Amityville 3D (1983)

Director: Richard Fleischer

Starring: Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Meg Ryan

LISA – “I hear you bought yourself a haunted house, John.”
JOHN – “I just bought the house, not the ghost.”

(Note – This review is based on the Sanctuary Region 2, 3D version of the film (pictured on the right), so any references to the 3D effects may not necessarily apply to the version you watch. The film is also available in a 2D version, which inevitably affects how entertaining the film is. That said, on with the review.)

Put quite simply, had Amityville 3D not been in 3D it would be quite the stinker. As it is however, it’s actually quite entertaining to watch and some of the scenes of sheer tedium (including the frankly overly-repetitive discussions on whether or not the house is evil) aren’t quite as boring due to the distraction of the 3D effect.

Don't really remember there being monsters in the first one

3D aside, this third instalment in the Amityville series is a pretty run-of-the-mill, scare-free ghost story which makes little or no sense and never really makes you care for the actors. Indeed, most of the film will be taken up by you either saying how good or bad the last 3D bit was or, if you’re watching the 2D version, guessing which bits would have been in 3D (answer: all of them).

The plot isn’t too different from that of the original film. A couple of fake psychics are kicked out of the old Amityville house by John Baxter (a paranormal scam investigator) for trying to trick people into thinking they can contact their dead relatives. This leaves the house empty for Baxter to buy it and move in. Naturally, strange goings-on then begin to happen to everyone around Baxter (including his ex-wife and daughter), but he’s not having any of it and he’s determined to move in. Cue numerous people entering the house on their own and meeting grisly deaths.

Got a pair of 3D glasses? Give the image a click and try it out

There are, quite simply, no scares to be had whatsoever in Amityville 3D. Some of you watching in 3D may jump ever so slightly the first time a fly comes towards you, but after that it’s pretty ineffective.

There aren’t too many deaths here either, yet what’s there is reasonably inventive. “Death By Flies” is quite good if a little confusing (how can flies kill you?) and “Death By Accidentally Setting Your Car On Fire” is pleasing to watch, but the real star is easily “Death By Getting Pulled Into A Hole In The Floor Of The Basement By A Random Monster”.

Look! It's a young Meg Ryan in one of her first acting gigs

The 3D technique used here is the classic “red and blue glasses” effort. Of course, this means it’s not true 3D and instead the actors still look 2D, albeit on different 3D planes. It looks a bit like there are cardboard cut-outs walking about in a pop-up book. It’s still pretty cool looking, though the closer things get to you the poorer the effect becomes. Its ironic that the most effective examples of the 3D effect are scenes where very little is happening other than dialogue.

If you can get a hold of the 3D version of Amityville 3D, it’s highly recommended if only for the cheesy fun you get watching it with the full 3D effect. However, if all you can get is the 2D version, do not under any circumstances expect anything approaching a decent film. The characters are flat and dull, the scares are almost non-existent and the effects are poor at best. In 3D though, it’s enough of a distraction to prove enjoyable.

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