Judge Brett Cullum just bought this antique clock. Suddenly, we've noticed a change in his writing style. Uh oh!
Beyond time…beyond evil!
Somehow the "true" story of The Amityville Horror inspired seven feature-length sequels and a 2005 remake. The 1979 potboiler thriller has become a narrative inspiring an entire unlikely film series. The first two continuations were released theatrically including the obligatory 3-D installment (see The Amityville Horror Collection). Then there was a fourth chapter with Patty Duke that debuted on television. Next came a theatrical dud called The Amityville Curse (as of this writing the only one not on DVD). Finally three direct-to-video sequels were produced.
Amityville Collection gathers together the three Amityville sequels made for video release in the '90s. The trio of films is united by a common theme; all three deal with artifacts from America's most famous haunted house inflicting a curse on other locations besides Long Island. The evil has escaped, and by evil I mean the corporate greed of studios who realize horror fans will rent almost anything with a familiar name. These were Blockbuster rentals back in the day when the chain was the best place to find crappy video horror.
Facts of the Case
Most of these films were inspired from a novel written by John G. Jones called Amityville: The Evil Escapes. The idea behind that book was that the household items in the haunted house retained some of the spiritual miasma the infamous Long Island residence was claimed to have. This despite the Lutz family claims the evil followed them when they moved out, and the fact most of their story was easily debunked by everyone involved, including them. I guess it's more fun to believe evil never dies than discredit one of America's most famous hauntings. Besides, there are crappy horror films to be made! They all follow an all-too-predictable pattern: someone gets a household item from the Amityville house, they take it home, and soon crazy stuff and bloody mayhem happens.
First came Amityville: It's About Time a straight-to-video sequel made in 1992. Architect Jacob Sterling (Stephen Macht) returns home from a business trip with an antique clock for the mantle. The only trouble is the clock comes from the Amityville Horror house, and it's run by demons. Its influence begins to reshape his family's personalities. Jacob becomes violently obsessive-compulsive, his son becomes a police suspect for poisoning neighborhood dogs, and his daughter (Megan Ward) decides to dress and act a bit more provocatively than normal. The only one left to fight the evil time piece is Jake's lover Andrea (Shawn Weatherly, Baywatch). But has time run out?
Apparently the series was successful enough for someone to green light a second video sequel called Amityville: A New Generation from 1993. This time the haunted house scenario is moved into an artist colony, and the curse comes from a mirror from the Amityville Horror house. It's given to one of the residents (Ross Partridge, Prom Night (2008)) by a homeless man. David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London), Richard Roundtree (Shaft), and Terry O'Quinn (Lost) all have supporting parts among the unfamiliar actors who play the leads. Everything unfolds as you'd expect—the mirror shows people spooky visions, they freak out, and soon the spooky vision comes true as they die a hideous death.
For the last entry from ten years ago, we have Amityville Dollhouse. It revolves around a demonic residence for Barbie and Ken that looks exactly like the Amityville Horror house. How could it possibly be evil? Guess where it comes from. Poor little Jessica (Rachel Duncan, What Women Want) receives the satanic play set from her dad (Robin Thomas, Damages). The father finds the dollhouse in an old shed out back of his new house, and even though it is filled with creepy voodoo dolls it seems like the perfect present for a birthday. Did I mention it was on top of a creepy newspaper clipping about a father killing his family in a fire?
Amityville: It's About Time is bad, but it does have some twisted scares, thanks to the demonic clock. The overt sex, pain, and torture themes found in the film make it almost more related to Hellraiser. It isn't linked to the original Amityville Horror by anything other than the time piece and gratuitous use of the house image in flashes, drawings, and models. There's also plenty of black goo, and somehow they found a house that has signature metaphorical "eyes" even though it's more modern. The father's latest housing project also ties in the film by geography—if you can guess where he's designing new houses. Out of the three, this one is the most gruesome with plenty of gore and some rather cool kills. That being said, it's still not very good. The unspectacular transfer presented on the disc is full-screen, and it looks very video in quality. There are artifacts and even signature video distortion visible right from the opening credits. The sound has plenty of distortion too, often sounding tinny and unclear at points. You'll almost proclaim, "Who put a VHS tape into my DVD player?"
Amityville: A New Generation from 1993 is even more ridiculous because it revolves around an evil mirror showing people scary reflections. There's really nothing unexpected in the film other than the presence of three pretty hefty names looking for a quick paycheck. The story is very weak, and you'll see everything coming from a mile away. The Amityville connection comes from a character who is supposedly the son of someone who lived there once. That's why he gets the mirror, and why the mayhem breaks out. It's pretty slow-moving, and not super-scary. This one has the best-looking cast, and there is some nice nudity now and then. The full-screen transfer looks like it's in better shape than the previous entry, but it still has a video quality that makes the picture soft and not clear enough.
The third entry is about a blended family moving into a new house only to find it possessed. Well, it's not truly possessed but the titular Amityville Dollhouse takes over. It's the closest in plot structure to the original film, but there's nothing nearly as creepy. At least the dollhouse looks appropriately spooky, and we do get daddy zombie, oversized mice, and hairy spiders. The original house never had those. Amityville Dollhouse gets the best transfer, and it looks almost worthy of DVD even though it's still full-screen with a simple stereo mix.
Amityville Collection places three discs into one standard-size DVD case, and it appears these are no different than when all of them were released initially. There are no extras on any of the discs, and each one comes only with the feature and scene selections. It's either a way to save money or space on your shelf. Anyone who bought the originals has no need to double dip.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
These movies are craptacular direct-to-video sequels for a horror series that never should have extended beyond its first chapter, but somehow they're kind of fun in a sadistic way. Laughable effects, a really dumb conceit that a haunted house possesses everything in it, and bad acting all explode from the screen. Grab some friends, your favorite libation, and hoot and holler your way through this set. Bad movie fans will find this a triple dose of delight.
Three pointless formulaic sequels given crap transfers with no extras are all gathered into one standard DVD case. Amityville Collection is sure to scare you in many ways. It's scary anybody would keep making these Amityville films, it's scary there are this many of them, and it's scary these movies are available on DVD many times over. Yet if you're seeking some groan-worthy bad movies to sit through, it's an affordable collection of what happens when you buy items from a haunted house yard sale. Amityville Collection delivers groans and scares all in one package thanks to evil clocks, "dancing" demons, and a malicious dollhouse.
Anyone who sits through this collection will be sentenced to watch three not-so-scary haunted house movies.
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Scales of Justice, Amityville: It's About Time
Perp Profile, Amityville: It's About Time
Distinguishing Marks, Amityville: It's About Time
Scales of Justice, Amityville: A New Generation
Perp Profile, Amityville: A New Generation
Distinguishing Marks, Amityville: A New Generation
Scales of Justice, Amityville: Dollhouse
Perp Profile, Amityville: Dollhouse
Distinguishing Marks, Amityville: Dollhouse
• IMDb for Amityville: It's About Time
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