The Amityville Horror is generally acknowledged to be a hoax these days, but you have to admire the way the Lutz family, who perpetrated it, have stuck to their guns for all these years. With Amityville: The Final Chapter they really kick it up a notch, dishing out movie-ready claptrap with one hand, while claiming that It’s All True with the other. Reportedly never happy with their share of the proceeds from the movie and the original book, they could still market their name, and market it they did, desperately hoping to pad their bank accounts with sequel after sequel. This 1985 book purports to be the true story of what happened after they fled the house at 112 Ocean Avenue, and it’s full of scenes that feel designed to tempt the special effects departments of film studios who might write them another fat check.
Many people found the original Amityville story of goo flowing down walls, mysterious voices shouting “Get out!” at priests, and demonic possession hard to swallow. That stuff pales in comparison with the devil pigs riding on the wings of 747’s, the attacks by fire bats, the packs of feral Australian dogs, and the evil forces forcing people to rent cars they don’t even want on offer in Books 2 and 3. Book 2 was plenty ridiculous with its archangels working as beach lifeguards to rescue drowning Lutz children, but in Book 3 the Amityville story goes from a simple meal of possessed homes to an all-you-can eat buffet of occult bullshit.
Taking place during the promotional tour for The Amityville Horror (and sporting a criminally long movie dream sequence that features a menacing guest appearance by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music) this third book is wonderful for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the way that author John G. Jones (whose entire career consists of Amityville tie-ins) inserts himself into the story as a character. And not only as a character but as the only friend George Lutz has. He meets George Lutz at a party and John G. Jones describes John G. Jones as “a burly, long-haired man built as powerfully as George, with an intent expression and an abundance of focused, friendly energy.” The two of them talk cars and motorcycles all night long, and later Jones is possessed by demonic forces and has to be exorcized. Whoa.
The book is as big of a mess as you would imagine, with characters appearing and disappearing, and scenes giving the impression that they’ve been shuffled and reshuffled like a pack of cards. Terri Sullivan is the Lutz’s babysitter who takes care of their children while they go on a promotional tour for several weeks. I just want to point out that they leave for this promotional tour after several demonic attacks, so it’s not the best moment for parenting ever. But don’t be too harsh, because disappearing motivations are a running theme. Terri Sullivan becomes a target for The Entity that is attacking the Lutz family when “That weekend, her hair dryer had tried to kill her.” The hair dryer does not try to kill her by electrocution. That would be too ordinary and this is a demonic hair dryer, after all. It tries to kill her by strangling her with its cord. Because that’s how Satan rolls. A few pages later, however, it’s like nothing has ever happened and Terri is dismissing signs of the supernatural as the product of her overactive imagination.
The best parts of the book are George Lutz’s battles with The Entity. George and Kathy Lutz spend a lot of time either watching each other sleep, or suddenly finding themselves in a dark world, dropped into another dimension, where there is nothing around except for Fire Bats or, as the back cover puts it, a “California picnic that turned into a Hell-feast!” But George’s battles with The Entity do not take place on this supernatural plane with the powers of darkness versus the powers of faith. For the most part, George’s battles with the Entity are about the powers of punching versus the powers of kicking.
More than once, the monstrous, disfigured form of The Entity appears and what do it and George do? They punch each other, strangle each other, and kick each other in the stomach. Basically it’s a book filled with extended supernatural bar room brawls.
This was supposed to be the final book in the Amityville series, but it was an unexpected success and so another book, Amityville: The Evil Escapes, was written by Jones, although at least it had the decency to acknowledge that it was fiction, unlike this book which swears that It’s All True. But I’m not worried. George defeats The Entity at the end of Amityville: The Final Chapter and he’ll keep defeating it. Why? Because, as he says, “I knew this martial arts training would come in handy someday.”