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Why were 10 ‘Amityville’ movies released in 2022?

From movies about haunted sharks and sex toys, everything gets the 'Amityville' title, but why?

Amityville Horror promo
Image Via Hulu

The story of the infamous Amityville House is undoubtedly terrifying, but 10 movies in one year based around it seems a bit excessive. In fact, there are 50 movies in all that congregate under the titillating Amityville title. This begs the question of how do they pull this off without stepping on any toes, and why?

Amityville is a small town in Long Island, New York, home to the infamous DeFeo family, whose eldest son Ronnie shot and killed his parents, two brothers, and two sisters, claiming he was possessed. Admittedly there were some very strange factors to the case, for example, Ronnie used a very loud shotgun to commit the crime, yet not a single member of the family appeared to have woken up during the incident. He also claimed to have heard voices telling him to commit the murders. Although there were some missing pieces in the case, the jury did not feel possession was one of them and sentenced DeFeo to life.

The next residents of the home were the equally well-known Lutz family, who, shortly after moving in, claimed to have experienced paranormal activity of the highest degree. The family alleged to have seen full-body apparitions, heard voices, and experienced a sort of possession, along with a myriad of other instances that caused the family to flee from the home only 28 days after moving in. The debate about if they were telling the truth or out for a claim to fame wages to this day, but one thing is for sure—the two stories put Amityville on the horror map for good.

Amityville Horror home and family
Image via MGM

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, as they say, and the Amityville namesake is always going to be a draw for horror fans far and wide. The name “Amityville” rings bells associated with murder, haunting, betrayal, possession, and all the spooky themes that keep fans coming back for more. It’s no surprise that the Amityville brand has been used to sell viewers on all kinds of spinoffs including everything from Amityville Klown Kar to Amityville Island. Tales of haunted sharks, Bigfoot characters, sex toys, and marijuana (we cannot make this stuff up) all bear the Amityville name. Oh, and we can’t forget Amityville II, Amityville 3D, Amityville Awakening, and so on. Basically, anything that can be slapped with the name Amityville has received the label. Why? Because it works. It draws in fans and is exceptional clickbait. People hear the name Amityville, and they think of horror.

Although we know why the run on the namesake is being done, the question remains of how? With so many movies out, surely some of them go outside the legal parameters for using the name, right? Actually no, and here’s why.

Amityville is the name of a real town and the house itself—located at 112 Ocean Avenue—is the scene of a murder, which is public record. The name of the town and the story of the DeFeos is open to the public, so it is not held under any copyright laws. Also, the fact that the Lutz family lived there and the time frame they stayed is also public knowledge.

That being said, aspects of the Lutz story, the book detailing it, and the original 1979 movie do have restrictions. The original Amityville Horror was written by Jay Ansen and adapted into the original movie. These do contain intellectual properties and have caused a few scuffles between Ansen, the Lutz family, and outside film companies who came a little too close to their stories. Overall, infringement of the Lutz story is easy to get around by simply making the hauntings about anything else. The murders themselves are fair game, and attributing the haunting not to the home or Lutz family but to, say, a possessed shark gets the filmmakers out from under the copyright umbrella. In fact, the more outlandish the movies, the safer they are.

All of this could explain why according to Paste Magazine’s movie critic Jacob Oller wrote there are “more Amityville movies than Chucky, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Saw movies combined.”

While most horror stories are bound by at least some semblance of copyright, Amityville can skate around it fairly unnoticed. Between easy access to an attention-grabbing title and the creative freedom the film creators experience, it’s no wonder Amityville takes over the screens and our nightmares on a consistent basis.

Bethany Nicole
About the author

Bethany Nicole

Bethany is an LA based freelance writer and astrologer who specializes in entertainment, relationship and true crime writing. To see more of her work follow her on Instagram @bethanynicolelove.