Usually busy working over at Bloody Disgusting, one of the cooler Net guys out there - 'Brad Miska' took on an assignment for me a few weeks back. He visited the set of the new "The Amityville Horror" flick currently shooting in the North East of the US and sent back this first of a four part report. Part one checks out the sets and talks with the producers. Later on we'll have chats with stars Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George & the director.
"Back when MGM and Dimension Films both announced their plans for another 'Amityville Horror' film, it looked like things might get quite interesting over the next year- that was until the two studios shook hands and made one great deal- a deal to make one "good" movie. It wasn't until the announcement that Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller's Platinum Dunes Company would be the producers of the film that made everyone sigh a huge breath of relief. Whether you liked it or not, after the unorthodox remake of 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' you knew there was a new force in horror, a group that could bring life back to our beloved but dying genre- and that group was Platinum Dunes.
When I found out 'Amityville Horror' was filming Buffalo Grove, IL, my hometown of 24 years, I nearly freaked out. So when I found out where they were shooting the interior to the film, I had to make a hard decision- walk or drive? I chose drive because I'm a lazy arse... So when I walked into the building where they were shooting there were pictures pinned all over the walls like something you'd see in a detective movie. The wall contained many valuable clues to the movie from having the storyboards for the entire end sequence pinned up (I avoided it at all costs) to tons of 70's pictures (Kiss to Alice Cooper to Super Sugar Crisp cereal). There were also tons of fake newspaper clippings about the 'original murders' in the Amityville house before the Lutz's moved in for nearly 1/4 the cost.
Before we entered the set, we were shown some exterior shots of the new Amityville house, which we were informed that a lot of fanboys didn't appreciate. The house is bigger, better and scarier; I had no problems with the slight new look. Once we entered the stage area I got good bumps because it was so flipping amazing! There was an entire roof with the northwest children's room attached that was built right in the building. You could go inside and check it out- it was one of the creepiest rooms I've seen since I was on the Haunted Mansion ride in Disneyland. This tiny room belonged to the little girl in the movie who gets locked in the closet; it bared a cross on the wall, had a hallway attached to it and contained that dreaded closet that she eventually gets locked in. Outside they built a replica boathouse and another roof of the house for some more exterior shots that they needed to have more control over. There was also the car from George's company.
Back inside and next door to the "roof" was the basement, which was custom built to look like the originals. The dark gray and decaying stone walls with the fake spider webs everywhere gave me a sense of dread just standing there. There was a wooden staircase that lead to the basement and to the right there were tons of boxes for the Lutz's to unpack. The entire day we were there they shot scenes from the basement. The scenes we got to watch them shoot where when George and Kathy Lutz check out the house before they buy it and then we got a special treat- a serious Ryan Reynolds! Later in the evening we got to see a small scene where Ryan Reynolds is about to lose it, this time Ryan is no laughing matter...
Sure I was excited after I saw all the goodies, but I still needed to know that 'Amityville' was in good hands. To my surprise producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller were both hard at work on the set- but still found a few minutes to get me pumped beyond belief!
Usually when studios and producers get a project moving, there's a reason behind it like money or a great script or just the need for the film. When I heard Brad tell us how they got 'Amityville' going, I knew there was going to be some heart involved, "(Amityville) wasn't brought to us, my partner Drew, grew up right near Amityville, about 20 minutes away. He came into my office one morning in a dramatic fashion and threw a disc down right in front of me and said this is the next movie we're going to make. Drew and I tried to get it done for a couple of months but we couldn't get it done, people just kept saying maybe, but then it all fell together kind of quickly."
One of the fears that seemed to dwell in most of the reporter's brains was whether or not Dimension could deliver us a good movie. Both Brad and Andrew both assure us that "Michael Bay has the final say." They also explained that Dimension has been extremely supportive and have let them do things their way. Even more exciting, Andrew says he's a fan of true horror- and the story, especially since he lived there, "I'm a big fan of the story, I'm a big fan of truth in horror whether it's disputed or not," he continues, "there's a movie out right now called 'Open Water' that we all know that there is no way of knowing what really happened. But of course there is a marketing campaign that says 'Based on a true story.' Personally when I go to the movies and it's a true story, it fascinates me because I'm watching something that happened to real people. I was just a kid when (the murders) happened in 1974, but the idea that this guy murdered his mother his father and his four brothers and sister in the middle of the night and no neighbor heard a gunshot or anything and no one in the house woke up- there's something fascinating about that." After constant rips on the original film from 1979 finally a little respect comes out of Andrew as he continues, "The original movie scared the hell out of me as a kid but when I re-watched it, some of it was kind of hokey to me, some of it worked, some of it didn't."
But the real surprise came when discussion of the famous "red room" came up, Brad explains, "Andrew Douglas (the director) has come up with a different interpretation of the red room. People will be looking for the red room, we are going to deliver not a red room, but something evil is in the basement and we're going to try and unveil something that no one has ever seen before."
Besides bringing a fresh new look and end to the film, the opening sequences are new to the story and will help further the development of the characters, Andrew explains, "We show the family in Deer Park, where they lived in a small house before they brought the Amityville house. We wanted to show the audience where they lived before they moved to this $300,000 house that they got for 80 grand." Brad takes over, "It makes it more understandable that they would buy that house. For us always the hard jump to make is who is going to buy that house? But if you see these people and you kind of understand their situation it makes that bitter pill a little bit easier to swallow."
Next up for Platinum Dunes is the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre Prequel," which will hit next Halloween! The script is being written; they want Hoytt back because they loved his character so much. Andrew says, "We also wanted to answer a lot of questions that people were asking- why chainsaw and why massacre?" Sounds like a bloodbath might be on our hands!
You know the rules of Amityville, "Katch em' and kill em'"- you'll see plenty of blood soaking the walls. Check it out on April 15th, 2005. Expect more interviews from the set soon.