Date: Thursday, April 07, 2005

THE AMITYVILLE HORROR is generally remembered as a lesser horror offering from the '70s that rode on the coattails of bigger, better demonic-possession films of the era like THE EXORCIST and ROSEMARY'S BABY. Still, the name has a certain mystique to it in the horror genre, so it's not surprising that the film is getting a modern remake from MGM. The new version, which stars Ryan Reynolds (BLADE: TRINITY) and Melissa George (ALIAS), seeks to freshen the legend of the titular Long Island house and scare the bejesus out of you in the process.

Last fall, CINESCAPE visited the set of the film outside of Chicago, and we had a chance to talk to the cast and crew of the remake. Our first stop was with George, the Australian actress best known to American audiences as Lauren Reed on ABC's ALIAS. George filled us in on how she became a part of AMITYVILLE, and how the new film will differ from the original.

CINESCAPE: What attracted you to the part of the mom and housewife Kathy Lutz in this film?

MELISSA GEORGE: I think getting the project actually attracted me to the project! I was like you want me for this part? I wanted my chance at doing the horror genre and doing it well, and if you're going to do a horror film you might as well do THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, a true story, a famous book, a famous movie a famous story in American history. That's what attracted me to the role. And then, of course, once I got the part, the role of Kathy Lutz... she's everything. She's passionate, she's caring, she's strong, she's the hero in the end, saving her family and her husband it was just great to portray somebody who's real.

C: Had you seen the film or read the original book before you got the job?

MG: No, I didn't. The only thing that I heard about was [what my agent] told me. I knew about the book, but I didn't know about the film because I guess it came out in [the '70s]. I wasn't even thought of then! So I just auditioned for the film based on, "What is this woman doing in the story?" I didn't know who she was or anything. I just wanted to read the scene and go from there. And then I watched the film once I got the part I thought that was a bad idea to do because the original film doesn't really go into what the book was about, I don't think. And you know, in the last 30 years they've discovered a lot about the story that's come up, through the coroner and Kathy Lutz and George Lutz. We had new evidence [about the history of the house] so we really found it hard to get an idea from the film.

C: What did you think of the original film once you saw it?

MG: It was fine. They really don't talk about what happened in 1692 with the Indians, which I think is a major part of this house. What really happened before the DeFeos, before the Lutzes, is really important, and that didn't really enter into the original film. So we're really giving the audience of this film a lot of what they want to see.

C: You're talking about the legend that the house was built on an Indian burial ground? How is that explored in your film?

MG: Just here in the "red room" with the Indians we're showing a lot of that. What [real-life 17th century witch John] Ketchum did to the Indians under the basement of that house, that was documented [but] was not really in the first film. Yeah, in the original you see the two eyes and the blood coming through the walls, but that was all you saw. That doesn't get too gory, but we're going into that a little more. 1692. It's a true story.

C: So are you seeing the ghosts of the murdered Indians?

MG: It's almost like a flashback. No ghosts. You're seeing it for real. What really happened under there.

C: It seems that you and Ryan Reynolds are a bit too young to be playing the Lutzes, who have three kids in the film.

MG: [laughs] [Our oldest son] Jesse James is playing 11 or 12. On Long Island in the '70s, women had babies that young. My mother had three babies by the time she was 25. Nowadays, women want to have children older, but it was kind of common in the '70s. I'm playing a woman who is 28, so I'm not playing older than I should. She's a great character and she has a few kids. I love it! We're playing younger than Margot Kidder and James Brolin in the original, but I guess that's Hollywood today. I guess they want younger people to come [see the film].