Amityville 3-D

Amityville 3-DSynopsis: Inside these walls, nothing is impossible…except survival.

The home of unspeakable evil is back to torment all who cross its threshold, as Dino De Laurentiis and legendary director Richard Fleischer (Soylent Green) present “a horror picture of considerable class and polish” (Los Angeles Times)! Packed with bone-chilling special effects, this third rendezvous with terror in Amityville stars Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Robert Joy, Candy Clark and Meg Ryan.

To debunk the Amityville house’s infamous reputation and take advantage of a rock-bottom asking price, skeptical journalist John Baxter (Roberts) buys the place and settles in to write his first novel. But as soon as the ink on the deed has dried, people who have come into contact with him-and the house-begin to meet with a shocking fate. Is it coincidence…or is this house really the gateway to hell?

This is not the 3D transfer of the film.

***********************************************************************

Amityville 3-D 5.5

eyelights: Tony Roberts. the corny 3-D effects.
eyesores: Candy Clark. Tess Harper.

“A famous writer once said “Reality is the only word in the language that should always be used in quotes.””

Following the tremendous success of ‘The Amityville Horror‘, producers naturally wanted to cash in on its popularity. What did they do? Like the original, they decided to base their follow-up on a book, to give it an element of veracity and some “real-life” chills. What they did was to tap into the gruesome events leading to the Lutzes’ move to Amityville, the DeFeo murders from a year prior. The result: the derivative ‘Amityville II: The Possession‘.

But now that they’d exhausted all the (purportedly) fact-based material, what were producers to do to cash in further? Well, the next logical step would either be: 1) go further back int time to explore the site of the original Indian burial ground, upon which the house was claimed to be built, along with the Satanists who eventually built a home on it, or 2) cobble together a sequel to the original film, inventing a new set of incidents.

They chose the latter. But they still needed a gimmick, so they made the picture in 3-D!!!

1983’s ‘Amityville 3-D’ takes us back to 112 Ocean Avenue. Since the incidents at the house back in 1977, con artists have been using it as a base of operations, making use of its notoriety to hold scéances and fleecing their clients. John Baxter, a hardened skeptic who is a reporter for Reveal, a magazine that specialize in urban legends, investigates the house’s current residents with his partner Melanie, exposing their operation.

Having driven them out, he is convinced by the realtor who rented the place to the con artists to purchase the house. Having recently separated and being on a budget, he decides that the place is as good as any; he needs a quiet place to write, and enough room for he and his teenage daughter. And he’s certainly not swayed by the property’s reputation, having seen enough scams in his day to disbelieve anything he doesn’t see for himself.

But, naturally, the house has plans for him…

‘Amityville 3-D’ is probably one of those movies that can only be appreciated by people who like bad movies: it has no original ideas of its own, the cast is frequently risibly bad, and it makes no sense whatsoever. In fact, it’s probably why I enjoyed it as much as I did, even as I cringed at how ridiculous it sometimes got. People in the correct frame of mind, who watch it for gits and shiggles, especially with friends, will no doubt have a hoot.

*MAJOR spoiler alert*

The film begins with a clearindication that it intendsto be kitschy: with 3-D opening credits. Even though I watched it in 2-D, it’s totallyevident what they were going for, which these massive raised titles leaping off the screen (I can only imagine what it would look like in 3-D). None the 3-D elements are subtle at any point during the picture.

It only gets better.

  • When John and Melanie arrive at 112 Ocean Ave, there’s a scéance taking place – on a stormy night, of course. The medium is hilarious, so fake-sounding, that I was relieved to find out that she was meant to be a scam artist.
  • They find a well under the floorboards in basement. No one had ever noticed it there, even though they stumbled upon it with ease. Because one would naturally keep an open well under one’s house. (Of note, the original film had a hidden room under the stair, whereas the prequel had a hidden room at the back of the basement. Where was the continuity police when this was made?)
  • Melanie prints up copies of some pictures she took while visiting the house and the realtor shows up all distorted – right before he dies. This would be creepy if it hadn’t been ripped off wholesale from ‘The Omen‘.
  • The realtor gets locked up inside the attic, which then fills with flies and suffocate him. Ha! Not only is this risible, but it’s also ripped off directly from the first film!
  • John has a strange incident while taking the elevator at work: it stops abruptly and zooms to the top, only to stop and zoom back down. Not only does nothing come of it, but he hilariously sticks to the ceiling while on the way down! Nice!
  • Melanie is attacked by a wind in the basement. A wind. When John returns, she is cringing in a corner or the main floor’s hallway. Her reaction to his arrival? Not relief: she runs out and drives away in hysterics. Too much! Why was she waiting around then?
  • John’s daughter brings her best friend to check the house out. Kids being kids, they decide to play with a Ouija board (thank you ‘The Exorcist’), after which she dies in a boating accident – that we don’t get to see.

This and the elevator incident raise one MAJOR question: Why does the house affect people when they’re away from it? And if it’s so powerful that it can reach out that far, why is it only toying with the people inside it?

Because you can’t rip off from too many movies, the ending is ripped off from ‘Poltergeist‘, which was released only a year before – to much success. Here John allows his friend, a scientist studying paranormal activity, to come visit the house with his crew. Needless to say, that doesn’t go well. Not well at all. (ha… punny)

Finally, in a fit of destruction that kills almost everyone inside, the house begins to self-destruct. As visually satisfying as it is, why would the house do this to itself? How does the evil that resides there benefit from destroying the house?

Um…  aside for killing the franchise, I mean?

*MAJOR spoiler alert*

The thing that made me shake my head the most (and would likely elicit quite a lot of laughs from less uptight people than myself), is Candy Clark as Melanie. While I found her adorable and sexy in ‘One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest’, she is so gawdaful here that she stinks up every scene she’s in. It gets so bad, in fact, that at one point she’s supposed to look like she’s shivering from the cold, but it looks like she’s having a small epileptic fit. Too funny!

Tess Harper, who plays John’s ex, is also laughably bad, unable to deliver a line worth her life. But at least we were fortunate enough to get a small cameo by Meg Ryan as the daughter’s best friend, hamming it up for comic relief, and Tony Roberts, giving the only decent performance in the whole picture. How he ended up slumming like this, given his pedigree (he was mostly known his Woody Allen film and Broadway performances) is beyond me.

But thank goodness for him, otherwise this would have been unwatchable. In fact, the movie was so poorly-received by critics and the public alike that it ended up being the last of the series to be released in cinemas until the remake of the original, in 2005, over two decades later. And yet the series persisted: seven straight-to-video Amityville films were produced since, not counting the knock-offs, and another sequel is headed to the cinema in 2015.

I highly doubt that I will pay any of them any mind. There’s only so much Amityville I can take.

Story: 6.5
Acting: 4.0
Production: 6.5

Chills: 4.0
Gore: 3.0
Violence: 3.0

Date of viewing: September 15, 2014

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