I have developed a weakness for the Amityville sequels in the years since I started this site, and I’m happy to report that the TV movie entry in the series is better than it has any right to be, being both an NBC movie and the fourth in a series. In fact, so far it’s my third favorite in the Amityville universe, after parts 2 and 3. It’s a super fun movie for me to see the first time, and plays out more like a PG haunted house theatrical film than a made for TV movie. Also, I bet this movie scared the pants off of some elementary school aged kids back in ‘89. They are, along with women my age, the primary audience for TV horror movies, after all!
Our story begins with a shot of the iconic Amityville house at night, bluish tinted film and yellow windows making the side of the house look like an evil face. Then we cut to the “For Sale” sign. I realized when I saw that sign that think I’ve solved this whole Amityville mystery, and I’m not even psychic. See, whatever realtor keeps selling this damned house over and over is going in there before each new family moves in and playing with a Ouija board, in order to keep the house turning over and those commissions coming in. As you will shortly see, I learned a lot from Amityville: The Evil Escapes. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Next, a whole team of priests enters the house and starts exorcising. An ugly painting falls off the wall, and a handsome priest gets zapped by a weird lamp. I actually wouldn’t mind owning this lamp, even though the characters in the film think it’s horrid even before they know it’s evil; it looks like a round human head standing on a humanoid body made of a gnarled tree. But you already know if you’ve ever read this blog before that I have bad taste. So anyway, the hot priest ends up in the hospital, surprisingly neither dead nor possessed, and the tree person lamp gets sold at a yard sale to a lady who likes to buy ugly furniture and mail it to her stuck up sister. I felt bad for her when the lamp bit her and gave her fatal tetanus, because I really enjoy going to yard sales and making fun of ugly furniture. I don’t have a sister, though, so I’m safe.
The lamp arrives at the sister’s home in California, which is a clever way of moving the Amityville curse to a new location. And it just so happens that the stuck up sister is also a grandma, playing the mom to a recent widow played by Patty Duke, queen of TV movies. Patty has just arrived with her three bratty kids to start life anew after her husband’s death (a husband her mother still wishes Patty hadn’t dropped out of college to marry), and gets there just behind the evil lamp. The creepy youngest daughter thinks her dad is still alive, a delusion helped along by the evil lamp. Can the fine priest help these people? Will the household pets live through this film? What will happen when you combine old mother-daughter struggles with an oddly dressed teenage daughter, a possessed chainsaw, a ditzy maid, and a son who is, dare I say, vertically challenged?
I’m not going to tell you who lives and who dies, but I will tell you I learned a few things from Amityville: The Evil Escapes. First of all, you would think a cat’s reaction to evil furniture would be reliable, but you must remember that cats hate anything new. Secondly, if the devil calls you on your landline, for God’s sake let the machine get it! And speaking of the devil, remember that if you leave your keys in the ignition, ol’ Scratch WILL steal your sweet panel van. And for the last time, if you are living in a haunted house, keep your damn hands out of the garbage disposal!!!