A horror novel from 1977, which chronicles the events of a family settling in a house that witnessed a mass murder, and where they eventually get caught up in supernatural shenanigans.
This book has examples of:
- Agony of the Feet: George hurts himself when he stumbles over a lion figurine that was somehow on the middle of the floor, and when Kathy patches him up afterwards, she finds teethmarks on his ankle. (And blood on the figurine.)
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: The DeFeos. This much of the book is indisputably Truth in Television: Ron Sr. was both verbally and physically abusive towards his wife and children, Ron was heavily into drugs and alcohol (and later diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder) and had already confronted his father with a loaded shotgun several months prior to the murders.
- Cut Phone Lines: Every conversation involving Father Mancuso
- Dramatic Drop: When a bartender learns that George Lutz lives in 112 Ocean Avenue, he is so shocked that he drops the empty beer glass from his hand, and it shatters on the floor.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: The house is constantly cold, even as George burns through wood and oil to keep up the heat.
- Hearing Voices: Ronald DeFeo claimed that a voice in his head told him to kill his family. And the ghost telling Father Mancuso to "get out."
- Identical Stranger: George comes to learn that he's a dead ringer for Ronald DeFeo.
- It Kind of Looks Like a Face: The house's iconic quarter-moon windows in the upper story give the unsettling impression that the house is looking down on its occupants...and that it is not pleased by what it sees.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Little Missy tells that she has an imaginary friend called Jodie, who turns out to be the pig apparition that George saw in her window.
- Offscreen Teleportation: The lion figurine mentioned above keeps getting closer and closer every time someone looks away from it until it's right there.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The pig-like demonic creature called Jodie had red glowing eyes, which Kathy sees staring at her at one point. Outside a second-story window.
- Too Dumb to Live: At one point, George reads the names of demonic beings out loud while on the phone with Father Mancuso. The priest is none too happy George is evoking the name of demons in an extremely haunted house.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The book was based not on direct interviews with the Lutz family, but on a series of disorganized audiotape recordings they'd made, for their own use, of themselves discussing their recollections of events. Author Jay Anson then had to piece together a readable novel out of this and some other research done on his part. He admitted to re-arranging, embellishing, or outright creating certain events in order to make for a coherent, scary story. As such, even he and the Lutzes admitted the book wasn't a completely factual account - though the Lutzes maintained it was the most accurate portrayal of their experiences ever published, for whatever that's worth.