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Subj: Halloween 2019 Roundup #3: Back to Amityville (Sorta)
Posted: Thu Oct 24, 2019 at 12:41:11 pm EDT (Viewed 709 times)
Amityville is not really a franchise, it's more of a phenomenon. As such there is no continuity between films but there is connective tissue, at least at the outset. Jay Anson, Hans Holzer, and John G. Jones all wrote novels that were about the DeFeo family murder, the Lutzes' experience in the house, or fiction based on one of the former. Most of these early movies were based on one of these books.
The Amityville Curse (1990) Trailer
The fifth outing doesn't use the famous facade, but it's supposed to be the same house. It looks different, as does the landscape, and it's not located on a lake as far as I can tell. But they tell us that something vaguely weird happened and the last family left in a hurry, and didn't even clear out their possessions. If there were a continuity, it would take place sometime after the Lutzes moved out and before the garage sale in part 4.
A priest is shot in a confessional booth by an unseen gunman who escapes. The booth is carried out of the church.
Years later: A couple, Marvin and Debbie, buy the Amityville house on a whim as a unique fixer-upper despite Debbie feeling like she's heard bad things about this house. Soon they invite their friends Bill, Abigail and Frank to come help them renovate. What follows begins as the least scary haunted house in memory. Marvin walks down the basement stairs and the handrail breaks. Debbie steps through a floorboard in the kitchen. Well, it's an old house. A door shuts on its own, but someone left the window open, it was just the breeze. The faucets don't work but they don't produce black goo, they just rattle. A black cat meows in the darkness but it doesn't jump out, it walks slowly. Finally, they toast the new house and Abigail's glass breaks, cutting her hand. It's something.
Debbie hears a noise and walks through the house, eventually finding herself in a basement storage room. The confessional booth is there and starts emitting smoke. Then a face pops out if the side of the booth and Debbie finds herself strangled by a zombie, but it's all a dream.
The next day a mysterious old lady named Mrs. Moriarty shows up, and pops out her glass eye. A dog attacks Frank and is cowed by a crucifix Debbie is holding. Debbie later sees a man outside her window with the dog, but then he vanishes. Bill heads down to the basement and finds a secret room like in Debbie's dream. The whole house starts shaking.
Everyone goes for a drink at the bar. Marvin talks to a couple of old timers who tell him about the murder house and claim his house has a soul. Moriarty confronts Debbie in the bathroom but doesn't tell her anything. Frank stays home with a headache. That night Debbie dreams of a man hanging himself and wakes up writing the number 111. She later finds the number written on a steamy mirror outside her shower.
Moriarty shows up at the house and wanders to the basement where an unseen figure pushes her down the stairs. The police show up to investigate and inform the owners that she was the secretary at the church around the corner. This house was a rectory, a priest's home. When the priest was killed in the confessional booth it was moved here to the house with all his stuff. The police say they chased some kid up a tree and he hung himself, but they don't know if he was the real killer.
Everyone decides to leave that night but the tires on the car are flat. Debbie sleeps and dreams of the night the priest was killed in the confessional. The confessor was the priest's bastard son who came for revenge on his father for abandoning him. At the same time, Frank lights every candle in the basement, trapping Marvin in the booth and shooting him. The police finally review a video from a camera Marvin had set up in the basement showing that Moriarty was murdered.
Debbie wakes up and goes to the basement. When Frank pulls a gun on her, she throws a jar of hot candle wax which melts off half his face. He chases her upstairs and lurches around like a blind Frankenstein monster until she throws a circular saw blade like a ninja star into his leg. She finds Bill asleep or dead in a chair. Abigail comes in and Frank attacks her, giving Debbie the distraction for the kill shot. The confessional explodes with white energy and a gust of wind blows through the house, knocking the front doors off the hinges just as the police arrive. The cops find a picture of a baby that Debbie found earlier, with the caption "born 11/1." Who is it? She says "it belongs to the house now."
I'm not usually the type to say a movie is boring just because it paces itself, but there is too little going on for too much of this movie. And I'm not sure what the payoff is. Was Frank possessed like George Lutz or Ronald DeFeo? Or was he the real killer of the priest, the bastard son, who got away years ago? The baby photo was found in his wedding album. If so, then why come back and then kill his friends?
The best performances may be from David Stein as the pompous Marvin, although you hate him, and Helen Hughes as Moriarty chewing the scene. Kim Coates as Frank is a good enough villain at the end but spends most of the movie in the background. Dawna Wightman as the screeching heroine gets a bit shrill for the amount of time she spends screeching.
This was a Canadian cheapie, a made-for-TV movie that only got released on VHS and is not on DVD, Blu-Ray or streaming to my knowledge. I actually picked up a Region 4 DVD from Australia and had to convert it from PAL.
This is loosely based, I understand, on the novel of the same name by Hans Holzer, who may have retconned the murdered priest into the cause of the DeFeo curse instead of John Ketcham or Indian burial ground.
Amityville 1992: It's About Time (1992) Trailer
I don't know if that title was meant to slam previous sequels but it's how I felt -- finally, an entertaining sequel!
Jacob (Stephen Macht) comes home from a business trip in faraway New York and he has brought a present for his family: an antique clock that he picked up from a house that was demolished in Amityville. He sets it on the mantle but no one sees it drill into the wood and anchor itself.
There is already drama in the house. Jacob has two teenage kids, Rusty (Damon Martin) who doesn't like his dad that much, and Lisa (Megan Ward) who doesn't like his ex-girlfriend Andrea (Shawn Weatherly) who was watching them while dad was gone. Jacob is still having sex with his ex although she has a new boyfriend Leonard (Jonathan Penner), a shrink. He must have his hands full with this family.
Mrs. Wheeler (Nita Talbot), a nosy neighbor, walks by Jacob's house and in a flash of lightning sees it turn into the Amityville house. The next day Jacob goes for a jog and gets attacked by a normally friendly dog from the neighborhood. His leg is all sliced up and bleeding and Andrea takes him to the hospital where he is prescribed bed rest. Andrea is stuck watching him for a couple more days.
Other odd happenings aren't far behind: Rusty flips a light switch and sees his kitchen transform into a torture chamber and back again. Lisa gets seduced by a mirror image of herself in a steamy scene and the next day she's suddenly dressed like the classic 'bad girl' and going out all night with boys. Leonard comes over to see Andrea and gets held at gunpoint by a deranged Jacob, while the real Jacob is asleep in bed. The dog who attacked Jacob is found dead and a swastika is painted on the neighbor's house; both are blamed on Rusty.
Rusty finds out that Mrs. Wheeler knows something. She has an old picture of the medieval torture chamber that Rusty saw in his kitchen. The clock is in the picture and Rusty starts to piece things together. Soon after Mrs. Wheeler is almost run down by a self-driving milk truck (a relative of the truck from part 4?) and after she narrowly escapes, meets her fate anyway.
Lisa seduces a boy home and he gets dissolved into a puddle of goo in the basement in a pretty gruesome effect. Soon Jacob is running around trying to kill people with a giant architect's t-square. Andrea and Rusty now know it's the clock's fault but it turns them into an old woman and baby, respectively. Andrea starts tearing at the walls and finds the walls are now all filled with clock gears. She busts the clock, resetting time.
Back at the beginning, Jacob arrives from his trip with the antique clock but Andrea grabs it and smashes it on the ground and storms out.
This movie has better production value than the last few. It has none of the signature Amityville bits, the black goo, the flies, the demon in the basement. Like Children of the Corn III it goes pretty far astray from the original concept but it's the better for it. This movie is wacky, it's got some shocks and gore, and moves at a pretty good pace.
The poster proudly proclaims "from the director of Hellraiser II" Tony Randal, which is another movie I like, with a fairly problematic production I hear. Unfortunatley he also directed the live-action Fist of the North Star so these may be his best two films.
The opening credits say "story by John G. Jones" but the closing credits tell us "inspired by Amityville: The Evil Escapes."
I guess the title was considered too dated, on DVD the "1992" was removed from the title and it's funny that when the title screen comes up in the movie, they didn't bother to retype it so the "Amityville" is off center and where the 1992 should be there's a blank hole.
Amityville: A New Generation (1993) Trailer
This is the third movie after Amityville 4 and 1992 to be inspired by John G. Jones' novel "The Evil Escapes" and he also serves as co-producer. In fact the working title for this movie was Amityville 1993. Both this and 1992 were written by the team of Christopher DeFaria and Antonio Toro, they both use the same logo and the same model of the Amityville house. But there the similarities end.
This time the haunted item that carries the curse is a mirror given by a homeless man to an artist with the unfortunate name of Keyes (Ross Partridge) who lives in a downtown loft apartment group with a bunch of other artists. His girlfriend Llanie (Lala Sloatman), neighbor Suki (Julia Nickson-Soul), fellow artist Pauli (Richard Roundtree) and annoying landlord Dick (David Naughton) round out the cast. Llanie decides the mirror is ugly but Suki likes it and wants to use it in her art. Her ex-boyfriend comes over drunk and starts destroying her art canvases. He sees himself in the mirror with his face sliced up, then runs away from it into a window which shatters and yes, slices up his face which kills him. The Amityville house appears in the reflection as if to say, "gotcha!"
Det. Clark (Terry O'Quinn) shows up to clean up the death scene and will keep poking around for the rest of the movie. Suki starts to see ghostly images in her studio and seduces Dick, then ends up dead. So now we're thinking the art studio is another haunted house but that's not where this is going.
Keyes and Clark find out that Keyes is the son of the old homeless man with the mirror who is Franklin Bronner (Jack Orend). Bronner is this movie's stand-in for Ronald DeFeo Jr. and he once lived in Amityville until he killed his whole family during Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps the mirror made him do it. Keyes visits the mental hospital where his dad was held and learns more history from an attendant (Lin Shaye) like how his dad killed his mom. Now Keyes begins seeing himself as his father, and dream sequences that he can't tell apart from reality. What, are we on Elm Street now?
Llanie decides it would be therapeutic for Keyes to reenact the murder spree for their art show coming up, only using a super soaker in place of the shotgun so no one gets hurt. Unfortunalty Pauli's art installation features a loaded shotgun so soon Keyes has gone mental and is about to shoot everyone at a mock Thanksiving dinner. He realizes the mirror is causing the problems and shoots it instead.
I saw a review that said this movie was better than 1992 because it tried something different. I think 1992 was the better film because it followed a tried-and-true formula while doing its own thing. A New Generation was like two different movies stitched together and didn't work as well.
Nice to see Naughton, Roundtree and O'Quinn get some work though.
Amityville: Dollhouse (1996) Trailer
Like part 3D, this movie is fiction without an anchor to reality. Bill (Robin Thomas) and Claire (Starr Andreef) have just married and they're moving their kids, his teenage son Todd and little girl Jessica and her tween son Jimmy, into a house Bill has built. Out in a workshed (that was already there?) they find a dollhouse in the shape the Amityville house and move it into the garage. The house's eye-windows light up and cause the car parked in the garage to run over the bicycle they had bought for Jessica's birthday when no one's looking, so Mom and Dad give her the dollhouse instead. It comes stocked with miniature voodoo dolls of the family.
Jimmy's pet mouse, and I'm not sure about this, gets into the dollhouse and at the same time a giant mouse appears in the family's house. Like the two are connected. Todd is startled and falls on the dollhouse killing the little mouse, and Jimmy thinks he did it on purpose. Jimmy's dead father begins to visit Jimmy and encourage him to kill his family in retaliation.
Todd and his girlfriend are in the shed when a fishing fly comes to life as a mechanical wasp that drills into Todd's ear. Claire actually says "let's drown it" as she pours a bottle of liquor into his ear. Later, Claire finds herself uncontrollably attracted to her stepson and can't stop licking her chops.
There is some odd history. They find a newspaper clipping about a man who murdered his family via arson and burned down his house. Only the chimney was left standing. Claire says it looks like the chimney in this house, and Bill says "yeah, I built our new house on the vacant arson lot and used the same chimney." Of course he did. He also says his own parents were killed in a fire and I think maybe there's a connection.
Bill and Claire's in-laws who fancy themselves spiritual borrow one of the voodoo dolls and perform a ceremony that causes it to come to life and split open revealing a giant wasp. Todd's girlfriend comes over to the house and bursts into flames. In Jessica's room, the dollhouse spins around crazily.
Todd's girlfriend and Jimmy's dad both show up as zombies trying to kill everyone. The family grabs baseball bats and starts defending themselves. Bill and bro-in-law Tobias jump into the fireplace and come out inside the dollhouse, shrunk to proportional size. There they see all manner of humanoid demons. Evil has never been so obvious in this series. Tobias casts a holding spell, I guess, but it looks like a laser light show. He holds the demons while Bill escapes back to the main house. He chucks the dollhouse in the main fireplace and both houses burn as the family escapes.
There's a little more skin than usual in this one. The most family drama other than 1992. Wacky plot. What can I say at this point, this series makes no sense and this installment fits right in.
These all seem like they could be episodes of Tales From the Crypt or the '90s Outer Limits. Watch all 4 trailers and you will have seen all the best bits from these 4 movies, for the most part.
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