What do you think of when you hear the name Amityville? Yes, it’s a village on Long Island, but what does it invoke in the mind of the average American?
Large or small, most towns are known for something, but often it doesn’t become a national phenomenon that forever defines the town in infamy.
Amityville joined the ranks of American towns like Pearl Harbor, Waco, and to an extent, Roswell, as being a place that the country associates with a strange or horrible event that happened there. The problem is that no one really knows what that event actually was. Was the Amityville house truly haunted? Or was it just a couple of crazy people inventing things?
Up until now, there have been only two witnesses to the Amityville events who have come forward. Both have now passed on. Thirty-five years after the fact, most people would think that there’s nothing more to be said on the subject, nothing new to be added. Those people would be wrong.
Because now, one of the hidden witnesses to the Amityville haunting has finally emerged out of the shadows.
Of course, nothing brings a person out of the shadows more than the bright lights of a film crew, which is exactly what Danny Lutz got. Back in July, filmmaker Eric Walter began shooting his documentary about Danny, the eldest son of the Lutz family, former owners of the infamous house in Amityville.
Up until now, George and Kathy Lutz were the only two witnesses to have ever spoken publicly. Danny was just ten years old when the alleged Amityville horror took place. He is now in his forties and just recently has decided to talk about the incident that he’s said has marred his life.
Danny has lived a bit of a guarded existence. He’s spent most of his time avoiding the media and anything that would give him undue attention. Why he is now letting Eric’s team essentially invade his home has become a wonder of mine. My wonder continued to grow, as I accompanied Eric and his crew on the film’s first shooting day.
I sat next to Eric while the camera crew put Danny under the microscope of a film lens and in the spotlight of a hot white beam which was made even hotter by a summer heat wave.
For a man who has been guarded for so long, Danny opened up on camera. At times, he was reserved and careful with his words. Other times, he was like a dam bursting. What he revealed changed any preconceived thoughts of Amityville that I ever had.
It’s not simply what he said, but how he said it. As one producer of Eric’s film told me, “Even if Danny had nothing to do with Amityville, I would still be hooked.”
Yes, he’s guarded, but it’s not as if Danny is a recluse. He has a life complete with friends and family, but like anyone, is not without its problems. That is where the heart of Eric’s documentary is: understanding how and where those problems started. This man has a story to tell. Danny may not want to, but it seems he needs to tell it. There’s a passion and conviction to his words that literally has to be seen and heard in order to be believed.