Ed Wood, you have an heir apparent, and his name is Richard Fleischer. Now, let’s be fair: Mr. Fleischer has had a 50-year career as a director in Hollywood, and was always known as a professional guy. A man who churned out such hits as FANTASTIC VOYAGE, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, and TORA! TORA! TORA! But much of his legacy was wiped out when he agreed to take on the third sequel to the AMITYVILLE HORROR series. Oh dear Lord is this movie just absolutely awful. But, being the site we are, I am still totally recommending it. AMITYVILLE 3-D is an easy 90 minutes of unintentional belly-laughs. The best in bad horror movies indeed.
1983 was an ignominious year for 3-D films. Not only did this piece of drech get released, but it was also the year of JAWS 3-D. In an interesting twist of fate, JAWS 3-D starred Dennis Quaid, while AMITYVILLE 3-D features a supporting performance by Meg Ryan. The two were destined to get together at one point in the future. Perhaps the common ground they found for their marriage was being part of two films that put the nail in the coffin of theatrical 3-D releases. Honestly, has there ever been a wide-release 3-D feature film that was good? Not that I know of.
Back to the “plot.” Our story begins with the famous house in the Long Island New York suburb of Amityville (yes, the town really exists – as does the house). A séance is being held, and the medium claims to have made contact with the child of the couple participating. Indeed, at one point the spirit manifests itself as a blob of light floating in the air. Shock, surprise, it’s a fake. The couple are investigative reporters who are trying to debunk the myth of the haunted house, and they catch these scamsters trying to pull one over on them.
Well, reporter John Baxter (Tony Roberts) apparently feels he hasn’t gone far enough in ridding the superstitions surrounding the house, so he and his family move in. Smart move, hot shot. Soon enough, the strangeness starts to happen. Whether it’s bees swarming in the attic, or a room that blasts out cold air at such a high velocity that keeping the door open too long can freeze you to death. Hey, with the high costs of heating oil these days…
Of course, despite enough evidence to the contrary, including actual deaths that occur under his roof, Mr. Baxter insists on staying. He can’t let superstition get the better of him! Nor common sense apparently. Throw in wife Tess Harper, cute daughter Lori Loughlin (of FULL HOUSE fame) and her young friend Meg Ryan, and you’ve got a potpourri of pseudo-celebs ready for a haunting. Meg Ryan steals the show by wondering aloud about the possibility of human-ghost sex. I don’t know about that Meg, but I do know that being in three romantic comedies in every year of the 1990s will eventually type-cast you.
Things just get better when a fluorescent green blob manifests itself throughout the house – a special effect that makes the slime-guy from GHOSTBUSTERS look like CGI worthy of Peter Jackson. Does Mr. Baxter leave – why no! He brings in Dr. Eliot West (Robert Joy) to investigate – and to pay close attention to that pit of fuming water in the basement. Could there be a connection?!
Oh man, AMITYVILLE 3-D is just downright disastrous. From the over-the-top opening credits (clearly meant to pop out in 3-D) to the head-crashing musical score, this thing is beyond a stinker. And when the hell-demon appears from the pit of water near the very end, if you don’t burst out laughing, then you haven’t got a shred of a sense of humor in you. This thing is prime cheese, and yet I couldn’t resist enjoying myself. So bad it’s good, AMITYVILLE 3-D is a fun hour and a half in front of the TV.
RATING: *** (out of four)