When the original The Amityville Horror was a hit during its theatrical run in the seventies it was only logical that a sequel would soon follow - and it did. Again and again. And again. Sometimes you've got to wonder why a franchise hasn't been put out to pasture, and that is very definitely the case with the three films in The Amityville Collection, each one a straight to video disasterpiece.
Based on the novel Amityville: The Evil Escapes, the premise for this batch of sequels is that not only was the original home from the first film haunted, so were many of the furnishings and items that were found inside. As these items made their way from one home to another, the haunting spread with them giving the producers pretty much an open slate as far as making cheap, goofy sequels was concerned. All they had to do when they needed a sequel was come up with a household item, pawn it off on some unsuspecting family, and unleash whatever ghastly set pieces they could think of and voila! Instant sequel! The possibilities for crap were endless and this trilogy proves that Republic Pictures knew it.
Amityville - It's About Time (1992):
Jacob Sterling (Stephen Macht of General Hospital) is a well to do architect that travels a lot for business. While away in Amityville, Sterling picks up an antique clock for his home, which, upon his return, he places on the mantle over the fireplace. Of course, this being a clock that once lived in the Amityville house, there's something not quite right about it - there are demons inside and it was created by a French necromancer!
As the clock ticks away, it starts to spread an evil influence around the home beginning with Jacob himself who begins to act in increasingly bizarre and angry fashion. Next to fall prey to the clock demons (ha!) is his son, who the cops bring home one night after busting him for poisoning some of the local dogs while Jacob's teenage daughter starts dressing like a hooker and vamping it up. The only one who doesn't seem to be affected by the clock is Jacob's love interest, Andrea (Sean Weatherby) but... get ready for it... TIME IS RUNNING OUT!
A dark film with an unexpected sexual twist to much of the violence and bloodshed, Amityville - It's About Time is the best of the three films in the set thanks to some marginally unnerving set pieces and a few legitimately surprising moments. That said, while it's better than the other two films, it's still not a very good movie. It has very little to do with the continuity of the first few films in the series and if you took out the flashback scenes that attempt to link it to the other movies, it wouldn't be an Amityville Horror film at all. Some decidedly nasty gore set pieces make it an okay trash movie and there are a few neat ideas with the way that the clock affects those in the home that are swatted around the movie but it's not enough to really save it. The acting is bad, the storyline predictable, and the premise slightly goofy. Interestingly enough, this was directed by Tony Randel, the same man who directed Hellbound: Hellraiser II a few years prior in 1988.
Amityville - The New Generation (1993):
Keyes Terry (Ross Partridge) is a photographer who lives in a communal loft with a bunch of other artists. One day a strange homeless man who Keyes photographs gives him an antique mirror which he takes back to the colony where the people who come into contact with it start to see strange, horrible things. At first it seems like these are just nightmares but when the visions start proving to be prophetic, it soon becomes obvious that there are evil spirits at work.
Terry O'Quinn of Lost and The Stepfather films pops up in this one alongside David Naughton of An American Werewolf In London and surprisingly enough John Shaft himself, Richard Roundtree - but the novelty bit part casting doesn't stop the film from stinking and it's obvious that these cult movie stars are really just phoning it in here. The mirror premise isn't a new one, it's been seen in countless other horror movies and the filmmaker's do little with it here to differentiate it from what's come before. The script makes an interesting connection to one of the original Amityville characters which at least attempts to tie this story into the continuity established with the theatrical films but it's a weak attempt and it doesn't help much. The end result is a predictable film with no real scares and only a few minor moments of gore, an interesting and slightly creepy flashback scene, and unnecessary but very welcome nudity help to spice things up.
Amityville - Dollhouse (1996):
A little girl named Jessica (Rachel Duncan) wants a dollhouse, just like billions of other girls did when they were young. Her father (Robin Thomas) obliges her and finds a neat old dollhouse (it was just hanging out in the shed behind his house for some reason) that, you guessed it, looks exactly like a miniature version of the instantly recognizable Amityville house from the original film. He takes it home for her despite the fact that inside the dollhouse are a bunch of strange looking dolls and that underneath the house in the shed was newspaper article about a man who slaughtered his entire family. Great parenting skills there, genius.
At any rate, once the dollhouse is brought into the home, it's more or less a repeat of what's come before - the evil that lives within the dollhouse starts to take over the home and its residents (that's probably why the previous owners left it in the shed!). Strange things start happening and the residents run into problems with giant killer mice, giant killer spiders, and a zombie.
Steve White, who went on to become a successful television producer handles directorial duties on this film but that doesn't mean it's any better than the other two films in the set. This is a noticeably tamer film in terms of sex, violence or effects than the other two (leading one to wonder if White had a smaller budget to work with) and as such it's a pretty restrained picture. There's very little here to provide much in the way of scares, shocks or suspense and the cast seem to be phoning it. Again, the plot is predictable though the killer mice and the zombie are a nice touch.
All three films in this collection are presented in their original 1.33.1 fullframe aspect ratio. That said, not one of the three films in this collection looks particularly good. The first film, It's About Time is very soft and doesn't really look any better than a worn VHS tape. The second film, The New Generation is an improvement over the first but not a drastic one and it's still soft and lacking in fine detail. The third and more recent film, Dollhouse is, not surprisingly, the best looking of the bunch but again this is a below average transfer with very little detail and some minor compression artifacts present in the darker scenes.
English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks are provided for each one of the movies in the set, with optional English closed captioning available across the board. While there aren't any problems with hiss or distortion and, for the most part, the films are quite clean and clear sounding there isn't much in the way of channel separation and there are moments where things are a bit on the flat side. That said, it's never a problem following the dialogue and the scores and sound effects used throughout the movies are all properly balanced throughout.
Aside from some basic, static menus and the requisite scene selection option, there are no extra features whatsoever to be found on any of the three DVDs in this collection.
While none of the films in this set are actually any good, they are at least reasonably entertaining in their awfulness. If you appreciate films in a 'so bad they're good' kind of way then you'll likely enjoy the unintentional humor that this trio of turkeys can provide. The transfers are rather bland, the audio far from exceptional and the discs completely devoid of extra features earning The Amityville Collection a 'rent it' rating for those into bad horror movies, and a 'skip it' rating for the rest of us.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.