Don’t Watch These, Part 3: The (Mostly) Amityville Edition

It’s difficult to be a genre fan, particularly one who resists easy generic distinctions. I mean, is it horror, or supernatural thriller, or is it by M. Night Shyamalan? These things aren’t really mutually exclusive, though they sometimes appear that way. But at the same time, you watch something billed as horror, and damn if it ain’t disappointing when it’s not only not scary but just plain damned stupid.

I really wanted to do full reviews for the whole Amityville series. But then I didn’t want to do that anymore. Know why? Because the filmmakers didn’t want to make movies anymore. They wanted to stuff crap into a film canister and slap a brand name on it in the hopes that I’d pay money to watch it (joke’s on them).

I still suffered through these, because it’s become a point of honor, but no way am I spending any more time with them than necessary.

The Amityville Curse is the fifth installment and I don’t even know where to begin. Released in 1990, just a year after the previous ridiculous attempt at Amitytude, this one is even more of a blatant, cynical attempt to cash in on the Amityville legacy. I admit, there’s a good chance I was playing with Legos throughout the whole movie (read: I was 100% playing with Legos through the whole movie), but I paid enough attention to know that I shouldn’t have bothered paying that much attention. The plot has nothing to do with the other Amityville films, despite being set in the same town. Because, you know, if the town has one evil demon murder house, why not two? Some asshole cityfolk buy the place, one of whom I’m pretty sure is Nathan Lane’s evil half-brother, and they live there while they try to renovate it. And spooky stuff happens, except it really doesn’t. One woman is psychic or something, and the other is supposed to be sexy, and the guys all have voices like preadolescent boys. I don’t know what happens here. It’s just too boring, too disjointed, and too damned smarmy. It’s a series of half-assed inside jokes between the characters, which they of course have to explain to the audience because we don’t know their long and boring history, and they all deserved to be demon-slaughtered anyway. I wanted the Nathan Lane guy to die almost from the beginning, just to cleanse the air of his awful smugness.

You know what’s great? When someone does a stupid, stupid thing, and everyone hates it, and so somebody else comes along and does the same damn thing, only with some very slight differences so ohmygod, you guys, it’s like a totally different thing!!! That’s what the sixth Amityville movie is, only even dumber than that may have implied. Amityville: It’s About Time takes the haunted furniture motif that you may remember from two Amityvilles ago, and ups the ante by not upping the damned ante. Which, you know, must have been a risky thing for a studio to do, only nobody cares. This time it’s a clock, rather than a lamp, which gets hauled off by an architect whose firm has demolished the old Amityville house to make way for a new development. He brings it back to his house in California or wherever, and you’ll never believe it guys but weird shit starts happening. Only this time it’s some ridiculous conceit about a clock possessed by the soul of a French sadist or something. Also because the evil thing is a clock, there’s some time-warp nonsense. The worst kind of premise, equal parts stupid and insulting, this one at least has some fun early ’90s nostalgia–but exactly nothing else.

I almost feel like I’m the butt of a bad joke, one that was designed and executed over twenty years ago, aimed specifically at me, but whose pathetic punchline wasn’t delivered until Amityville: A New Generation‘s final credits rolled, which for me was on a cold night in February of 2014 that could have been better spent sleeping or crocheting or thinking about 19th-century US textile production methods. Because those bastards did it again. This time it’s a goddamned mirror that has the evil whatever in it, and if I could have any X-Men-style mutant power it would be the ability to punch every person responsible right in the ear. There’s a photographer named Keyes, because it was the ’90s or something, and he meets a homeless guy who randomly gives him this big stupid mirror with demon faces carved on it, and OF COURSE he puts it in his house because if a homeless guy gives you something covered with demons, it’s only polite. You Philistine. So anyway, turns out the homeless guy may or may not have been one of the Amityville murderers (another guy who killed his family with a shotgun, this time called Bronner, in the infamous, and apparently still intact, house). Who even knows anymore. To be fair, I liked this the best of the three evil-object films (and I hope to hell that Amityville Dollhouse doesn’t continue the trend…but with a title like that…). That’s not saying much, though. And the whole thing with the house itself appearing in the mirror like an evil face was pretty cheesy. Thank god I have all these Legos to play with.

Hey lookit, it’s not an Amityville movie. Dark Touch seemed promising, because it’s a horror movie and it’s Irish, and those are both things I love. But they can’t all be The Eclipse or Isolation. This is definitely not either. It’s more of a mash-up of Carrie and Kuchisake-Onna, with the former’s abused psycho telekinetic girl (albeit a child here, rather than a high schooler) and the latter’s constant and uncomfortable foregrounding of child abuse. With the gaggle of scary supernatural kid movies that have been released lately, you’d think filmmakers would try something new, but Dark Touch is here to prove you wrong. It’s heavy-handed in its anti-abuse message (they might as well have titled it Where Did the Bad Man Put his Hand?/The Bastard Got What He Deserved When He Was Psychically Murdered), and wastes a lot of opportunities for scares, instead working to create an atmosphere of generalized ickiness that is ultimately not at all enjoyable. Regardless of genre, films should explore uncomfortable topics, but I can’t help but feel they should do so in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you wasted an hour and a half.

6 thoughts on “Don’t Watch These, Part 3: The (Mostly) Amityville Edition

  1. Wow. I had no idea there was this many Amityville movies.

    The problem with demonic furniture is best summed up in the words of one of our contributors:

    A monster isn’t scary when you can defeat it by leaving it in a skip.

    He was talking about Pinhead Statue in Hellraiser 3, but it’s equally true of lamps, clocks and mirrors.

  2. In my late teens I used to have an occasional habit of overdosing on anticholinergic drugs to induce hallucinogenic delirium. I once watched Amityville Curse on television while completely sober and thought to myself that I could watch it in that delirious state and it would make about as much sense and some time later, I (having the wonderful life I do) got the chance to try such a horrific experiment by happenstance… I was right and so are you. The phrase “I don’t know what happens here” says it all perfectly. I know this is an old post but for some reason this movie popped into my head and I Googled it and laughed my ass off at your site.

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