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Scary movies have a home on Long Island

The "Amityville Horror" house was thrust into the

The "Amityville Horror" house was thrust into the spotlight in 1974, when Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered six family members there. The house at 108 Ocean Ave. (formerly 112 Ocean Ave.) was subsequently purchased by George and Kathleen Lutz. The couple's story unfolded in a 1977 book written by Jay Anson, wherein he details their stay in the house for what they described as 28 horrifying days. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

What is it with Long Island and horror films?

"Final Destination" and "Final Destination 2" took place here. "The Amityville Horror" and "Silent Night, Bloody Night" were shot here (not to mention such low-budget works as "5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas," "Madman" and "Malevolence").

New Hyde Park's Jim Haggerty, whose L.I.-based horror feature, "The Witchmaster General," screens Saturday night, is part of this distinguished tradition.

His microbudget production tells the story of a voodoo witch doctor who runs a murder-for-hire business. Rocker Phil Lewis of L.A. Guns plays the evil Dr. Gorgon, who's also in league with Satan.

"The movie is like an old Vincent Price-Roger Corman-Edgar Allan Poe adaptation," Haggerty says. "Only it's kind of that gone berserk."

It's also "a very Long Island movie," the writer-director, 38, says. Haggerty, who has shot all or part of six features on the Island and funds his movies himself through his Yellow Ape Productions, filmed "Witchmaster" in East Meadow and at a house in Wantagh.

The primary location, though, was the Stewart Manor Country Club, which served as Dr. Gorgon's main lair. In a classic blend of Haggerty's professional and personal lives, it's also where the filmmaker was married.

"We wanted to have this large and beautiful and opulent place that folks would buy as a mansion where the doctor was doing his evil," Haggerty says. "It really just fell into our lap. At the time we were doing this, my wife and I were looking for a place to get married. We really, really liked the place, and I thought this would be the perfect location for a film."

There's a good chance you've never heard of Haggerty or his other films, among them the vampire tale "I Dream of Dracula" and "Grave Danger," about a terrifying caller. There's nothing more challenging for an independent filmmaker than getting his movies to their proper audience.

But "Witchmaster" isn't just screening at Huntington's Cinema Arts Centre because it's a local production.

"It's really imaginative, it's quirky, it's offbeat and it's funny," says Cinema Arts co-director Dylan Skolnick. "A lot of these [cult horror] movies are humorless. This one really is a blast."

'The Witchmaster General'

WHEN | WHERE Saturday at 11 p.m., Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. Filmmaker Jim Haggerty, actress Tatyana Kot and other cast members will attend the screening.

TICKETS $9 members; $13 public

INFO cinemaartscentre.org

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