Remake Disturbs His Spirits
figure in the story that spawned several horror films files suit
over his murderous portrayal in the most recent installment.
Robert W. Welkos, Times Staff Writer
Lutz is being haunted again -- only this time, it isn't by supernatural
forces in Amityville. It's by images on the big screen.
has filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming
he has been libeled by this year's movie remake of "The Amityville
Horror." The movie is based on the real-life story of Lutz
and his family, who moved into a home in Amityville, Long Island,
N.Y., not long after six people had been murdered there by the
previous owner. The Lutzes fled within days, claiming the house
was haunted, and their story became the basis for author Jay Anson's
1977 bestseller and spawned several movies.
Lutz, who now lives in Las Vegas, isn't happy with how he was
portrayed in the latest film version of the horror tale. Lutz
filed suit June 10 against Dimension Films, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
and others, including two screenwriters, for libel and breach
of contract, claiming the movie remake makes him look like a "homicidal
the course of the movie, Lutz is portrayed: killing his dog with
an ax, attacking his son with an ax, building coffins for his
wife and three children, trying to drown his wife, chasing his
wife and children onto the steeply-pitched roof of the house at
night during a rainstorm and also shooting at them with a rifle.
never did any of those things, according to the suit. A spokeswoman
for Dimension Films declined comment.
While conceding that the film is a work of fiction, the suit notes
the movie purports to tell the "true story" of what
happened when George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved
into the house where the previous owner, Ronald DeFeo, murdered
his mother, father, two brothers and two sisters in November 1974.
DeFeo is serving consecutive life sentences in prison for the
Lutz family moved into the Long Island house on Dec. 18, 1975,
but left only 28 days later, leaving behind most of their personal
possessions, believing the house was haunted. Lutz and his wife
later divorced and she died last year, according to Lutz's attorney,
suit also states that Dimension failed to fulfill their promise
to pay Lutz $50,000 once the movie reached $10 million in theatrical
box office receipts and also owes him a percentage of both the
film's net profit and merchandising profit. The R-rated remake,
which starred Ryan Reynolds as Lutz, opened in April and, despite
dismal reviews, has grossed about $64 million domestically.
the Lutzes allowed their names to be used in the original 1979
American International Pictures film of the same name, which starred
James Brolin and Margot Kidder, the suit contends there was nothing
in the agreement they signed that would prevent them from filing
a defamation action in connection with any subsequent movie.