Though billed as a prequel to The Amityville Horror, The Possession is actually only loosely based on the real life DeFeo crimes that preceded that film (and events during it contradict those from the opening of the original), instead focusing on the fictional Montelli family who have very much the same dynamic and fate as the DeFeo's did (even still, a blurb during the end credits assures us that any relation to real people is purely coincidental ... mhmm). Taking elements from the first Amityville and mixing them in with ingredients from The Exorcist and even The Evil Dead at times, Amityville 2 takes the Ronnie DeFeo possessed by demons theory and runs with it, exploring that 'what if?' scenario in grand and theatrical fashion. While certaintly not as good of a movie or as well told of a story as the first Amityville was, Amityville 2 is full of charms of its own, making it a far different but equally watchable experience.
Watching the first and second films in this franchise back to back is quite interesting and this is the first time i've ever actually done that. Made in the late 70's, the first trip into the house with the creepy windows is very much a 70's horror film, while this prequel, made in 1982, is very much an 80's horror film. Now that may seem like common sense but it's really fascinating to see that progression from the 70's style of horror to the 80's style and this franchise highlights that change perhaps better than any other (though Texas Chainsaw Massacre comes to mind as well). While the 70's were generally more about slow burn and reserved storytelling, 80's horror was more fast paced and focused more on exciting and fun visuals where you saw more of everything and makeup FX artists were really put through the ringer. Amityville's 1 and 2 fit these two differing horror filmmaking styles, respectively, to an absolute tee. Very interesting how two films, from the same franchise and made just a few years apart, can highlight that decade to decade shift so well.
Amityville 2 is total 80's horror, chock full of some pretty kickass practical makeup effects, and I for one find it to be more of a fun and entertaining watch than its predecessor. Now don't get me wrong, the first Amityville is a far better film and I do overall like it more, but when it comes purely to fun and entertainment, 80's horror almost always beats out 70's horror for me and this one is no exception. The Possession is another win for writer Tommy Lee Wallace, who went on to (partially) pen and direct Stephen King's IT as well as write/direct the eternally underrated and awesome Halloween 3 : Season of the Witch. Bolstered by a solid and immensely hateable performance by Rocky's Burt Young and featuring everything from a bizarre incest subplot to a plethora of over the top and gloriously 80's demonic possession sequences, Amityville 2 is defintely worth a watch, though the total shift in vibe from the first may be a turn off for some and may in fact explain a lot of the negativity that's been hurled towards it over the years.
Must mention something rather interesting that Jen noticed and pointed out to me around the 34 minute mark that I had never noticed before. While Sonny Montelli is hearing things and roaming around the house with a shotgun in tow, he stops in a doorway and the camera does a 360 degree flip on him. During this scene, what appears to be a small child's feet appear in the frame and then quickly back up out of it, which adds a highly creepy little element to the moment. Now I have no idea if this was intentionally put in there to be a subliminal scare or if this was just one of the cast members who accidently got too close to the shot, but it's pretty interesting and creepy nonetheless. Perhaps it's the real life spirit of one of the murdered DeFeo children? We may never know!