Amityville: The Evil Escapes Review
I'm probably not the best person to review this disc - my knowledge of the horror genre is confined mainly to the “must see” titles that we all know about so when I received this to review I was quite pleased to be doing Amityville. I remembered watching the original Amityville Horror one Friday night tucked up in my bed, at an age when I probably shouldn't have been watching and it had the desired effect on me, resting in my memory as one of my favourite horror films. As I plonked in this DVD I thought, I wonder how they're going to re-tell one of my favourite stories in 2005 - will Ryan “Van Wilder” Reynolds be able to pull off this role? As the static 4:3 menu spun up, I thought...hmmm... this doesn't seem like the sort of treatment I'd expect for a glossy big-budget 2005 movie... I pressed play...then the penny dropped. This is a new release of an older Amityville movie, presumably timed for Halloween and to coincide with the newer movies launch. So what is this one I asked? Well it is about as far removed from the new version or indeed the original as one can get. This is the fourth instalment in the Amityville series and is actually a TV movie from 1989. A quick visit to IMDB revealed a rating of 3.3/10 and quotes like “worst movie of all time!”. Not a promising start, but I like to make my own judgements so I settled down to watch, hoping that perhaps all 246 voters were wrong....
Alas, 95 minutes later there was more a feeling of laughter than fear. This movie doesn't really have anything to do with the previous three, other than the “evil” that was present in the original house has now decided to take up residence in a lamp. Yes, that's right, a lamp. I've seen all sorts of objects being used as conduits for evil before in horror films - dolls, cars, animals, but lamps? Well, putting that to one side for a minute, this satanic lamp gets bought as a quirky gift at a garage sale for Alice Leacock (Jane Wyatt) by her sister. The lamp gets sent to her California home (hence the “evil escapes” title) and once plugged into the mains starts to wreak havoc by taking over various electrical household devices. There is also the ubiquitous young girl who has a friend that no one else can see (this time being her dead father). The “tension” builds as the evil lamp takes more victims until finally with the help of a young priest, they try to exorcise the evil from the lamp once and for all.
I was surprised to discover that this instalment was actually written by the author of the original Amityville Horror story and that this was produced by Barry Bernadi who had previously worked on films such as The Fog and the Halloween & Poltergeist series. As ever, I'm coming at this purely as a mainstream, impartial viewer rather than someone who particularly enjoys horror movies, however there is no getting away from the fact that this is a watered down third sequel and is made-for-TV with really bad acting, an implausible plot and a central evil character that is supposed to scare you by glowing when it's emanating evil? I know I sound hard to please but I defy any but the most ardent horror fan to find this either scary or entertaining. This franchise has been milked to death, even after The Evil Escapes and I have counted nine related movies - but there are probably more. I'd rather watch Police Academy 4 than this - and that IS evil.