One of Long Island’s most haunted places is the area of Mt. Misery, which is a short road located within the West Hills County Park, in the town of Huntington, on the north shore of Long Island in northwestern Suffolk County. This byway has developed a reputation for being the source of strange experiences and hauntings.
Growing up in Old Bethpage in the ’70s, Chuck Morrongiello was well familiar with all the lore and inspired enough by it that he and his wife Karolina were inspired enough by it to write, produce and star in an indie film called Amityville: Mt. Misery Rd. It all started out as a lark when Morrongiello and his spouse were up from their Tampa home visiting his father back in December 2015. It was while killing time, the duo went over to Mt. Misery Road, where they started making what was intended to be a goofy video shot on an Android Galaxy 7 phone that was initially destined to go up on social media.
“We went there and walked around in 12-degree weather. Karolina asked me what this place was and I told her it was cursed and that’s been the case for centuries. I started talking to her about Mary that lived in the woods and stories I heard about an old asylum that burnt down—just like in the movie. Bottom line is that we just took out a camera and I started shooting something funny about where we were, make a little video and post it up on Facebook,” Morrongiello recalled. “I was filming her and we went back to the hotel and started looking at the footage we shot during the day to see if we could see any weird stuff going on in the background. I started seeing her on camera and she looked good. We went back the next day and did some more scenes, then we’d go back to the hotel and review what we did. Before long, we started to have a story come together.”
Over a three-day period, the duo wrote a screenplay and started stringing scenes together. Throughout 2016, a couple of more return visits to Long Island ensued, with more filming going on. A Florida segment was included along with a visit to the Huntington Historical Society, where background info about Mt. Misery dating back centuries was learned about and incorporated into the beginning of the movie.
A member of a number of Long Island-themed Facebook groups, including Long Island Memories (Yesterday and Today) and Hey Long Island…Do You Remember…?, Morrongiello was shocked at the response he got when he put up a post asking for people’s Mt. Misery Road anecdotes. Among the most frequently told legends are of a Hell Hound with glowing red eyes, UFO sightings and the spectres of deceased patients who were committed to a mental asylum that burned down back in the 1800s.
“When I asked about Mt. Misery in those Facebook groups, everyone was telling me about Mary Hatchet, the troll and the hangman’s noose. It was just going on and on,” Morrongiello said. “People were going back to the ’50s. I had people remembering things going on in 1951 and 1960. I’ve read stories dating back centuries about this place. So there is a lot of passion and enthusiasm going on about this.”
Knowing there was this much interest behind the subject, the Morrongiello’s spent the better part of two years in post-production and finding a distributor. The completed project had two major indie film horror distributors fighting over it before the decision was made to go with ITN Film Distribution. As for Amityville: Mt. Misery Rd., the DIY production style is reminiscent of 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, another low-budget horror film. In both movies, the suspense of implied menace and doom is what drives the narrative, in this case, a couple intending to prove the folly of a cursed place that winds up leading down a path of doom. Amityville: Mt. Misery Rd. was initially released back in May, with the DVD being available in Walmart for the first few months after it came out. It can currently be seen On Demand on TUBI TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime and Google Play. Currently working on another project, Morrongiello was thrilled with how the movie came out and credits his satisfaction with how effectively suspenseful it is despite the lack of any special effects.
“Our film slowly grows and builds up that anticipation. You’re always wondering what’s going to happen next. Karolina goes from being this blonde Barbie doll and becomes this other woman,” he explains. “She’s going along for the ride with her boyfriend, who is a ghost enthusiast. Then it becomes a nightmare for her. We wanted to develop that character from just being the blonde girl and have her go into this crazy vortex of Hell.”