Amityville 3-D (1983, aka Amityville 3: The Demon)


The infamous Long Island house is now occupied by a group of phony clairvoyants, who make their living doing faux séances. Once they are exposed, the house is quickly put on the market, and it is bought by the reporter (Tony Roberts, Annie Hall) who unmasked the scammers. The journalist is convinced there is no such thing as a haunted-house, but it doesn’t take long before he realizes that the house is indeed haunted.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“Get out! Everybody, get out of the house!”

Okay, you don’t have to say it, I know this is an unpopular opinion: I really liked Amityville 3-D (aka Amityville 3: The Demon). It’s in fact my favorite film of the series. In spite of some big flaws like a totally inappropriate ending and cheesy 3-D effects, Amityville 3-D is interesting, believable and goodly entertaining.

Amityville 3-D doesn’t feel like a mere rehash of the previous films, either — the old chestnut gets a new coat of varnish. I particularly enjoyed the way British writer David Ambrose (The Survivor) has fun with well-known horror film clichés. Ambrose also seems to be laughing at the whole Amityville legend and people who believe in it, which is probably why rabid horror fans tend to react negatively to the movie.

Director Richard Fleischer’s (The Boston Strangler) work is simple and efficient. He falters a bit during the film’s climax, but Fleischer keeps the film grounded in reality as much as possible, and that helps a great deal. Sections of the movie play like a straight drama, and unlike most that have seen the movie, I found that attitude to be a big plus — I appreciated a slow-burn narrative that concentrated on character development.

Amityville 3-D also features the best ensemble cast in the franchise. Character actor Tony Roberts is very good in the leading role. The always wonderful Tess Harper (Tender Mercies) plays Roberts’s wife. Candy Clark (American Graffiti) is excellent as Roberts’s co-worker. Lori Loughlin (TV’s Full House) plays Roberts and Harper’s daughter. Pre-stardom, Meg Ryan (Top Gun) appears in a small role as Loughlin’s friend.

Lalo Schifrin’s chilling score is sorely missed, but composer Howard Blake’s (The Duellists and The Lords of Discipline) new score is an acceptable substitute. The shots intended for 3-D are not too distracting (I did wish the original 3-D was available). The FX-laden finale doesn’t really fit with the rest of the movie, though.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Truth be told, I’ve never encountered a moviegoer who thinks highly of the movie. Well, I think Amityville 3-D is a well-crafted haunted-house film. The actors are very good, especially Candy Clark and Tess Harper, and there are some interesting discussions about paranormal activity. Even without the 3-D glasses, the third chapter is fun – it’s, in my opinion, the best of the sequels. Color, 93 minutes, Rated PG.

Followed by Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989)


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