Amityville 3-D (1983) Movie Review
Written By: Angela DiLella
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Richard Fleischer
Producers: Stephen F. Kesten
Writers: David Ambrose
Date Released: November 18, 1983
Tony Roberts as John Baxter
Tess Harper as Nancy Baxter
Candy Clark as Melanie
Lori Loughlin as Susan Baxter
Meg Ryan as Lisa
Rating = 2.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
John Baxter (Tony Roberts), a skeptic who makes a living exposing false mediums, decides to snatch the infamous Amityville property, unimpressed by rumors of hauntings, but very impressed by its extremely low and alluring price.
Other than a convincing model of a burnt corpse, there’s really no gore to speak of.
The Grave Review
At this point, and even at the point that Amityville 3-D was being teased, the story of the haunted house was well known. This story could not address events in the prior films due to lawsuits with the Lutz family, whose supposed experiences the first movie is based on, but it’s basically the same deal: a new family moves into the cursed house and whatever forces reside in the house raise hell. This newish story is somewhat more interesting than the Lutz tale, as we have a more or less clean slate to work with, with more interesting characters than the Lutzes that have different drives and are affected in different ways by the forces in the house, though it does have the occasional throwback to the tropes of the earlier movies and even other horror hits from around the time. It’s a fairly engaging and enjoyable movie for what it is, though the climax throws any mood-building and story from the previous hour and a half or so right out the window.
Surprisingly, most of the cast gives pretty solid performances. Amityville 3-D has Meg Ryan and Lori Loughlin giving the viewers great performances early in their careers as teenagers who are affected by the evil forces in the Amityville house in different ways. Candy Clark, who plays Melanie, John Baxter’s partner at work, plays an intelligent woman who is just as savvy about haunted houses and demons as the average horror movie fan, and I became fond of her rather quickly. She does have a scene where she becomes frightened by something in the house and edges into overacting, but for the most part, she steals the show as an intelligent secondary character that I missed terribly when she was phased out. The only actor for a major character I wasn’t sold on was Tony Roberts, who plays a flat, unemotional man who stands in almost comical contrast to the women around him who may be more emotional but are also much smarter and more vibrant. It was genuinely hard to tell if he was just that good at playing that character type or if he was just not a great actor.
I’ve watched other Amityville Horror movies both for my personal pleasure and for Grave Reviews (*link to 2005 review), as well as read the book, and I went into this movie preparing to dislike this film as well, if not be downright miserable during the watching. However, I found myself going along with it and rather enjoying it, at least until the movie’s climax, which is more than a little ridiculous. Although the movie had to move away from the supposed true accounts of the Lutzes, it seemed to benefit from this shift and was allowed to grow into its own take on the haunted house tale. There are callbacks to the earlier movies with things like swarms of flies and the mysterious well in the basement, and homages to other classic horror movies here and there that are handled well. The movie is by no means perfect—lame and shoehorned in 3D effects are distracting, there are many cheesy effects in general, and the climactic moment where the evil force in the house is revealed are major weaknesses—but I was pleasantly surprised by it. I can’t say it’s the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, or even the scariest movie in the various Amityville film series, but I was entertained the whole way through. I can’t say that I’d pick up my own copy, but I’d watch this one again if I caught it while flipping channels.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Amityville 3-D (1983) two and a half graves out of five graves.
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