Director – Richard Fleischer
Cast – Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Robert Joy, Candy Clark, John Beal, Leora Dana, John Harkins, Lori Loughlin, Meg Ryan, Neill Barry
Release Year – 1983
Reviewed by John of the Dead
While the Amityville series has remained one of horror’s most well-known film series of films, it has come with quite a few stinkers, and this is one of them. I loved the previous installment, Amityville II: The Possession, which I believe is superior to the original Amityville Horror, and because of that I will admit that I had some high hopes for this film. Sadly, what seemed like a cool story overall made for a less-than-favorable bore-of-a-watch in the end.
Amityville 3-D follows Tony Roberts as John Baxter, a reporter working for a pseudo-sleazy magazine which debunks paranormal phenomena. After busting a sham involving the Amityville house, John moves into the home in an attempt to find quiet and solitude so that he may work on writing a novel. However, soon after moving in the home strange occurrences plague John’s peace and quiet, and the more he tells himself there is a logical explanation for everything, the more danger he faces.
I liked the idea of a writer moving into a potentially haunted house, mainly because I enjoy both writing and haunted houses. So naturally, this film had my attention from the get-go, and sadly my attention was seeking pleasure elsewhere after the first act of the film. While the overall story was one I was interested in we really do not get many useful nor interesting elements thrown into the film throughout its 105 minute runtime. The scare and creep levels in this film are extremely low, and the most we get are scenes with flies attacking people, hot water vapor seeking from pipes, and just one good kill involving someone being burned alive. We get no useful scenes regarding the characters in this film, including our lead protagonist John Baxter. Usually we get a few characters that help to move the film in a positive direction, but sadly that is not the case with this film and the most conflict we get regarding the characters is a bitter divorce battle between John and his ex wife, which even then was nothing worth filming. To make matters worse, we get no good conflict regarding the Amityville house, with the most we get being a little used demon residing in the basement. This obviously sounds cool, but it is never truly taken advantage of, another disappointing element of the story.
Direction-wise we get a decent job from 20000 Leagues Under The Sea director Richard Fleischer. His camerawork and sets were positive, although I was not really a fan of the lighting he used in the film. Being a veteran director of “old time” cinema, it was obvious he settled for the lighting used in the older black and white films and unfortunately it does not work for this one. Had this been a black and white haunted house film such as the 1960 The Haunting, Fleischer’s lighting could have worked fine, but for a color “3-D” film it just does not work well for this one. While the scares in this film were minimal, we did get some good execution during a few of the scares, namely the “burned alive” scare and the “demon kill” at the end of the film. It is hard to blame Mr. Fleischer for how uninteresting this film is given how weak the screenplay was written, but better execution with this film’s visuals and weaker scares could have helped this film a bit.
Overall, this is a weak watch and a poor and uninteresting entry into the Amityville series. Not recommended.