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DIRECTOR RICHARD FLEISCHER ATTEMPTS 'AMITYVILLE 3D'

A glimpse into the brilliant three dimensions in Amityville 3D Year: 1983
It was the best of times; it was the worst of 3D. Coincidental that three franchises in the early 1980's hit their third franchise film wherein the D attached to the 3 like some kind of shield, or perhaps a "suck blocker" indicating, "If it's 3D then it's gotta be good." Well, no... Not usually back then...

Case in point, the first Third Film in The Third Dimension worth noting was JAWS 3D, a campy masterpiece of banality wherein the grownup kids of Roy Scheider's Chief Brody work at a Sea World type locale where a shark gets in past an underwater gate, and without a ticket. Then there's the third FRIDAY THE 13TH where the Effect is actually pretty good, that is, better than JAWS 3D since bloody machetes — as opposed to random sporadic decorations — pop out at the audience (this is Cult Film Freak's favorite F13TH film). And the most bizarre example is directed by our all-time favorite director, Richard Fleischer: Not only is AMITYVILLE 3D no FANTASTIC VOYAGE or SOYLENT GREEN, it's not even RED SONYA...

Lori Loughlin maybe isn't what she seems
Although, surprisingly enough, it is entertaining at times, especially the opening sequence where grieving marrieds Tony Roberts and Candy Clark seek the voice of their deceased son through a clairvoyant couple renting the titular house and — the twist (which occurs during the prologue so it's not really a spoiler) is that they're not married but workmates for a magazine disproving not only ghosts but the shams who con vulnerable families...

This is followed by an overweight, neurotic real estate agent (familiar looking/always working character-actor John Harkins), interesting for more reasons than being an obvious first victim. He sells the house to Roberts, who wants to write his Great American Novel, and, being in the business of disbelief, he can care less about the house's ghoulish reputation. Meanwhile, Candy Clark's intrepid yet equally superstitious photographer, Melanie — far more important than a very whiny Tess Harper as Tony's separated wife — fills the "investigator" shoes, veering outside the box, an idea that works and doesn't: While we do stray from the usual claustrophobic haunted house template, if elevators and cars are equally cursed, why does the legendary manor mean anything?

Regular Score: **1/2 Camp Value: ***1/2
Like AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION, which is arguably superior than the famous Rod Steiger "Get Ouuuut!" original, involves a young, innocent and downright gorgeous daughter, Diane Franklin, born to be in peril. Herein, another lovely and vulnerable daddy's girl, played by future sitcom starlet Lori Loughlin, is the only character that the parents and the audience seem meant to really care about...

Scenes with playful (and at that point, non-famous) friend Meg Ryan, along with two vapid teenage boys, actually work because finally, we're inside. There's an underlying element of suspense, but the 3D aspect is overused to a hilarious level. Practically every object, from a boom mic to a bright red frisbee, makes its utterly contrived way towards the camera so many times there's not enough room for the horror to stretch beyond dated special effects and especially those banal flies buzzing up a ludicrous storm! But, like flies on crap, there's a bigger, campier and more ridiculous beast downstairs, which is supposed to be the end-all, tie-in culprit of all the films, lurking inside a well in the basement that harbors the Gate of Hell. Like any horror flick that runs out of creative gas by the second or third act, it's up to an actual creature/monstrosity to push the vehicle into fifth gear — but this remains mostly in neutral. When ATLANTIC CITY actor Robert Joy, as a good ghost hunter (what Beatrice Straight was in POLTERGEIST), wrestles with the animated wraith, the camp value rises tremendously. And for fans of classic movies, it's nearly impossible to believe that the director, around seventy-years old and having worked nonstop since the 1940's, would stoop so low. But without his guidance, who knows — it might have been so bad there'd be nothing to discuss at all. The fact is, A3D is a painfully worthwhile guilty pleasure that, at times, actually flows.
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