Horror franchises often succumb to the weight of their own initial greatness. The first few entries are seen as highlights with later titles struggling to capture the same magic or excitement. That being said, there are times when a diamond shines out of the rough and an entry in a long-running series stands above its predecessors.
For many, The Amityville Murders is one such case. After decades of countless spinoffs, unrelated titles, and subpar entries, Daniel Farrands’ film is a huge hit with audiences, earning the film an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with one person even saying that it’s the, “…BEST of the Amityville movies, since the 1980s.”
The film stars Diane Franklin, who starred in Amityville Horror II: The Possession. And since there’s such a great connection, we couldn’t let that opportunity slip past us, which is why we asked Diane to come up with a list of her top 10 movies that are based on true events! You can read her full list below!
“Based on a true event, the film relays the nightmarish story that preceded the one detailed in the original 1979 classic film. On the night of November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. took a high-powered rifle and murdered his entire family as they slept. At his trial, DeFeo claimed that “voices” in the house commanded him to kill. This is their story.“
The Amityville Murders was written and directed by Daniel Farrands. The film stars John Robinson (Elephant), Chelsea Ricketts (Crooked Arrows), Diane Franklin (Better Off Dead), Paul Ben-Victor (Daredevil), Lainie Kazan (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), and Burt Young (Rocky).
You can watch The Amityville Murders on Amazon Prime.
1.The Murder of Sharon Tate
Written and Directed by Daniel Farrands, this film is fascinating, scary and answers so many questions. Plus Hilary Duff is remarkable as Sharon Tate!
Based loosely on mass murderer John List. It is terrifying and unrelenting. When I saw it I really felt empathy for Jill Schoelen character. The idea of having a person living with you that you cannot not trust, let alone a mass murderer is terrifying. Side note: I became friends with Jill and Susan Snyder recently at a signing convention!
This film really scared me, but what I think what was most memorable, was Heather O’Rourke. She was so innocent playing the youngest daughter who could see ghosts. I really believed she saw those ghosts. I love that this film is based loosely on a true story on a family that lived on Long Island! Side note: The mother, JoBeth Williams played my older sister in a Thornton Wilder play at the McCarter Theater, back when I was 15 years old!
4.A Nightmare on Elm Street
First of all, I love Heather Langenkamp in this film! And Amanda Wyss, who worked with me in “Better Off Dead” was so vulnerable and memorable in the room turning scene. But the idea of not being able to fall asleep because someone is after you, in your sleep, is probably the worst nightmare ever. This is what happened in real life to a young boy who died in his sleep thus inspiring, writer/director Wes Craven. Side Note: Heather, Amanda and I were friends back in the early 80s, and are still bffs today!
5.Amityville II: The Possession
I have to include this film, because I acted in it as the daughter, and I know that the first half of the film is based on the true story of the DeFeo family. Although, the film portrays the brother as having incest with his sister (my character), this is speculation. We will never know what really happened between them, unless Butch Defeo himself decides to tell us the truth from prison, where he is now. Regardless, the film is very real, scary and considered the best of the series.
This film is a classic. It feels more creepy to me than scary. Maybe it because I always saw it on TV and not in a theater. My favorite part was seeing the skeleton dressed. as the grandmother in the rocking chair at the end, and then hearing Anthony Perkin’s voice as the mother. Scary to think the man who this was based on, had actual human skulls and skin at his home.
This was the first horror film I ever saw in a movie theater. I was 11 years old. It was shocking and scary and I had nightmares for days. But it also was a rite of passage. I felt cool because I had the guts to watch something so frightening! I think that is what started my love of horror. Side note: I auditioned for the lead role of Reagan, when I was 11, but was a little too young to play the role…
Not only based on a true story of 5 people from New Jersey getting killed by a shark, but the absolute winner of the jump scare. I stopped swimming in the ocean because of this film… at least until I played the role of a seductive beach baby-sitter in Summergirl.
Absolutely my favorite horror movie I saw as a child. Saw this on TV and loved that the blob was so slow, but unrelenting!! No quick scares here, but terrifying! Never knew this was based on a true story of policemen in Philadelphia witnessing something gelatinous fall from the sky! As my character in Terrorvision would say, “GAH-ROSSS!!”
10.The Amityville Murders
Seriously, one of the most riveting horror films based on a true story ever made, and the best acting performance of my life. I play the role of Louise DeFeo and while shooting the film, a lot of weird, creepy and unexpected things happened. I was not a real believer in bad energy before this film, but now that I felt it, I can tell you bad energy is real and contagious. You have to be aware of it and deflect it.