TOMS RIVER – In the film “The Amityville Horror,” an unsuspecting couple buy a beautiful house that winds up being haunted by unspeakable evil in its past.
The house where the movie was filmed still stands on Brooks Road in downtown Toms River.
Jillian Messina of the Toms River Police Department told JerseyShoreOnline.com that a neighbor called police after hearing an explosion at around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 12.
“Toms River Fire Company arrived on scene and was able to quickly extinguish the fire that caused a propane tank to explode on the rear deck of the residence,” she said.
The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported. The neighbor said he did not believe anyone was inside at the time. The fire does not appear to be suspicious, she said.
Far from being cursed, this would be the first headline of any negative nature that the house garnered in four decades. Although some of the sequels were partially filmed there, the house has been pretty much quiet ever since.
Or, as they say in the movie, “Houses don’t have memories.”
Locals are proud of the town’s entry into classic horror, and it’s a fun bit of trivia to enlighten people who don’t know about it. It was even mentioned at a recent Toms River Council meeting. But generally speaking, it’s been off the beaten track and out of the news.
The movie was based on a book and the book was based on a real story. The real house, where a family was murdered, still stands in Long Island. The book chronicles the story of a haunting that allegedly took place with the Lutz family that moved in afterward.
Naturally, people in Long Island were not keen on having a horror movie filmed where actual horror took place. So, the production company had to find a suitable location, the late Manny Hirschblond told the Toms River Times in a 2018 interview. He was the Township Clerk at the time, and was a key figure in getting it made here.
Before he was the township clerk, Hirschblond was the division manager with Walter Reade theaters. He recalled that a connection through the theater world reached out to him, saying that the film was looking for locations in New Jersey.
They had a picture of a New England home that they wanted to film in. Hirschblond said immediately he knew a house that was a virtual twin. No one could believe how close the connection was.
Toms River’s brush with Hollywood touched many aspects of the town. Locals made cameos and were hired to do work. Hirschblond’s son taught James Brolin how to throw an ax and Margot Kidder invited local kids to her daughter’s birthday party. Several other locations also popped up in the movie, like the bridge to Seaside, the Bishop building of the library, Washington Street, the Merry Monk bar, and Georgian Court University.