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Melissa George /the Amityville Horror

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Trailer: The Amityville Horror

Former soap star Melissa George stars in a remake of The Amityville Horror. Katrina Lobley knocks on the door of the spooky house, wanting to use the phone.

Photo of Melissa George

Haunted home & awayRelated

April 15, 2005


Director: Andrew Douglas

Stars Melissa George, Ryan Reynolds, Philip Baker Hall

Rated MA

Screening Now

Actress Melissa George was only three when The Amityville Horror hit the big screen in 1979. Based on one couple's real-life account, the haunted house story hit a collective nerve, becoming a worldwide hit.

"I didn't even know it was a remake - I just thought it was a great story," says the former Home and Away star. "Everyone who's older knows about the story, but I had no idea."

George quickly got an idea after scoring the plum role of Kathy Lutz. The role of her husband, George Lutz, went to the young actor Ryan Reynolds.

The Amityville movies were inspired by Jay Anson's book of the same name, which detailed the woes of the Lutz family when they moved into a house in Amityville, Long Island, where a family had been slaughtered in their beds.

On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo jnr shot his parents and four siblings, claiming "voices" in the house drove him to commit the murders. A year later, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into what they thought was their dream home. Four weeks later, they fled, not pausing to take a single possession with them.

There have been many theories about the bizarre and inexplicable events that the Lutzes say occurred in the house. Some people say the likely explanation is that George Lutz had a breakdown while living in the house.

As for the star of the remake, George is circumspect about what she thinks really happened in the house.

"I think it's a combination of everything people think," she says. "Anyone who doesn't come back for one thing in their house ... something must have happened in the house. Not one thing? You just open the door and quickly get the thing and run out? No. They never went back for a thing.

"The fact it could have been true means people just watch the movie going, 'Gosh, did this really happen?' Of course, half believe it did and half don't, which makes it even more interesting."

What most people want to know about any horror movie is if it's scary or not. The new Amityville prompts at least a couple of full-body jumps. It even managed to scare its leading actress when she first saw it.

"I shed my skin, because there were two scares in there I wasn't aware of," she says.

"It got me great and I loved it - I was getting scared in my own movie, which was quite fun."

During her whirlwind visit to Australia, George will attend another screening of the movie with her family in Perth.

"I can't wait," she says. "What you do is sit at the back of the audience and watch everyone go like this" - sitting on a couch, George lurches forward at the waist. "The whole audience goes schzhoong and you're like, 'Yes!' This is the wave of a horror film. It's when they're scared and they all have the same body reaction. They either go up or forward, so there's a wave.

"So I'm going to watch the wave with all the Perth people. It's like, 'C'mon, open your eyes, get scared. You're still alive.'"

If George is sounding a bit excited, she is. Her career is coming along nicely after landing her first leading role on the big screen five years after moving to Hollywood.

After a run of scoring roles in TV shows that never got past their pilots, she guest-starred on Friends as a lesbian nanny and joined the cast of Alias as the devilish Lauren Reed.

Later this year, she will play the wife of Clive Owen in Derailed, which also stars Jennifer Aniston.

George says life in Los Angeles is "brilliant", which is hardly surprising considering she's now in the same salary bracket as fellow Aussie Rachel Griffiths.

The only chink comes when George is asked where she lives in the City of Angels.

"I live about 10 minutes from the Malibu area," is all she'll reveal. "I have enough troubles. The area's called 'Something'."

Sounds like there's a horror story there somewhere.

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