Talk, Night 1
(Feb 27, 2005)
Doug, Scott and Will
DOUG: Tonight we have a very special guest who is going
to be with us for the next hour. We have Mr George Lutz of Amityville
Horror fame. You know, that's that movie that some people have seen.
Some of our listeners have seen, like, this movie, called The Amityville
SCOTT: On that note – George, how ya doin'?
GEORGE LUTZ: I'm doing fine. Actually
I should be working on my website – it went down yesterday. Probably
you guys were doing this show [unintelligible]...
SCOTT: You know what, I noticed that today. I noticed
that today, I checked your site...
We don't know what happened. We don't know why this is happening.
SCOTT: I noticed, he had the big ugly "forbidden"
thing on there.
DOUG: Oh no.
SCOTT: I'm like, "I'm forbidden to go to this site.
Did I do something to make this man angry?"
[laughs] I'm forbidden to go there.
DOUG: It sounds like some phone calls are in your future,
SCOTT: Well George, we need to thank you regardless,
because we know you're a little under the weather right now. We want to
thank you for coming on the show regardless. [unintelligible] very nice
of you to do that for us.
And I get to miss part of the Academy Awards pregame show, which I don't
really care about.
SCOTT: I don't think too many people who listen to this
show really care about that, either. I think we're all in a very good
boat – I think we're all in a very good shape not to worry about
DOUG: Well you see, we're ghost hunters. We're ghost
hunters. What we do is we tend to dress up in, well this time of year,
warm clothes. And it usually involves like a couple of layers of pants
and things – and then it involves several shirts and plaid somewhere.
So we're not really fashion-conscious when we go out and about ghost hunting.
Well we have a house-full every year just for the Academy Awards –
for the party.
SCOTT: Oh really?
Yeah, so I had to go on down to the other end of the house, but it worked
out fine for me because I don't miss this part at all. I like the awards,
but not the fashion show.
DOUG: Right. Although there are people who do, but our
particular interests aren't in the fashion – at the moment, anyway.
SCOTT: I don't know one fashion-conscious ghost-hunter,
to be honest with you. I've never met one that was, like, suave and debonair,
and looked really nice when they came out. They just throw on whatever,
like we do...
Lorraine Warren is probably the best-dressed person I've ever known to
be involved in this.
DOUG: There we go.
She is always a really classy woman.
DOUG: Well that is entirely true.
SCOTT: We've had her on the show before, and she was
great. We absolutely loved talking to Lorraine – or Doug did.
DOUG: I talked to Lorraine. Yes. And that was awesome.
Now she is definitely a class act. 100% class act. So anyway...
You would never catch her in a pair of jeans out at somebody's house.
Just not gonna happen.
DOUG: I agree with you. But the interesting thing is,
Lorraine happens to be a demonologist, right?
Ah, Ed. She's a light transmedium and clairvoyant.
DOUG: Oh, okay – and Ed's a demonologist. Did you
meet them at first, like, because of the Amityville house?
DOUG: And so they came out to investigate that.
Right. I don't know how much you know of what went on right after we moved
out of the house.
SCOTT: We really don't know too much. If you wanna enlighten
us on that, it'd be great.
Oh, okay. Well I can help you out a little bit there. After we moved out,
the intent was to get the house fixed, and to find out what was wrong,
and to find experts or whatever was needed to fix this so it would be
livable. The first person that I spoke with, that comes to mind today,
is a fellow by the name of Stephen Kaplan. And you've probably heard of
him. One of the problems with him was that none of his credentials could
be verified. None of the statements he made about teaching at the State
University at Stony Brook in New York. He was not a published ghost-hunter
or parapsychologist. His degree was from a university without walls, which
meant it was mail-order. And he turned out to be a vampirologist, and
so that, when speaking with the people from Duke University about him
– they had never heard of him, and there was just no way to verify
who he was.
The second part with what happened with him was that he broke his agreement
with me in that he contacted Newsday and Channel 5 – whatever it
was – and got involved with the media. We just wanted to get this
investigated and fixed and move back in our house – we weren't looking
for publicity of any kind. So a woman by the name of Laura DiDio, from
Channel 5 News in New York, called me and said, "Look, you really
need to do this with responsible, qualified people," and she recommended
the Warrens. So that's how they came into the mix – it was really
because of Laura.
Her first choice had been Hans Holzer, but he was evidently unavailable
at the time, and when you think about it now, he probably wishes he was
DOUG: And that kind of stuff does happen. I mean there
are scheduling conflicts even with us.
Oh sure. Absolutely. But then we're talking about almost 30 years ago
now, so... This isn't stuff I think of every day, so when I remember it,
I just have to wait for the words to come out [unintelligible] what happens.
DOUG: Well what's interesting is the, for example, the
Warrens, especially at that time, were extremely busy people. And so was
Hans Holzer. I mean these are very very busy folks, and that was around
that time when their, ah, you know, they were doing, what, the lecture
series and things like that. It very well could have worked out that they
would have been unavailable as well, and you would have been, "Who
now?" But it turned out...
Oh absolutely. You're absolutely right. I think its the grace of God why
things happen, and when they do and how they do.
DOUG: So I think you were – it was – whether
it was, you know, by chance – although I'm believing less and less
in chance – or by some kind of interesting synchronicity –
they happened to be available and you needed the help.
And they came down. Lorraine and Ed and Laura came down and they went
in the house. Tried to get me to go in with them. I just gave them the
key. And then Ed said – because of what happened there that night
– then Ed said he would bring back a group. And that he didn't mind
coordinating with people from Duke University.
So then Alex Tanous and Dr Karlis Osis also were coordinated to go in
the same day, and channel 5 News went in – and that was all on March
– I think it was March 6, 1976.
DOUG: Oh, well happy anniversary, then. Or un-happy anniversary
in this case. Yeah, cause that's coming up next week.
It is. So that's how the investigation, itself, was done after we moved
out of the house. The consensus of opinion from that night from all the
people who were there was that, as far as they were concerned, they were
done with it. They couldn't fix it.
What was suggested was that we get either an Anglican exorcist or a Roman
Catholic exorcist to come and say mass in the house. And we figured if
all these people couldn't deal with it, then the one thing we weren't
going to do was to ask that kind of thing to save the house. How do you
ask someone to put their own life in jeopardy for that? We had seen too
much at that point.
So that's when the idea started to – how should I word this –
come to mind; take grasp, take hold – we started to believe in the
possibility that we weren't going home. That we were not going to get
to move back there.
DOUG: And I know that's got to be like one of the hardest
things, because some of the books that I've been reading lately actually...
Deb in California sent us like stacks of books, and some of them had some
interesting, you know, books, and they're written by folks who have now
mild, compared to the Amityville case, hauntings in their homes. You know,
they save and save and then they buy this home, and then they're pretty
much stuck with it.
It's like, "This is my home – I love it – I scrimped
and saved to get it," and then they have to somehow coexist with
other entities in it. So those are mild. But of course in your case, George,
you weren't very fond of having to live with that house, were you?
This is a very difficult position to be put in. First of all, you know
what you've experienced, but you can't explain it. You can't talk to your
friends about it openly because you're going to lose those friends. You
can't talk about it at work – even if I was the boss and owned the
company – because the people you work with are gonna start looking
at you like 'there's something really wrong here.' The people you can
talk to about it – they have their own lives, their own problems
– and they're educating you constantly. The situation you find yourself
in is that you own this house that you really loved – your boats
and your cars and your motorcycles and your clothing and your jewelry
and your baby pictures and high school yearbooks and everything that you
can think of that you put together is there.
In our case we put $20,000 cash down plus another $4,000 in closing costs
– moved in and were committed. I mean we were there to stay.
SCOTT: Well you bought that house. That's your home.
SCOTT: Every problem in that house belongs to you, then,
unfortunately. I mean whether its hard or not, that goes along with any
house you buy.
And so what do you do? I mean, you don't... We didn't know what to do
in terms of how to get rid of it. We were told we couldn't go back and
get the stuff that was in it.
And I do believe that that was the correct thing to do – the auction.
We auctioned everything off. We had an auctioneer go in and take care
So we left everything there.
SCOTT: All of your belongings?
We made payments on the house until – I think it was June or July
of the following year. Because we... I sold my business to the first guy
that came along that wanted it, and we moved to California. But there
we were out in California living in a brand new rental house. We have
this house full of everything that we own in New York. And we really didn't,
you know, we didn't have any friends out there – so its not like
we could, you know, go talk about this problem with anyone and make sense
of it. It was quite a time. It was very difficult for us.
DOUG: Well, just briefly, I wonder what you think, because
I know this is probably gonna take a whole nother track, but what do you
think about the times that have changed since then? Because where I'm
coming from is that, for example, now there are shows like "Ghostly
Talk" and "W-Paranormal" and of course Art Bell, "Coast
to Coast AM." And there's the show "Ghost Hunters" on the
Sci-Fi Channel, and there's "Proof Positive," and there seems
– oh, and then they do like a ton of things on the Travel Channel
in October – you know, Travel and Discovery with all those haunted
Yeah, its like they save them up all year and then run 'em–
DOUG: All in October, yeah. Do you think things have
changed in the past, like, what – what would that be like –
twenty, almost thirty, just under thirty years? Have they changed?
Attitudes in the United States certainly have. I mean, we don't have a
history of talking about this stuff.
DOUG: Right, not previous to that. Because the Warrens
and Hans Holzer and uh, umm, oh who was Nancy Reagan's astrologer? I can't
remember. Anyway, all those folks, they did the cutting edge. They did
the "breaking of the ground" kind of thing to bring it out and
open it up, and say, ya know, "Hey this is something that we talk
about – we can talk about this stuff." So all that stuff was
happening when just like during the time when you needed it. You needed
like today's society what twenty-some years ago, perhaps.
Today's society would have had webcams in there. There would have been
a whole different technology to document this.
DOUG: And it would have been documented, and anybody
could have seen it at any time for themselves, and said, "Oh look
at what's, you know, floating by," or, you know, different things
like that. And so, yeah, technology has picked up, and also I think society.
SCOTT: Will be accepting of it. That's the big thing
for me right there. We have all this technology now – that's a given
– and we use it all the time. The limited amount that we can get
our hands on or whatnot – we use whatever we can. But the big thing
right here is you need to have the attitude, the desire, to not have this
as a taboo thing anymore. And let's discuss this thing, and let's see
what – this person's describing these things to us, let's see if
we can see them ourselves, also.
DOUG: And then try to work – and then trying to
work out the problem.
SCOTT: Well, yeah...
SCOTT: You're talking about past cases. You've been reading
books, Doug, about houses people buy, and they come with these ghosts
or whatever they may be in there running around. And just about everybody
I've ever talked to personally, or read about, they say, "Hey look,
you know, I bought this house and there's these other people or beings
or entities there – I learned to live with them."
SCOTT: "I learned to live with them, and I like
them – I'm happy that they're here."
DOUG: So far none of – at least in modern times
– its not been as extreme as what Mr Lutz went through.
SCOTT: Yeah. And I mean this has gotten to the point,
obviously, Mr Lutz, where you've just described to us – you've left
everything that you've worked for, just about. Did you–
I have heard that there are other cases that are not published that are
not, uh, that haven't been turned into books.
And I understand the families' reasons for not going public.
DOUG: Well, of all people, yeah. [laughs] Well you, for...
And the thing here is – this house was challenged with the house
blessing. This house was challenged again with the investigation of some
of the things that were said then. Whatever was there had no intention
of leaving. No intention of giving that up – that property. I only
talk about it when I owned it, not now. But there are so many indicators
that we wouldn't have looked at the same way 30 years ago that we might
today, also. The DeFeo murders. Before the murders the family put the
statues up. They went out and bought these special statues in Canada and
brought them down and put them out in the front and the rear of the house.
They had a priest come in and say mass a number of times.
One of the things when we did the Art Bell show was that I had never been
able to find the archive of what Malachi Martin, Father Malachi Martin,
had said about the house. I had heard he said something, but I didn't
know what his exact words were. And he said on the Art Bell show words
to the effect that that was the most evil house in this country and that
the Catholic Church knew all about it for a long time.
DOUG: That's right from Father Malachi Martin, then.
SCOTT: Well, what I'd like to get into, though–
And that's an archive that still exists today, now. I mean that's not,
SCOTT: It still is. Actually, they had a giveaway, I
think. They were – that was one of their promotions they were doing
on the show, is that you'd actually get that archive.
DOUG: Well what that was – that may not have been
the specific one.
SCOTT: The specific one, yeah.
DOUG: The one that they did for the promotion, that was
Art Bell's final interview with Malachi Martin before he had passed away.
You know, because Father Malachi Martin is deceased now. But they, you
know, that was the final...
So Art Bell just asked him straight out one night, "What do you know
about that house? Do you know anything about it?" And he said, "Oh
yeah, they knew all about it."
SCOTT: Well, when you were living in the house, George
– and, I mean, I don't wanna go too far – I don't want, as
far as you wanna take it, 'cause I know this may be kinda touchy for you.
I'm sure you've discussed some of the things that happened while you were
in the house. Just to give the listening audience an idea, you know, what
went on, I mean what was going through your mind when you were in... You
bought this house, and, its a beautiful house, by the way. Its an absolutely
stunning home. I've seen pictures of it. I mean I can imagine how happy
you were to get this home. You worked many years. You've been open enough
to say how much money you spent to buy, to get possession of this home,
more or less...
Well its all public records stuff, too, you know. The mortgage was $60,000.
The house was probably worth $110,000, something like that. It was 4,000
square feet with a basement on the water with a boathouse and attached
garage and a heated pool in the backyard.
SCOTT: Okay. Well when you – finally when you were
in this house, I was just wondering if you want to elaborate on a few
things that may have happened to you personally when you were living there,
before it was time to, like, leave [laughs] more or less. I mean is there
a few things that stick out to you? We were talking about this earlier,
like, "I can't tell people this – they're not going to believe
DOUG: I think the audience of Ghostly Talk will.
SCOTT: The audience – yeah, these people –
we're people – especially the people sitting here talking to you
DOUG: We're out looking for that kind of thing to see
if we can document it...
SCOTT: And find correlations, too.
DOUG: And understand it, and work with it.
SCOTT: Yeah, that's it exactly. Were there some things
that really stuck out to you that happened to you when you were there?
I'd really rather ask, answer specific questions than try to do a recount
of the 28 days.
SCOTT: Well, yeah.
DOUG: Yeah. It is a bit broad. It causes it–
I hope you don't mind.
DOUG: Yeah, we don't wanna cause you to relive the whole
thing. [all laugh] Like "woah."
I try really hard not to do that.
SCOTT: No, I understand.
DOUG: Well the things that we look for – this is
what we do as ghost hunters. Then let us know...
Let me give you a few statements, and maybe this will help you out, and
...we'll do that if you don't mind.
SCOTT: No problem.
The last night is obviously the... The events of the last night were the
reason to have to leave.
And even with all of that, the idea of leaving and not going back never
occurred to us. It took getting a hold of Father Ray, and him saying,
"Well can't you go stay at your Mom's house," Kathy's mom's
house for a couple of days. It was just that reasonable question to get
us out of there, to actually get us in the van.
And then you go and get in the van and try to leave and it wouldn't start.
And that's [a] "right out of the movies" kind of idea. But that
was very simple. That was... Forgive me for huffing and puffing, but I
SCOTT: That's okay.
This pneumonia is just, like kicking me a bit right now.
SCOTT: That's okay.
DOUG: We understand.
SCOTT: We understand.
We had put – this is when transistor ignitions were kinda new, and
on my boat and on the family van I had put the same system which let you
actually push a button and change over from transistorized ignition to
conventional. And when the transistorized ignition, which was always working,
always had from the moment it was put on – when the van wouldn't
start, I just got out and went, opened the hood and pushed the button
and put it on conventional ignition, got back in, and it started right
up and we left. So it wasn't like, uh, you know – it wasn't as terrible
a thing as it could have been. That's just one of those things that comes
to mind tonight.
DOUG: Well just on that one particular thought, that's
one of the things that happens on almost every, every time I'm out on
the field. Whether I'm in a haunted house, or at a haunted location, or
at a, you know, different places, is – and we call it equipment
failure. Our batteries get drained immediately. You know, fresh batteries,
or batteries that just got pulled out of the charger. They get drained
immediately and something doesn't work. Will had a camera that just would
not shut off, even with the batteries removed.
WILL: For three days.
DOUG: For three days it would not shut off.
WILL: I couldn't take pictures with it, but all the indicators
DOUG: Right. The indicators were on, but there were no
batteries inside. And so we call it equipment failure, but that is a host
of, you know, that is a description of the kinds of things that happen
to us on ghost hunts. And we document it. We write it down in our logs.
And, you know, its nothing to that extent where you're trying to leave
and then your car won't start. That hasn't happened to me, but I have
heard of ghost hunters that have that happen to them. So that's got to
be really scary. But that is one of the kinds of things that we look for,
It was just something that you remember that was the last event, you know,
before getting out of the driveway and leaving. Just the last thing.
DOUG: Did you feel cold spots and warm spots in the house
Sure, there was one in the boathouse. It was right by the side door entrance
to the boathouse, off the backyard. You walk in there and to the right
there was always one right there. Going up the stairs to the, from the
first floor foyer, up to the landing in about maybe six or eight steps
up, something like that.
SCOTT: And that was on the stairs, itself?
You'd feel it right there. And it, they always felt like a draft, but
it wasn't like if you held something up, like a feather, you know, the
feather would move, or anything like that. It was just the cold.
SCOTT: It was just cold. It would go from–
Just a shot of cold right there.
SCOTT: And that was on the stairs, you said. Right?
Yeah, that's on the way out.
SCOTT: That's very interesting.
DOUG: Because you know ventilation was happening on the
staircase, 'cause air moves and there should not be a stationary cold
SCOTT: That and just stairs, themselves. We've discussed
that a million times on this show.
DOUG: Stairs tend to be...
They leak from air underneath them, and they have a, yeah, they have,
in this house they would have – the staircase wound around and went
on up to the third floor, so... And a lot of air placed open air above
DOUG: So it should have had plenty of opportunities to
equalize the temperature on the whole staircase.
DOUG: But there was this one cold spot. Yeah, that's
the kind of things we're looking for.
But there were two cold spots. One in the boathouse, one there, and then
there was one that would come and go in the basement. It wasn't like always
there. That was just one of those "its there today, and not there,
you know, the next time."
DOUG: And we follow those, too. [laughter] Those are
the kinds of things...
SCOTT: Yes, exactly.
DOUG: Even on "Ghosthunters" – the series
on Sci-Fi – you've seen them, "Ooh, its moving!" And they're
trying to follow the cold spot, and take pictures. And they document it.
Did you take any photos in the house?
I don't remember, I don't remember it moving – I remember that it
would be there or wouldn't be there. That's all.
DOUG: Oh, okay, so this would appear some days and not
be there other days.
No, you'd go down to the basement, and you'd walk around to the right
into the laundry room and at times it would strike you that there was
another spot like that. The next time you'd go down expecting it and it
wouldn't be there.
SCOTT: And that, it may just be moving and...
You know I don't know how to describe that.
DOUG: Either the energy was there or not, taking the
heat out of the air. Interesting. That's the kind of thing we look for.
We also look for... Is it time for you to go?
SCOTT: Well I was just gonna take a quick break here.
Let's give George a break. Let's give him a break.
[off-topic talk excised]
(cont'd) ...And we were discussing things in the previous segment, we
were discussing things about ghost hunting and the way society has changed.
How if he had needed this help that he needed back then in 1976 –
if he needed this help now I think he probably could have received–
SCOTT: Much more help.
DOUG: Much more help. Then its because of technology,
its because of society, its because of, you know, cable...
Communication, too, I would think.
DOUG: Yeah, communications, and, uh...
Communication has changed so drastically from back in the '70s.
DOUG: Yeah, everything is instantaneous now, it really
is the fast food of information nowadays.
Well long distance calls were a financial concern to anyone. I mean you
really thought it out before you made a call to California.
DOUG: Yes you did. I remember those days.
SCOTT: Well my biggest concern with the whole thing still
would be this idea that back then this was still – even though there
was things happening, we had people like Ed and Lorraine Warren going
around doing work like this – it was still a taboo subject. If you
were to go, "Hey Freddy, I saw a ghost last night," he'd be
like, "You're crazy," alright, "I don't wanna talk about
this with you. You're going nuts. You're seeing things." And that's
how it was just kinda warded-off, and there wasn't anymore questions.
Now there's more questions. If somebody comes up to me, for example, and
says, "Hey Scott," believe me, and a lot of people do come up
to me – I'm the person to talk to apparently. "Hey I saw a
ghost." The first thing I say now is, "Well, you know, what
did it feel like? What was the impressions you were getting? What was
this, what was that? Where were you at?"
DOUG: "What did it look like? What did you see?"
Yeah. And suddenly you get the third degree.
SCOTT: Yeah. "Give me the details," you know,
as opposed to "you're nuts, get outta here."
DOUG: Right. Things change.
SCOTT: "You're seeing stuff. You're crazy."
And I know for you it had to be a lot worse, obviously, because you're
in the house, George; but you also owned a business at the time. You ran
the business – you were the boss. So this stuff was gonna bleed
into your professional life. If you started discussing this with your
employees, they'd start thinking, "Well what's going on with my boss
here?" Your personal life, like you said. This was compounding on
top of all the elements of your life outside of this house, too. And that...
One of the, um, one of my – and that's interesting you brought that
up again. One of my employees from back then – John McCarthy, he
lives in Florida now – got in touch with me about 6-8 weeks ago,
or probably longer now, it might be 90 days, um, for the first time in
all these years. He did the original land survey for us, for the house.
In New York you have to get a land survey when you change title on a property.
And John came into the chat room on one of the websites that we have –
amityvillehorrortruth.com, we have a forum in there, its a chat room,
and Thursday night about, I'm gonna guess now about 70 days ago or so,
he came in there and told the story to the people that were in the chat
room at the time. First time ever that he had told anyone publicly of
what went on for him when he did the survey. He had never told me this
And he had – one of the requirements when you have a house on the
water is that you have to get the basement floor elevation above sea level,
relative to sea level. And he had dropped his tape down the basement stairs.
And the tape had dropped out of his hands and he had to go down and get
it. The tapes at that time – we used to buy them from a company
called Lufkin – they were a hundred bucks or so. I mean these were
very precise and very important, and you don't lose these, or you pay
them out of your own salary.
So he had gone down the stairs to get them, and this was in the dark.
And he's down in the basement, in the house. The fellow that was with
him to do the survey was sitting out in the car waiting for him. He heard
footsteps on the second floor. He went down after the tape, was crawling
around, found the tape on the floor, and a voice behind him told him to
At the same time of finding the tape, he found a sack. Just a small cloth
sack. And he took that with him. And he got out of the house and he got
out to the car, and he opened the sack, and the sack had silver dollars
SCOTT: Silver dollars?
Now this is after the murders. This is after the house has sat vacant
for a year. This is after the family has come in and cleaned out the final
things that needed to be moved out before we moved-in. This is after Kathy
and I had seen the house a couple of times before making an offer on the
house. And here he is finding a sack of coins on the floor.
DOUG: Something that they would have seen sitting on
SCOTT: Obviously, yeah...
DOUG: Because they would have gone into the basement
to clear it out, and had the lights on.
The day we moved in to the house, we found hundreds of pills in the carpet
and on the floor and in the be – by the baseboards, and all over
the second floor. All kinds of pills.
SCOTT: Just strewn about in the carpeting, you said?
In the house. In the house. Second floor. And just why weren't these found
before? Why weren't they cleaned-up? Why weren't they... They don't show
up in the autopsy photos, for example. Where did those come from? And
that's the day we moved in.
Yeah, its just another story – another Amityville story. And here
it is, 30 years later, John found me, found the website amityvillehorrortruth,
and went there, got hold of the webmaster and emailed me through him and
then told the story, and came into the chatroom and on his own told the
DOUG: Well we call that evidence. [George laughs] We
do. That's what ghost hunters would call it. Its another, you know, bullet
item kind of thing in a report. And that is evidence. Its another eyewitness
You know, speaking of 30 years later, they're making a new movie.
I heard that.
DOUG: Yeah, they're making an Amity... I do indeed hope
its a little, its gonna be better than the "White Noise" movie.
Because that was a little disappointing for me. So what do you think of
them making yet another movie. I imagine the first movie had to intrude
on your life quite a bit, but this second movie – what do you think
[George pauses, sighs and laughs – Doug & Scott laugh]
SCOTT: Oh no! George, if we can't talk about this, just
No, we can now. MGM is making this movie. Free speech still exists in
this country. There's no, you know... I've been accused by MGM of being
a hostile competitor of theirs, which I find a very interesting statement.
One of the, presumably, one of the moving papers recently. They sued me
DOUG: Oh my gosh!
Yeah. They sued me because we questioned their legal right, in a letter,
to make a – to do a remake. And we questioned it for a number of
different reasons, and we asked basically to discuss this with them. After
we resent the letters three times, they got an attorney – the largest
law firm here in Nevada – and sued me.
SCOTT: Just 'cause you wanted to talk to them about it?
No, they never, they wouldn't talk.
SCOTT: I mean that's what that was what your–
DOUG: But you want them to.
SCOTT: You came to them and go, "Hey can we discuss
We just wanted to discuss this with them and let them know what our point
of view was with this and see if there was a way to come to some kind
SCOTT: Well you think they may be, like, "Well maybe
he can give us some help with this."
DOUG: Yeah. Why wouldn't they be seeking your help?
SCOTT: I mean, yeah. "Maybe we can discuss this
DOUG: Instead of the opposite. Trying to alienate you.
I mentioned the Academy Awards before. The Golden Globes were on this
year, also, and two movies were made this last year about true stories.
And during the Golden Globes, movie stars that depicted real life people,
real life events, were talking about how important it was to do research
and to get in touch with the real people. For them it was everything in
terms of doing the most accurate movie that they could. And what has been
such a disappointing part of all of this is that MGM has made no effort
in any way, shape or form, to do that here.
SCOTT: So basically they just see a cash cow. Let's move
on it and put it out, cash in. Per usual. I mean I'm not trying to knock...
DOUG: Well that's Hollywood, you know.
Well it gets more interesting, you know. It turns out that Orion Films,
we knew, we had, we had sued years ago after Amityville Horror
came out as a movie with American International Pictures. They eventually
sold their company to – Sam Arkoff sold the company to Filmways.
And Filmways got in a bit of financial problems, and it eventually ended
up with Orion Pictures. In the process of the original movie coming out,
one of the things that happened was that Jay Anson, who wrote the original
book, sold the movie rights to CBS for a TV movie without our permission.
The people at AIP got a hold of the book, decided they wanted to make
the movie, and they got an option right – they got an option deal
done with Jay Anson. Then they came to us and told us, "We're gonna
make the movie," and we said, "No, we don't think you're going
to do that because Jay Anson owns 1/3 of the copyright to this book; Kathy
and I each own a third each," and we say what are known as sequel
rights. AI did the movie, but that would be the only Amityville Horror
movie they would make.
DOUG: So at least you were limited down now to one.
Well you never get sequel rights. So you need to understand that this
was a very unusual thing to have happen. So Kathy and I walked out of
that with very little money, compared to everyone else, but we did have
the sequel rights. Still do. In the process Dino de Laurentiis comes along
and sees a good thing and says, 'Well I'm gonna make an Amityville 2 movie.'
And their working title changed while they were making that movie –
and they called it at one point "Amityville Horror 2" and used
our names to publicize it. So in 1982 we sued them. And that was a 12
year lawsuit – and was settled in '93. That was with – settled
with Orion Pictures because that's how the rights had changed hands by
then. Orion Pictures' film library was eventually picked up by MGM; but
Orion Pictures as a company – as a legal entity – still exists
today, and Federal law, title 7, says specifically that you can not, will
not, transfer interest in copyrights, unless they're done by written form
or memorandum. Which means you gotta do this stuff in writing. MGM never
did that. So they've gone into production, produced and finished this
movie, and they've done pre-screenings of the thing; and they've advertised
it all over the place, and they've got announcements all over the web
for a year now, doing this remake that we took issue with, and they don't
have the right to do it, from our point of view – from what we can
understand. You're not allowed to have a – well I guess you're allowed
to, but the shareholders would sure be interested that a publicly-traded
company the size of MGM, that they're doing verbal agreements to make
movies in violation of title 7.
DOUG: That is unheard of.
SCOTT: What's unheard of in the first place is that you
do not do verbal agreements for something like that. We're talking millions
DOUG: See that's the one thing that – 'cause we
had only talked about that one movie once with the folks in Hollywood,
the screenwriter. And we had talked about one movie once and everything
had to be on the up and up. But that wasn't MGM, though. That was a different
Well this gets more interesting than you can imagine. This is just the
beginning of this lawsuit. So we'll see how this goes.
DOUG: That'll be interesting. So there's more to the
movies. So when you see it, or if they're allowed–
Oh its not just [unintelligible] the right. And I don't mean to limit
this problem to just whether they have the right to do this, but the content
is... The other part of the getting [of] the sequel rights was to get
a definition for what the sequel will be. That, and this was really hard-fought
– it was hard negotiations back then. They were chomping at the
bit to do this movie, and they – we did not have the resources to
deal with them legally, properly. But one of the things that was so important
was to say – to get language in our agreement with AIP that would
pass down to whenever, whoever, whenever – was the specific definition
for what a remake would entail – what the content would be.
We knew we didn't, as I said, we knew we didn't have control – you
never have control over the content of a movie once you sell them the
Doug & SCOTT: Right.
We did get a limiting clause that said that it had to be limited to the
same basic characters, same basic events. And to depict the same basic
events with the same basic characters. Well with the new version that
Michael Bay's company has made, with the cooperation with, who is it,
Dimension and Miramax and – Miramax is part of a distribution deal
– and MGM, what they've done here is they have from everything we
can determine, they've strayed way far from the original content of the
book, the original content of the original movie; and that then doesn't
become the legal definition that we had worked out and negotiated and
agreed to and thought was always going to be honored by these people,
with regards to what a sequel will be; or, I'm sorry, what a remake would
DOUG: So it goes from being a paranormal nightmare to
a legal nightmare, and it continues on in your life.
Well I think its been something like 13 lawsuits.
DOUG: Oh man! [laughs] We only have a few minutes. I
don't wanna get into a really really lengthy discussion because we're
like pressed for time, but – what makes them think just that they
can do that, and have any basis in reality if they're not talking to you,
if they're straying from even the book–
They're not concerned with that. You need to understand that they're not
concerned with that. We're on a program that 30 years ago couldn't have
existed, wouldn't have existed, for so many reasons – technologically
as well as attitudes.
And 30 years from now its gonna be even better.
DOUG: Exactly. I hope so.
And some point, the movie-going public is going to go, "Oh, that's
what you did? Well we don't wanna go see that." Some point the movie-going
public is going to say, "If you're gonna–" they'll make
a law, hopefully someday, someway, that says "you're gonna adapt
a non-fiction story, then you're gonna adapt it properly. You don't get
to do things in the name of creativity, just because you want it."
We're talking about real people's lives here – and people that still
are alive. And this is wrong.
DOUG: Wow. Yeah, I do – the one thing that I look
for, that I as a movie-going person – and I go see very few movies
actually – but one thing that I look for is I try to find, in these
ones that are based on real events, I try to find, you know, the real
events. I wanna see what happened. What was going on. And there's, um,
even the original Amityville Horror – which was, by the way, and
still is probably a classic for us who engage in this kind of hobby...
Oh this is, this is – it actually gets worse. MGM got involved with
some kind of special re-release of the publishing of the book –
and they had no rights of any kind to publishing. They did this with Simon
DOUG: The author, the author of the book – who
wrote originally Amityville–
Jay Anson wrote the original book.
DOUG: Jay. Yeah, and...
He died in 1980.
DOUG: But copyrights and rights like that last for a
hundred years, even after death, don't they?
Yes, I think its 75, maybe 100 now.
DOUG: Seventy-five. Okay. Well either way, umm...
I am the single living, surviving copyright holder of the book, but Jay
Anson's family estate still owns their percentage.
And Kathy died earlier this last year – her estate still owns her
percentage of course.
DOUG: Exactly. And no, none, nobody was going to take–
No rights were ever transferred to – no publishing rights in the
book itself were ever transferred to anyone else – yet MGM got involved
with Simon & Schuster and made an announcement earlier this year.
Well we found out that Simon & Schuster republished the book in 1990
without ever accounting to it for us – to us for it – or telling
us about it. Without the Internet we never would have found out about
this. Now Simon & Schuster, when we've taken issue with a few things
that they were doing about this, and this new – they were going
to put some kind of new foreword in the book, and we had no idea of what
that was going to contain. We got in touch with them, and they strung
us out for over four months this last year, so that now here we are at
the point where this remake is coming out, and they refuse to allow not
just for them to republish it, they refuse to allow us to republish the
DOUG: Oh my gosh!
[laughs] "Oh my God" is probably more accurate.
DOUG: Yeah. This is just – that's another –
its a nightmare. Its a lingering nightmare for 30 years.
It goes on and on and on. I have what are known as "Amityville days,"
where I actually spend 3, 4, 5 days a week doing nothing but dealing with
some of this stuff. And so we're looking, right now we're looking for
an e-book publisher, and we're going to publish this book, put it on my
website and we'll make it available to people no matter what.
DOUG: This is amazing.
We sold originally something like 16 million copies of this book worldwide.
Its an important book in that it documents for the first time an event
that is unlike any other in so many ways. And a lot of those people are
still alive. A lot of those witnesses are still here to say what happened
to them, and I will not allow this to be silenced while I'm still alive.
DOUG: And also stretched and reworked, because–
Distorted and I will fight forever when it comes to calling it "Amityville
DOUG: Wow. That is amazing what you're going through,
George. I know you've got to go because our time is up. But I do have
to say, I do hope, if you're feeling better next week, we would love to
have you back on. We can talk more about that, we can talk more about
the events, you know, for another hour.
And if people want to email in questions to you guys, that'd be great.
DOUG: Oh, yeah.
SCOTT: We will.
Let's deal with some of those. I'm sure there's a bunch of 'em out there.
DOUG: Yeah, 'cause this would be more like a little teaser.
People can actually formulate questions. We can just ply you with questions
about this stuff. But yeah, we will, if possible, if you're feeling better,
we would love to reconvene.
Oh I will be feeling better. I've got about 50% of my medicine done, and
I go back in on Tuesday to the VA to get some more, so...
DOUG: Excellent. Well George, hang on the line for just
one minute 'cause we're going to go to break, and then – and we'll
go to break and then I'll let you go.
DOUG: I wanna say, though, before we go to break and
let you go, I want to say thank you so very much. And I am very much looking
forward to next week.
WILL: Thank you.
Thank you for having me, I really appreciate this.
DOUG: 'Cause that's amazing to get to talk about one
of our favorite stories. And you – I have absolutely no doubt in
my heart that you are the owner of this story, because it happened to
you. And you're the one. I mean–
I heard a story this last week about people getting all upset about what
somebody said recently that wasn't involved in this directly, on some
kind of public foreign radio station or something – and, you know,
you gotta stop getting upset about that, because they weren't there, so
what difference does it make what they say?
We were there – we know what happened.
DOUG: Wow. Let's go to break, Will; and George, thank
you so very much.
talk excised – end of show]
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