Amityville 3-D

08/17/2015 20:06

Film: Amityville 3-D

Year: 1983

Director: Richard Fleischer

Writer: Williams Wales

Starring: Tony Roberts, Tess Harper and Robert Joy



This film is one that I knew was out there but didn’t seek it out until trying to collect all the main franchise films of Amityville. What was a selling point was that this featured young Lori Loughlin, Meg Ryan and Robert Joy. I was also terrified by the original as a child. The remake was one that I also dug when seeing it in the theater. I wasn’t overly high my first two watches, so I was curious what my Traverse through the Threes watch would bring.

Synopsis: a reporter moves into the Amityville house in defiance of the supernatural events connected to it and finds everyone around him besieged by the evil manifestations which are connected to a demonic presence in the basement.

We start with a couple coming to the house for a séance. Our couple is John Baxter (Tony Roberts) and Melanie (Candy Clark). There is an elderly couple that is hosting the event. The wife is a psychic, Emma Caswell (Leora Dana), and her husband, Harold (John Beal) helps. John and Melanie are there to communicate with their dead child named Rikki. It turns out to be a hoax and our younger duo are there to prove it. Dr. Elliot West (Joy) and the district attorney show up. The Caswells flee the house. Since they’re there, Elliot wants to run tests, but the power goes out so they decide to come back.

The next day we meet the man that owns the house, Clifford Sanders (John Harkins). He claimed to have no knowledge of what the Caswells were doing, but John thinks otherwise. While in the basement, Clifford falls through the floor to discover a dry well. John saves him. In return and to not be implicated, Clifford and him come to an agreement with John agreeing to buy the house for cheap.

We also then learn more about John’s personal life. He is going through a divorce from Nancy (Tess Harper). I get the idea that they had issues, but Nancy doesn’t want him to leave. They have a teenage daughter named Susan (Loughlin). We also met her friend, Lisa (Ryan).

Clifford gets to the house first to finalize the deal. He goes inside looking for John. He hears something upstairs and checks it out. We see a mirror ice over as he does. He gets up to the attic and there are flies. They continue to multiply until they engulf him. John arrives and goes up the stairs to find Clifford choking to death.

This is just the start of odd things happening here and people around John being hurt. He doesn’t believe it is the house and just coincides. Melanie has an experience to the point where she refuses to come back. Nancy doesn’t want her daughter going to the house, even though John has a room for her. Lisa pushes for her and a couple of guys to go there to check it out. Much like with the Lutzes and the DeFeoes, tragedy and misfortunes seem to follow this place.

Now that is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. I’ll start by saying again I like the original Amityville Horror. This isn’t that one. Becoming a more seasoned cinephile, this isn’t as bad I remember. A big positive I’m taking away this time is the continuity. They don’t come out and say it, but the events of The Amityville Horror happened. They bring up the DeFeoes by name and I believe Lisa recounts what Ron Jr. did there. I can appreciate the care to not ignore these items.

The biggest drawback I can say here for anyone coming in is that this goes cheesy as opposed to what the first two in the series did. I do like that we are looking at it from the side of the skeptics though. John and Melanie work for this magazine where they disprove of the supernatural. They work with Elliot who has machines to record and gauge things. I believe I saw in the trivia that this is borrowing from the real-life accounts of investigator Stephen Kaplan. It seems he questioned the validity of Ed and Lorraine Warren as well as George and Kathleen Lutz about whether the Amityville house was haunted. I find it interesting to borrow this for the basis of the story.

Despite this, I do think it is a misstep that we don’t get more information revealed. Instead, this feels like it is borrowing a similar story as the first two movies while not taking place as much in the house. We do get a sequence near the end where Elliot sets up to run an experiment to see what they can record. This goes into the ending though so there isn’t enough. We do get to see the ‘demonic entity’ behind the haunting here which I did like. It doesn’t look great, but I have a soft spot for practical creatures. What we got there feels more like Gillman from Creature from the Black Lagoon. Not exactly but inspired.

I’ll stick with filmmaking. This movie was shot in 3D and it wants you to know it. There are so many things that will be turned toward the screen and supposed to pop out at you. Some work where others don’t. I’d liked a bit more of the horror elements to be 3D if it works. This comes off as a bit much for me. I did like what they did with sound design. We hear voices which is in line with the previous movies there. The rest of the soundtrack was fine.

All that is left then is the acting. I thought this was solid across the board. Roberts plays this skeptic so well. What I’m curious about though is what happened with him and Nancy, that they aren’t together anymore. Harper works as this character. We see that she still loves John but can’t change his mind. I like Joy in his role. Clark was good as this sidekick to John. Beal, Dana and Harkins are good as the charlatans with the house. It was also interesting to see young Loughlin and Ryan. The rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.

In conclusion, this is going to be the highest that I’ve been on the movie. I’ve come to realize that this isn’t as bad as I remember. It still isn’t great though. I do like that the continuity is there. We are building and referencing the first two movies. Where they take it though wasn’t great. Since we are following investigators, I did want more there. The acting is solid. They go a bit overboard with the shots being catered toward 3D. My guess is that the studio had a say. The effects other than that are solid with the soundtrack as well as design working for what was needed. One of the last solid Amityville films in my opinion.


My Rating: 6 out of 10