By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
FATE Consulting Editor
The horrible, demonic haunting that drove a family out of a house in Amityville, New York in 1976 ranks as one of the most famous cases in paranormal history. “The Amityville Horror,” as it is known – now a trade-marked term – has been the subject of books, sensational films – and unending lawsuits. Now, says Christopher Quarantino, one of the children involved in the case, there is much more to the story – occult practices conducted in the family — and he has decided to talk about it.
“This isn’t just me coming up with a new twist on the story,” Quaratino told FATE. “This is me telling what I really know.”
Aerieal view of former Lutz home in Amityville. From police files, courtesy of Tim Yancey.
Quaratino, forty-three, was seven years old when his family moved into the cursed house on Long Island, New York, in December 1975 with his recently wed parents, mother Kathy Lutz and stepfather George Lutz, and two siblings, Daniel, nine, and Melissa, five. All three children were Kathy’s by a previous marriage. The Lutzes purchased the empty house because it was a bargain, and they knew the reason why: In 1974, horrible murders had occurred there. A twenty-three-year-old man named Ronnie DeFeo went through the house one night with a .35-caliber rifle and shot to death his parents and four siblings while they slept in their beds. De Feo was convicted of six counts of murder and sent to prison.
Almost immediately after moving in, the Lutz family experienced oppressive and unpleasant phenomena that rapidly escalated over time. They called in a Catholic priest to bless the home, and unknown voices told him emphatically to get out. Family members were plagued by bizarre swarms of flies, apparitions, noises, weird phenomena, nightmares and depression.
In the late afternoon of January 14, 1976, only twenty-eight days after they moved in, the family was so terrified that they left in a hurry leaving all their belongings behind, with the exception of a few changes of clothing.
The case was investigated by Hans Holzer, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, members of the American Society for Psychical Research in New York City, and others. The Warrens pronounced the activity demonic in nature.
In the aftermath, book and film rights were sold, and the story became a best-selling sensation. Lawsuits were filed over claims and rights, and went on for years. Skeptics and debunkers criticized the case, but George and Kathy Lutz, who are both deceased now, stuck to their story to the end of their lives. Amityville became a paranormal juggernaut, generating more books and films. As the original story became exhausted, fictional elements increased.
One question often asked is, were the family members targeted as innocent victims by dark forces related to the house, the murders and even the land, or was there something more behind it all? In 2005, upon the release of a remake of the original The Amityville Horror film, Quaratino alluded to an undisclosed paranormal problem brought on by occult rituals and practices, which may have attracted dark forces that followed the family from the Amityville home. “George Lutz brought the troubles on himself (and our family) by dabbling in the occult, it wasn’t just the house that was the problem,” he said. “That’s why ‘it’ followed us.”
Some of the principals involved beyond the family, including some of the investigators, were aware of the occult practices, but the information was never widely known.
Quaratino said he felt compelled to speak out in the wake of announcements of three new Amityville sequel films by three separate movie companies, each adding twists to the story. However, he will not discuss details while the new films are in production.
Hannibal Classics is making Amityville Legacy in 3D. The Weinstein Company is developing The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes for theatrical release in January 2012. The Asylum will release Amityville Haunting on DVD in December 2011. The Asylum is advertising that footage is “real.” The theme of the film is, the family did not survive, but “recordings” did.
Qauratino said he is weary of Hollywood taking fictional liberties with the story, lives of the family, and his own experiences. He plans his own feature length film to tell the real story as he sees it, especially to a generation probably not familiar with the original case and to the masses that have before them been exposed to the story with all the inaccuracies.
He is raising funding for his film, starting this Halloween Eve, October 30, with an online pay-per-view “fireside chat” event in which he will tell one real-life creepy story, about the “demons of his past” and his frightening experiences in his present home in Phoenix, Arizona, which seems to be haunted because of a suicide on the property. The live webcast will air 9pm Eastern, 6pm Pacific, and will thereafter be available on demand.
Quaratino said he has challenged Hollywood that he can tell a creepier story, and is asking the public to weigh in with votes. For more information, visit www.amityvillehorrorchallenge.com or www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Amityville-Horror-Challenge/164647713600246.
FATE has not contacted others originally involved in the case, pending further disclosures from Quarantino.