Based on a 1977 book of the same name, The Amityville Horror was possibly the first major horror movie — but not the last — purported to be based on a true story. Both the book and the film chronicled the events that befell a Long Island, New York family in late 1975 after they moved into a home where a troubled young man had murdered his entire family.
In the years since its release, the authenticity of these real events has been widely questioned. Not debatable, though, is that audiences ate up The Amityville Horror in its 1979 theatrical release. Taking in $322.6 million, it was, per ScreamFest, the second-biggest movie of 1979, only behind eventual Best Picture winner Kramer vs. Kramer. Its box office run closed out the financial hot streak horror movies had been on during the 1970s. Thanks to titles like The Omen, The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror, horror movies had reached new financial highs during that decade. Additionally, The Amityville Horror laid the groundwork for future horror movies like The Conjuring to find success in tying their scares into reality.