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Richard Fleischer
Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Robert Joy, Candy Clark, John Beal, Leora Dana, John Harkins, Lori Loughlin, Meg Ryan
Writing Credits:
David Ambrose, William Wales

Inside these walls, nothing is impossible ... except survival.

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?

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$6.333 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Monaural

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $39.95 (Single Disc Edition: $14.95)
Release Date: 4/5/2005

Available as Part of “The Amityville Horror Collection” Boxed Set.

• Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Amityville 3-D (The Amityville Horror Collection) (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 1, 2005)

Boy, was I glad to see the short-lived 3-D revival of the early Eighties die! Filmmakers loved to make the third flicks in various series into 3-D offerings, which meant Jaws 3 and Friday the 13th Part 3 both went along that path.

Although few liked them, at least those two maintain some notoriety. On the other hand, 1983’s Amityville 3-D goes almost totally forgotten. The third entry in a weak series, 3-D starts with a séance, as Melanie (Candy Clark) seeks to establish contact with her dead son Ricky. Or maybe not - it turns out the “distraught mother” and her associate John Baxter (Tony Roberts) faked all this to expose the charlatans who use the spooky old Amityville house as their base.

Confronted with a steal of a deal, John decides to buy the house. This occurs in the midst of his divorce to Nancy (Tess Harper), as he wants to uproot and change his life. He promises a room for teen daughter Susan (Lori Loughlin).

The house is up to its old tricks, however. When real estate agent Clifford Sanders (John Harkins) comes to meet with John, he gets attacked by the place’s usual glut of flies and dies. This doesn’t really seem to mean much to John, and he also remains unconcerned when Melanie shows him some bizarre photos.

Despite John’s staunch refusal to believe in “superstition”, the house has other ideas. Melanie gets stuck in it when doors won’t open, and John encounters a runaway elevator in an office building. Other problems confront Melanie, and she flees the house despite John’s arguments that there’s nothing wrong.

She’s not the only one with concerns about the edifice. Nancy thinks there’re problems there, and she hates the idea that Susan will return there. John won’t hear of it, though, so he and Nancy butt heads even after more tragedies occur. The rest of the movie follows all the spooky events that seem to connect to the house.

Unfortunately, the DVD of Amityville 3-D fails to present the movie in that manner. We get a firmly two-dimensional version of the flick. As with Friday the 13th Part 3, this robs the movie of any even slight possibility at entertainment. At least the cheap 3-D gags can provoke minor enjoyment.

Instead, here we’re stuck with the cheesy “I’m poking a stick at the camera” movement so often found in 3-D movies with none of the visual impact. This opens with the credits as the letters move toward us, and it continues with insects that fly out of the screen and poles that shoot at us. Stripped of the dimensionality, they look especially cheesy.

Man, the filmmakers couldn’t have meant anyone to take this sucker seriously, could they? From the opening séance sequence to fly attacks to runaway elevators, there’s not a single moment in 3-D that doesn’t quickly turn laughable. Granted, some of it’s played for camp - like the séance - but I think we’re supposed to be more scared than amused.

That doesn’t happen, and this leaves only one notable aspect of 3-D: its cast. With Roberts, Harper, Clark and Loughlin, we get a lot of semi-notables on display, and that list omits an actress cast in a small supporting role as Susan’s friend. None other than Meg Ryan pops up in that part. It’s a grand tradition for actors to cut their teeth with roles in bad horror movies, so it’s fun to see Ryan in this brief turn.

Too bad there’s nothing else about 3-D that makes it memorable. I didn’t like the original movie, but at least it boasted a good story at its core. No, the flick did nothing good with it, but it could have been something interesting. The first sequel also enjoyed an intriguing tale at its core, even if it displayed similarly squandered potential.

No such lost opportunities occur with 3-D. It uses the Amityville background as nothing more than the setting for a standard haunted house nonsense. That’s one of the worst parts about 3-D: it’s so damned generic. Yeah, it involves the original house, and it sure makes a lot of use of the flies that popped up in prior efforts.

Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot to make this feel like an Amityville story. 3-D never creates its own identity, and it also fails to deliver anything that would seem competent. Eventually, it turns into a rip-off of Poltergeist. It boasts a surprisingly strong roster of actors, but they all look pretty embarrassed to be there. I can’t blame them - Amityville 3-D is a simply atrocious attempt at a horror movie.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio C-/ Bonus D-

Amityville 3-D appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed edition was examined for this review. 3-D offered an erratic picture that went from very good to pretty mediocre in rapid succession.

Sharpness came across as spotty but mostly positive. Some shots looked a bit soft and ill-defined, but these stayed in the minority. The film usually seemed nicely delineated and concise. I suspect that some of the softness stemmed from the 3-D processes, as the blurriness mostly occurred near the edges of wider shots.

I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement remained minimal. Print flaws were almost non-existent. Mild grain cropped up, but otherwise I saw only a couple of specks. This was a surprisingly clean transfer.

Colors varied. The tones occasionally appeared moderately drab and dull, but the majority of the movie presented reasonably vivid hues. The outdoors shots looked best, as these presented nicely distinctive colors. Blacks were generally solid, though they could be somewhat inky, while shadows tended to come across as nicely defined. The image of 3-D almost fell to “B-” levels, but I felt it was too good too much of the time to drop below a “B”.

Though the remix of the first flick worked well, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Amityville 3-D was flawed. Don’t expect much from the soundfield. Mostly it demonstrated a “broad mono” sensibility. The score showed passable stereo delineation, though the music never really differentiated all that well within the various channels.

That topped the mix’s use of effects, however, which never seemed to feature any definite localization. The audio broadened in a general way at times to cover the entire spectrum, but that usage lacked definition and never became involving. For the most part, the elements appeared either welded to the center or generally spread around the room in a non-specific way. Some bleeding of speech also occurred.

Audio quality was problematic, especially in regard to speech. The lines often sounded brittle and reedy, and they rarely came across as very natural. Instead, dialogue tended to be distant, though the lines remained intelligible. Effects seemed similarly gritty and slightly shrill, as they failed to demonstrate much depth or dimensionality. The score fared best. Although the music lacked much power, it was acceptably full and smooth. A distracting layer of hiss was apparent throughout the movie. The audio wasn’t quite bad enough to fall below a “C-“, but it wasn’t a good mix.

When we look at extras, the DVD includes only the movie’s trailer.

Amityville 3-D didn’t kill the franchise, but it did nothing to further it either. The movie offers only a tangential connection with the original and does little more than rehash the same old hoary scary movie clichés. The DVD presents erratic but decent picture along with flawed audio and no meaningful extras. This is a mediocre DVD for a bad film.

Note that you can find this DVD of Amityville 3-D on its own or as part of a boxed set called “The Amityville Horror Collection”. This package also includes a special edition of The Amityville Horror, Amityville II: The Possession, and a bonus disc titled Amityville Confidential. The three films can be purchased individually, but and Amityville Confidential is exclusive to that release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 6
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