See, the thing is, The Amityville Horror had about one thing going for it: It was “based on a true story” during a glorious time when we still believed in Bigfoot and the Bermuda Triangle and Nessie and so forth. So it racked up a whopping $86M at the box office, finishing only behind—I’m not making this up—Kramer vs. Kramer, the #1 film of 1979 and the only film of the year to be a “blockbuster” (at the time defined as “a movie that breaks $100M at the box office”). It would beat out the first Star Trek movie, Rocky II, The Jerk, Apocalypse Now, and many other films that fit into that category broadly defined as “good”.
The 1982 sequel dropped precipitously—about on a par with the Exorcist sequel—and then an attempt at 3D made it clear that there was no cash left to milk from this poor cow. But as we all know: Evil Never Dies and nothing is more evil than someone who owns a horror franchise, and five years after the 3D attempt, Barry Bernardi (who up till then had been mostly co-producing John Carpenter films) found himself really enjoying a book (I guess, this already sounds preposterous) called Amityville: The Evil Escapes. He sent it to Sandor Stern, who had written the first Amityville script asking him to write it and direct it, and Sandor said “Sure, but this book sucks, let me do my own thing.”
So it wouldn’t be until Amityville: The Next Generation until the book called Amityville: The Evil Escapes would actually be film.
Sandor’s “own thing” turns out to be an evil lamp sent to Oceanside, CA—a lovely place for a haunting—where it kills assorted people in Jane Wyatt’s life. Jane has just taken in her daughter Patty Duke and her three kids. On the other hand, who cares? This is a silly movie with some good actors who just aren’t going to overcome the silliness, through no fault of their own.
Of course, Kevin, Bill and Mike cracking wise doesn’t help. I mean, for taking it seriously. Good riffs here, and another gimcrack song from Kevin, a little Beach Boys-y number called “2000 Miles From Amityville”.
The initial short is also pretty great: It’s a work safety film that is obsessed with tomatoes-as-fruit and ends with our lecturer playing toreador with a forklift.
Hope we get to see more of these boys in the future.