review for Amityville 3-D on AllMovie

Amityville 3-D (1983)
by Jeremy Wheeler review

Where do you go after the jaw-dropping nutso sequel Amityville II: The Possession? Well, if you're Orion Pictures in 1983, you take the series to a whole new three-dimensional level with Amityville 3-D. Using the same technology as the same year's Jaws 3-D (do you sense a trend here?), this third entry was basically a second-rate Poltergeist emblazoned with a theater gimmick that just happened to be in the middle of a resurgence at this time. The story involves nothing new, except for the opening, which features some dime-store psychics running a bogus séance scam in the dreaded Long Island house. The rest of the film follows a boring broken family that is slowly driven insane inside and outside of the house before the ghost cops are called in to investigate. In fact, the Amityville Manor develops even stranger long-distance powers in the flick, from bewitching killer elevators in business buildings all the way to gruesome, fiery car crashes, the house becomes its own sort of slasher character here. While the ghosts looked like devil pigs in the first one and Exorcist-style possessed teen clones in the second, this sucker introduces goofy rubber demons and floating ghost apparitions that look strangely like neon wool sweaters in a washing machine. The cast is fairly worthless, save for an appearance by a young and quite charming Meg Ryan in only her second big-screen role. Directed by Hollywood veteran Richard Fleischer (Tora! Tora! Tora!, Soylent Green, and of course, Red Sonja just two years later), the look of the film is actually quite classic, though much out of step with the in-your-face quality that the 3-D demanded. The flick is also diminished by the disappearance of Lalo Schifrin's eerie score, a staple of the previous entries and a classic horror theme in its own right. Once again, the house blows up at the end, which in a perfect world, would have ended each film in the never-ending series. Check out the aforementioned car-crash and the dreadful fly animation at the end for the best and worst usage of the 3-D effect.