We’ve seen a lot of franchise horror flicks here at Missile Test. We’ve seen horror franchises go from good to bad, as they are wont to do. We’ve seen creativity turn to shameless cash-grabbery, but we’ve never seen a horror franchise treated as poorly by its stewards as the Amityville franchise. Perhaps that’s because it has been through so many different hands. From George Lutz, to Samuel Z. Arkoff, to Dino De Laurentiis, to NBC, Image Organization and Vidmark, Amityville has always been in the hands of people who were just looking to make a quick buck. No thought has ever been given to continuity, and ongoing disputes with Lutz meant the word ‘Horror’ has only been in the original film’s title, and its 2005 remake. With this fifth movie the producers decided to go direct-to-video, acknowledging that there isn’t much else to offer viewers other than crap.
From our neighbors in the Great White North comes The Amityville Curse, the first film in the series to not feature the infamous Amityville house, even in cameo.
Filmed in Montreal, this film is based on yet another novel from Hans Holzer, who made his living churning out books about the supernatural. Directed by Tom Berry, a career producer, from a screenplay by Michael Krueger and Norvell Rose, Curse is notable only because one its stars is Kim Coates, in an early role. He has since gone on to have an excellent career as a character actor, to the point calling him a That Guy feels kind of cheap. Back in 1990, however, he was still consigned to a dogshit horror flick like this.
Although the film was shot in Montreal, it still takes place in Amityville, in a completely different home than the other films. This old house, as shown in an intro, used to be a rectory. But, the priest who lived there was murdered in the church confessional. Bizarrely, the confessional was then removed from the church and stored in the house’s basement.
Cut to over a decade later, and the house is bought by Marvin (David Stein) and his friends, including Frank (Coates), as a fix-and-flip. Marvin invites them all to the house for a weekend of wine and rehabbing, not knowing that there is a nasty spirit about. If a viewer has ever seen a ghost flick before, they know what’s coming.
What fails this film is not the idea, but the execution. It’s a lifeless flick, bereft of any care on the part of the filmmakers. It’s Amityville in name only. Cutting a couple of establishing shots and changing a line here and there would remove the word ‘Amityville’ from the film completely, and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference to the story. Have I mentioned that it’s lifeless? And dull, and boring, and monotonous, and whatever other synonym one can find in Roget’s.
The five principal members of the cast are as exciting as khaki slacks and a cardigan, with even Coates showing no inkling of his future success. Indeed, the only interesting performance of the five was from Stein, who was trying out an Orson Welles impression all movie long. In fact, his performance is the only thing about this flick that qualifies as shitty. The rest is just bad, and barely watchable.
It amazes me that more than a dozen films, with more on the way, have been added to the Amityville series since this awful film was made. A film of this poor quality should have been the death knell, but, no.
Alas, for this poor reviewer, five is more than enough. Unless a true giant of filmmaking, or James Wan, attaches themselves to a new Amityville project, I am out. This is the last Amityville film I will be watching.
For general sins against the art of film, The Amityville Curse falls way down the Watchability Index, landing with a muddy splash at #333, displacing Alien Rising. Stay Away.