Amityville: An Origin Story — a new, four-part docuseries on MGM+ directed by Jack Riccobono — dives deep into the true events behind one of the most popular horror films of all time: The Amityville Horror — and explores whether dark occult rituals could be to blame for the infamous 1976 haunting.
What happened in the 1977 book by Jay Anson and the 1979 movie starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder is not what happened in real life, according to Christopher Lutz, who was a child when his now-deceased mother and stepfather moved their family into the reputedly haunted house just one year after six members of the DeFeo family were murdered there.
Lutz believes the truth is much more sinister than the book or movie explains.
The Lutz family, consisting of parents George and Kathleen and their three children, Christopher, Daniel, and Missy, moved into the house in December 1975. (Daniel and Missy were not interviewed in Amityville: An Origin Story).
According to George and Kathleen’s account, they lasted only 28 days before they fled out of fear of the paranormal activity they say they experienced in the home, a large Dutch Colonial house in the small, Long Island, New York village of Amityville.
Although it’s been almost 50 years since he lived in the house, Christopher Lutz is still haunted by what he says happened within its walls — and he’s determined to set the story straight.
According to Lutz, Jay Anson’s 1977 book The Amityville Horror and the 1979 movie of the same name leave out a key piece of information about his stepfather: that he was dabbling in the occult.
Christopher Lutz reveals in the docuseries that he believes George Lutz, who died in 2006, purposefully opened the door to dark supernatural forces by doing occult rituals in the house — and then twisted his story about what really happened there to make a profit.
“He was very angry at his stepfather George Lutz because he felt that George ultimately embellished the story in press accounts and in subsequent books that he wrote, and kind of turned what was a real experience for Christopher into something that he was clearly trying to monetize and turn into a business,” director Riccobono says.
“But I think that’s part of what gives Christopher credibility, is that he’s willing to kind of call out his stepfather for things that he feels were embellished.”
In the docuseries, Lutz says he believes that any house would have become haunted if it was the site of occult rituals like the ones he believes his stepfather performed. One way that Lutz says his stepfather invited negative spirits into the house is through Transcendental Meditation, a widely used form of meditation that spread to the West in the 1960s and ’70s.
TM involves repeating a mantra chosen specifically for each person by their guru. But according to Lutz, his stepfather went rogue from traditional TM practice and began meditating with unapproved mantras that Christopher believes had the power to invite dark and even demonic spirits into the house.
To those who practice TM (including this reporter), don’t worry: Riccobono isn’t trying to scare anyone out of doing TM.
“It’s not supposed to be a takedown of TM… that’s very particular to Christopher’s take on how he thinks the misuse of TM may have led to what they experienced in the house,” Riccobono says.
Reps for the Maharishi Foundation USA, which teaches the official Transcendental Meditation technique, did not immediately respond to MovieMaker‘s request for comment about the use of TM in the Amityville house.
Aside from pointing fingers at who or what caused the haunting, Riccobono is fascinated by how the Amityville story has lived on through the decades, continually piquing the interest of people who weren’t even alive when it began.
“There must be more to that story, but Christopher didn’t share it with us. I think one of the crazy things about Amityville is that it is this kind of insane feedback loop at this point that I don’t think will ever end,” Riccobono adds.
“It’s had this whole second life on the internet and social media, and people keep reinvestigating these events and coming up with new theories. Now, Christopher is a really interesting individual and he has his own ideas and beliefs about what happened and he wouldn’t share everything with us. And that was kind of common in this landscape.
“Amityville is this strange alchemy of paranormal and greed and murder and distrust. So almost everyone who touches this story is obsessed with it, can’t leave it alone, but also wishes that it would go away forever,” ” Riccobono continues.
“There’s a very surreal conflict, I think, from the people who are directly touched by the story, where somehow, it just keeps pulling them back in.”
Amityville: An Origin Story premieres on MGM+ on Sunday, April 23 at 10 p.m. ET / PT with new episodes arriving weekly.
Main Image: The house at 112 Ocean Blvd. in Amityville, New York, as it looked in the 1970s pictured in Amityville: An Origin Story. Courtesy of MGM+.