without ever having any kind of tension to speak of. By the time you get to the cheerful nun who shows up with flowers and immediately gets nauseated as soon as she walks through the doors, you’ll have entered the unapologetic realm of dreary camp. Even Burnt Offerings is less ridiculous than this pile of dung, and Poltergeist is a hell of a lot smarter and more entertaining. Thanks to a box office success that thoroughly elided the disastrous critical response, the film spawned countless sequels and an equally unimpressive remake.