Amityville 3-D (1983)

The poster for this movie says: “WARNING: In this movie, you are the victim.” It’s factually correct, because if you were planning on being entertained, you’re out of luck. You’d be better off throwing $5 at the register and running out of your used video store than buying this DVD.

But really, Sam, why not tell us about the film first…

John Baxter (Tony Roberts, Annie HallPopcorn) is all about exposing psychic con artists, like James Randi with a white man afro. Along with his partner Melanie (Candy Clark, ex-wife of Marjoe Gortner and as well as acting in Cool as Ice, Q, 1988’s remake of The Blob and providing the voice of Stella Star in Starcrash) he busts up a special effects-aided seance at 112 Ocean Avenue (dum dum dum in Amityville!). The lady running the show spits right in his face and then, he decides to but the place after his real estate agent talks him into it. But guess what? Flies attack and kill that agent, turning him into a rotting corpse.

He buys the house anyway.

All manner of accidents befall John and Melanie. The worst one? Well, I guess that’d be when Melanie gets killed in a car wreck after seeing a demon’s face in a photograph and rushing to show John. But that dude just thinks it’s all a coincidence. Oh, John.

What would make things worse? What if John’s daughter Susan (Full House’s Lori Laughlin), her friend Lisa (Meg Ryan!) and their boyfriends play Ouija in the attic.? The game tells them that Captain Howdy just got a promotion to Admiral. Just kidding. The game informs Susan that her life is in danger, but she ignores it and dies in a boat accident. Her mom, Nancy, sees a vision of her walking up the stairs of the dock, but nope. She’s a goner.

John still thinks this is all make believe, even when his ex-wife thinks her daughter is still alive and he keeps having dreams about the old well in the basement. So he brings in Doctor Elliot West (Robert Joy, Desperately Seeking Susan) and his team, who succeed in getting the demons in the house to show up. Elliot asks for whatever in the well to reveal itself and bring Susan back to life, but in one of the few bright spots in the film, a demon leaps out — right at the viewer — and burns the doctors face and drags him to Hell. The house implodes and only a few of the team, Nancy and John escape. The well keeps glowing as we hit the credits.

Due to a lawsuit between the Lutz family (the original owners of the Amityville house) and Dino De Laurentiis, this is film does not refer to them at all and had to be listed as not a sequel to the original film. That said — the DeFeo family who lived in the house before the Lutz’s are referenced more than once. But hey — weren’t they called the Montelli family in Amityville II: The Possession? At least John is based on someone real —  Stephen Kaplan, who was investigating the film at the time of filming as he was sure that the Lutzes’ story was a hoax.
Look, you may enjoy this film. But after the complete and utter insanity that is the second film in the series, it feels like a step backward. But where can you really go after part 2? It’s a film that throws you down the steps and laughs at you.

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