Home TV Shows Director Jack Riccobono Talks MGM+ Docuseries Amityville: An Origin Story

Director Jack Riccobono Talks MGM+ Docuseries Amityville: An Origin Story

Director Jack Riccobono Talks MGM+ Docuseries Amityville: An Origin Story


Starting this Sunday on MGM+, director Jack Riccobono will take horror-loving followers on a journey into the origins of The Amityville Horror.

The four-episode docuseries research how the movie captured the zeitgeist of the period as curiosity within the paranormal elevated and the way the real-life crime that occurred in the home fed into the lore.

By way of never-before-seen interviews with individuals with first-hand relationships to the murders and the movie, Riccobono gives viewers a shocking inside have a look at how the movie impacted us for generations to come back.

We had an opportunity to speak with Riccobono in regards to the collection, what impressed him to take the journey, and what stunned him most about what he discovered alongside the best way.

Please benefit from the interview under, which has been edited for readability and content material.

What received you interested by documentary filmmaking?

I am attempting to grasp different individuals’s worlds. So I believe I used to be drawn to documentary as a result of it means that you can go to and perceive subcultures and take you to locations that you have not seen or understood earlier than. That is the transportive high quality of documentaries that I like.

What is the genesis of the present, and what was your thesis for Amityville: An Origin Story?

Properly, the origins of the story. This challenge happened as a result of there had by no means actually been an elevated have a look at the Amityville Horror — all of the layers of it and what gave rise to it.

And I believe that is why the title is Amityville: An Origin Story as a result of we actually attempt to have a look at all of the components that got here collectively to create the phenomenon of The Amityville Horror, which actually continues to this present day with over 40 movies that includes the phrase Amityville in them.

I suppose what fascinated me was all of the totally different layers to the story. You will have, after all, the horror story that was featured within the 1979 movie. Lots of people do not understand that that is primarily based on a real story of the Lutz household who moved into this home in Amityville and received haunted out 28 days later.

After which, even earlier than the Lutzes, you then have the DeFeo household who, a 12 months earlier than the Lutz moved into the home, suffered this horrible tragedy the place six out of seven members of the family had been discovered shot to dying of their beds below mysterious circumstances.

So for me, there’s this layering the place you will have the horror style of the ’70s; horror movies, that are an unimaginable house that I like; paranormal investigation, which was exploding within the Seventies, tremendous in style, attempting to grasp phenomena which can be unexplainable; after which you will have this heinous true crime that occurred in 1974, which was an enormous occasion in and of itself.

I imply, in 1974, mass homicide was not regular. And sadly, at present, we face plenty of mass shootings. However in 1974, this was front-page information coated by Walter Cronkite; this household discovered shot to dying of their prosperous suburban house.

So I actually wished to have a look at how these two occasions of the murders of the DeFeo household and the hauntings of the Lutzes got here collectively on this very specific second within the ’70s to create what we consider because the Amityville Horror.

What do you assume is the extra attention-grabbing a part of the story, the murders or what occurred to the Lutzes?

I actually assume it is the alchemy of the occasions, and the way the tales intertwine with one another as a result of they actually overlap in bizarre and shocking methods. And I believe that what ties them collectively is basically the cultural second.

You will have these darkish undercurrents within the Seventies with Nixon resigning, the Vietnam Conflict, individuals distrusting establishments, and this backlash to the free love, freewheeling late ’60s. So the early ’70s had been a darkish and bizarre time in America, and I believe that that is a part of why these two occasions had been capable of mix on this loopy trend.

One of many huge issues is you will have The Exorcist popping out in 1973, which was this large phenomenon that popularized the thought of demonic possession and the concept individuals would exit and get exorcisms. And it additionally was an instance of a real story that blew up into this large Hollywood blockbuster.

So in plenty of methods, that laid the groundwork and was just like the template for what would occur with The Amityville Horror, though I do not assume the Lutzes may have ever imagined how a lot consideration would come from their story and that it could nonetheless be getting instructed in an increasing number of loopy and ridiculous methods to this present day.

I actually loved the credit score sequence the place you had all of the unusual film posters. Oh my gosh, I had no concept that it had gotten to that time the place something is Amityville.

Sure. That is a few various factors. I believe that this story redefined the haunted home for a technology of individuals within the ’70s, and it actually captured their creativeness. Amityville can also be a city identify, so it will possibly’t actually be copyrighted, so actually anybody may make a film and put the phrase Amityville in it.

So that’s a part of why the franchise has so many tentacles and has gone in so many alternative wild and loopy instructions. And clearly, the web and social media have spun it out in much more loopy and wild instructions, and I do not assume it is ever going to cease.

I all the time discovered it attention-grabbing, too, that there was the Amityville Horror, after which Amity was town in Jaws.


It appears to me like these two issues had been conflated at a time once you would not have anticipated it, simply attributable to that straightforward little phrase, Amity.

Completely. Amityville is “the pleasant village,” so it has a poor underpinning to it. It is just like the pleasant village, aside from the darkness that lurks beneath.

Out of your perspective, what units Amityville: An Origin Story other than the whole lot else that has come earlier than it?

I believe one of many issues we’re most happy with is that we had been capable of get individuals to take part and sit down for the primary time, individuals who had skilled these occasions firsthand and share their tales instantly. And before everything, Christopher Quaratino, previously often known as Christopher Lutz, is the center son of the Lutz household.

He was seven years outdated when the Lutzes received haunted out of the home. And he sat down for his first in-depth interview to essentially clarify intimately what he remembers from being seven years outdated and residing via that interval.

After which past that, the affect of those occasions on his household throughout the remainder of his childhood as a result of it was necessary to us to have a look at the story from plenty of totally different angles, together with the human toll that the story took as a result of, clearly, it has been spun out in all these loopy, wild instructions and it is gotten additional and additional away from the factual underpinnings of each the DeFeo murders and likewise the Lutz’s story of what actually occurred.

So Christopher shares what he thinks occurred to him, but additionally who he thinks is liable for the hauntings that the Lutzes skilled in the home. In order that’s, after all, an thrilling ingredient of the present. After which we even have shut family and friends which have by no means been interviewed earlier than.

So Carol Soviero, an in depth pal of George Lutz who toured the home with the Lutzes earlier than they moved in after which was with them within the fast aftermath and moved out to California with them, shares her tales of that point interval for the very first time.

After which, on the DeFeo aspect, we have now a really shut pal of Ronnie DeFeo Jr, who was convicted of the murders for killing his complete household. We converse with Tommy Maher, who was, once more, an in depth childhood pal of Ronnie’s, and he speaks in regards to the occasions main as much as the murders and what he thinks transpired. In order that’s one side.

We even have footage and pictures that haven’t been launched earlier than and paperwork that we consider make clear the origins of the story.

Was there anyone or something that you simply wished you had entry to that you simply did not?

Ah, that is a troublesome one. I imply, there are all the time components you can’t fairly observe down. One of many issues that basically fascinated me in regards to the story was the mafia connections that the DeFeo household had. And whereas we had been capable of set up these hyperlinks, lots of people won’t converse on the document about these hyperlinks even at present.

In order that ingredient is within the collection of mafia connections that the DeFeos had. There’s extra to that story, however individuals aren’t prepared to speak but.

Oh, it is the mafia. You is likely to be just a little reluctant to out something that goes on with them.


What was essentially the most shocking factor that you simply found alongside the best way?

Essentially the most shocking factor. I suppose it actually, in some methods, goes again to how widespread the fascination was with demonic possession within the mid-’70s, which I believe ties proper again to The Exorcist.

However individuals had been actually obsessive about this concept of possession and of exorcism, and that was an attention-grabbing factor to find all these years later, that it turned such a widespread concept and that folks would entertain that.

After which use it as leisure.

Sure. Precisely, precisely.

About issues which can be shocking, I like that you simply contact upon George Lutz and the way he was talking with some unsavory people and focused on demonic possession himself.


How did you uncover that after which comply with up on that line of pondering?

Properly, with out giving an excessive amount of away, I do not need to have any spoilers, however we had been clearly very centered on the whole lot that the Lutzes stated in press interviews of the time.

So we did a really deep dive into the entire factual information after which, after all, tried to work backward to see, “Properly, what may we confirm, or who may we ask to get one other perspective on this?”

So with George Lutz, one of many issues that has all the time been a thriller about him may be very little has been recognized about his childhood or about his life previous to when he met Kathy. George isn’t the daddy of Christopher or of Kathy’s older youngsters.

Principally, Kathy and George met, they received married, and inside about six months, they moved into the Amityville home. So that each one occurred fairly shortly, and one of many issues that was mysterious about this story is George’s previous.

So we had been capable of join with an in depth pal of George’s named Joe Vetter, who described some motorbike journeys that they took. And it was via him that we had been capable of set up that George did have some publicity to the occult within the 12 months previous to transferring into the Amityville Home.

And I do not need to say rather more than that, however you get this sense that as a result of George, in interviews, explicitly denied ever figuring out or having an curiosity within the occult. And it seems that he did truly meet and go to the house of a really well-known cult determine named Raymond Buckland, who popularized Wicca within the Seventies.

In order that was fairly an attention-grabbing discovery and means that maybe George knew extra in regards to the occult than he initially shared in press interviews within the ’70s.

I additionally actually just like the quotes originally of every episode and the way they set out what the episode goes to speak about. Do you will have these issues in thoughts beforehand? Have you learnt these quotes and assume, “I would like to include these ultimately and use these as a information,” or do you seek for quotes after the actual fact?

We had been attempting to determine the present within the early days of the enhancing course of and experimenting, and our supervising editor added that Jean-Paul Sartre quote, “Hell is different individuals,” to an early lower, and it simply supplied a framework.

And once more, it supplied a chance for us to remark out of the gate and arrange the viewers in a sure means and put them in a sure state of mind for the right way to method the story as a result of this isn’t your typical documentary collection.

I believe it is a fairly wild journey that we take you on, the place every episode has a really totally different taste to it. The primary episode is basically like a horror docutainment with soar scares, the place you are taken into the thoughts of the Lutzes and expertise what they are saying occurred to them.

In episode two, it is rather more of this hard-boiled true crime investigation of the DeFeo murders and actually tries to have a look at how these unexplained components of that crime led to paranormal explanations.

After which, within the third episode, you will have this loopy mixture of the tales of the DeFeo murders and the Lutz hauntings and the way that gave rise to the bestselling e book after which, in the end, the 1979 movie.

After which the fourth episode has this investigative documentary high quality, the place we uncover new features of George Lutz’s previous which have by no means been revealed earlier than.

So we wished every episode to have its personal sort of really feel, and the quotes actually ended up supporting that. And funnily sufficient, they landed and simply caught via the method. We did not audition 100 totally different quotes or one thing. Someway, the early quotes ended up, I believe, informing the place we took the episode.

And it is simply a type of unusual qualities, I suppose, that unexplainable alchemy of the publish course of, that we had been capable of land on these quotes.

And in the end, I believe there are other ways to learn them, however definitely, one strategy to learn them is thru the lens of George Lutz, who actually is giant as a central determine on this complete story. And I believe you possibly can apply all of them to excited about him in a method or one other.

And eventually, what do you hope individuals take away from this after watching?

Properly, I hope that they’re going to really feel connections to our present second in it. I believe horror is an unimaginable style for exploring actual anxieties and fears that we face on daily basis.

And I believe that this present unravels one of the well-known horror movie horror tales of all time and means that you can see it via many alternative angles, together with the components within the ’70s that led to its existence.

And so I hope that in watching the present, individuals can replicate on the second we’re residing in now, and possibly that can give them a brand new perspective on how we’re dealing with a few of the fears and anxieties of our day.

Amityville: An Origin Story premieres on Sunday, April 23, on MGM+ at 10/9c.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a workers author and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Alternative Affiliation, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of tv and movie with anybody who will hear. Observe her on Twitter and e mail her right here at TV Fanatic.



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