Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1988)

Directed by:
Sandor Stern

An army of priests invade the legendary Long Island haunted home armed with crucifixes and holy water, determined to drive the demonic forces out once and for all. Thinking they're successful, the home goes on the market and all of the furniture is put out on the lawn for a yard sale. A strange looking brass lamp standing about six feet tall catches the eye of Helen (Peggy McCay), who decides to purchase it for her widowed sister Alice (played by classic film actress Jane Wyatt). Helen cuts her finger on the lamp before shipping it out to Alice's coastal California home, comes down with a deadly tenanus infection and dies in the hospital soon after. Meanwhile, the lamp arrives at Alice's just as her newly widowed middle-aged daughter Nancy (TV movie queen Patty Duke) shows up trying to put her life back together. Nancy's husband has recently passed away and now she's stuck with no money, no education and three kids to support; teen daughter Amanda ("Geri Betzler"/Zoe Trilling, of NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2 fame), middle son Brian (Aron Eisenberg) and withdrawn 11-year-old daughter Jessica (Brandy Gold). Granny's a little on the cold, unfeeling side and is having a hard time dealing with all the commotion in the house, but she'll soon realize dealing with the return of her daughter and grandkids is a walk in the park compared to dealing with demons who love to possession appliances and electrical devices to do their dirty work. Meanwhile, back in Amityville, hunky Father Kibbler (Fredric Lehne), who was knocked out the night of the exorcism right after seeing a demon face in the globe of the lamp and has just been released from the hospital, searches for the whereabouts of the cursed light. Can he get out to California in time to save the family?

So what will you find in this PG-13 rated sequel? A pet bird in a toaster oven. A hand burnt by a hot kettle. A hand down a garbage disposal. Someone brushing their teeth with overflowed sewage. Black slime. An out of control chainsaw. A melting telephone. A levitating little girl. A dead plumber. Possession of the youngest daughter, who is wooed over to the dark side by visions of her dead dad. Some mild home destruction. And a whole lotta family drama. The acting is alright. The dialogue is alright. The production values are alright. The direction is alright. It was made for television and has a definite TV movie of the week feel, though. Some may be bored with what they see. It's mighty derivative, unoriginal and nothing special at all, but it'll still pass the time adequately. I actually thought it was mildly better than most of the other films in this series.

Additional violent scenes that were removed from showings on the boob tube have been restored for the home video release. Part 4 is also notable as the first AMITYVILLE entry to take place primarily away from the actual home. The idea of a cursed piece of furniture carrying the Amityville evil along with it to a new setting (called "transmigration" here, but I've also heard it called "transference" elsewhere) is the plot devise that showed up in most of the sequels from here on out.



spookyx3 said...

you've got this one just about dead on. i saw the original AMITYVILLE and was bored by it enough not to bother with any of the others. after a while i took a chance on one of the later DTV sequels, IT'S ABOUT TIME (1992). almost twenty years later i still recall _that_ as being a silly good time. working back up to another viewing, i looked at EVIL ESCAPES this week, encouraged by sandor stern's involvement (and right around the time of PIN, too). verdict? it's perfectly OK. all we're doing is waiting for the characters to catch up to what we already know and somehow that managed not to annoy me.

i really should wait until i've seen it again, remembering nothing more than my own vaguely positive take away, but check out IT'S ABOUT TIME (1992); can't be any worse than some of the movies in this series.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I recently re-watched the original, which has to be THE most overrated "classic" horror film ever. Can't believe something so bad is as famous as it is, but I guess we have the best-selling book to thank for that. Part 2 starts out good and provides some surprisingly good scares but completely falls apart in the third act. #3 and #4 I found average but watchable. And the rest I'll have to rewatch sometime. I remember thinking It's About Time was OK and Dollhouse sucked but it's been many, many years since I've seen either.

spookyx3 said...

don't think the original gets much respect anymore, which is fine by me.

i did AMITY #4 through #7 in the last two weeks: IT'S ABOUT TIME played better in memory, but was slick and fairly competently made. this go around, it amused me to note the standard-issue sarcastic teen was derisive and cynical about _every little thing_, yet utterly accepted the notion of supernaturality from the outset without a peep. CURSE was a cheerless slog, and NEW GENERATION did little to stand out from the pack (might be the only time i've ever seen david naughton outside of AMERICAN WEREWOLF and NOT FOR PUBLICATION). both could probably have been standalone titles with minimal editing. i might double back and see the others... sometime. thankfully, DOLLHOUSE, at 1996, came along a little too late for me.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I've never seen The Amityville Curse but I think I read it wasn't made as an Amityville movie at all but the title was changed for the video release to cash in, similar to the fake The Curse series. I could be wrong on that. Either way, I think it's rated the lowest of all the movies in the series on IMDb so at least that's something! :)

I think I've seen A New Generation but can't remember a thing about it.

Anonymous said...

> I think it's rated the lowest of all the movies in the series on IMDb so at least that's something! :)

i can't imagine anybody ever watching AMITYVILLE CURSE more than once. it's kinda weird that i find great comfort in repetition re the old-dark-house movies of the thirties & forties -- love 'em! -- while later examples will almost always have me at least initially grumbling about the tired premise and worn out formula.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I too am typically a bigger fan of the older (pre-1970s) haunted house / ghost films. For me, a lot of that has to do with the art direction, lack of special effects, subtlety and (maybe most of all) the black-and-white photography, which just suits those films so well.

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