(Investigator 109, 2006 July)

Suppose the following occur in your house:
You probably wouldn't stay long and if you paid rent you'd want a refund.

After 28 days the Lutz family likewise fled their house.

A priest tried to exorcise the place but fled suffering from mysterious blisters. Ghost hunters were called and felt demonic forces.

There followed the best seller The Amityville Horror: A True Story (1977) authored by journalist Jay Anson. Then the movie The Amityville Horror (1979).
Anson's book is about a haunted house in New York where the above-listed events happened.The publisher called the book "non fiction". The introduction said: "The names of several individuals mentioned in this book have been changed to protect their privacy. However, all facts and events, as far as we have been able to verify them, are strictly accurate." 

The movie got poor revues. Typical is: "A yawn inducing rehash not even good for laughs."

Spin-off movies were as bad as the first:
  • Amityville II (1982)
  • Amityville 3D (1983)
  • Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989)
  • The Amityville Curse (1990)
  • Amityville 1992: It's About Time (1992)
  • Amityville: A New Generation (1993)

Considering that the book is subtitled "A True Story" how true is it?

Six members of the DeFeo family were murdered in their Ocean Avenue house on November 13, 1974 while they slept.

Another family member, Ronald DeFeo Jr, was found guilty and jailed.

The house was purchased by George and Kathleen Lutz in 1975 and, in December, they moved in with their three children. 
Jay Anson interviewed George and Kathleen Lutz and built his horror story on what they said.The Lutzes swore all this was true and Jay Ansen claimed he had adequate independent corroboration.The Lutz family went on a nationwide tour to promote Anson’s book as their "true story." They appeared on TV shows and were written about in magazines.

The Amityville Horror sold over 3,000,000 copies and the 1979 movie based on the book grossed $80 million. The Lutz family made a fortune from film and book rights.

Eventually Ronald DeFeo's lawyer, William Weber, admitted that he and the Lutz family had made the story up. The lawyer had wanted to call for a fresh trial and therefore promoted the idea that a "force" made his client murder. In People magazine (1979, September 17) Weber said, "We created this horror story over many bottles of wine."