My History With the Film:
I caught Amityville Horror on one of the cable movie channels sometime in the mid-to-late 90’s. I was up late and saw the word Amityville and was impressed with what I saw. It was one of those creepy, low budget 90’s films that had just enough going on to keep me interested. I only watched it a couple of times, but it always resonated with me and when I started this blog it was one of the 90’s flicks I was excited to revisit.
I went looking for a copy on DVD or blu-ray but it was out of print. I bought a VHS copy with intentions of reviewing it on VHS but before I got around to watching Vinegar Syndrome remastered the film and released it streaming on Amazon Prime. So, I watched the best available version and I’ll admit it wasn’t the best movie ever, but I enjoyed the nostalgic trip.
What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A young girl is gifted a dollhouse that is haunted.
What I Liked About It:
-This film bares almost no relation to the prior Amityville films. The little Amityville references seemed a bit tacked on and I’m guessing this a way to get more exposure for the film. I’m okay with that, because there is only so many stories you can tell in one house and the franchise had already begun moving away from the base story.
-Amityville Dollhouse has this strange vibe to it that I love. It feels very isolated due to the majority of the film taking place in just one location. I know a lot of horror movies utilize a single filming location, but there is something about this “new house” and the strange plot of land that just seem out of place, almost as if they are in a different dimension. That strange isolation is what really draws me to this film.
-The practical effects are pretty good and the end scene is quite impressive considering this was a direct to VHS sequel. There is also a great scene with a wasp in a barn.
-Who doesn’t love creepy dollhouses?
-Someone decided to show off with a very well shot 360 degree breakfast scene. It’s not something you’d expect in a horror film and especially not a horror film like this.
What I Didn’t Like About It:
-The cast varies in quality from the pretty good Starr Andreeff (Claire) to the horrendous Franc Ross (Tobias). It’s interesting that Fran Ross is so terrible in this film because he went on to do some great work in Firefly, Deadwood, and Breaking Bad.
-The script drags and the family never really feels in turmoil till the very end.
-Cinematographer Thomas L Callaway sat under the table and stuck a periscope lens through the top of it to capture the impressive 360 degree rotating shot of the family eating breakfast.
-The word Amityville is never mention.
-The film went over it’s one million dollar budget and the director forfeited his director’s fee.
-The demons were made of mix-matching pieces from previous costumes, props, and makeup and that S.O.T.A FX had created for earlier projects.
-This is Steve White’s only directing credit. He is primarily a producer and handed off most of the technical work to the cinematographer.
Amityville Dollhouse is a low budget 90’s horror film and nothing more. The cast is average at best and the script could have used some work. Despite all this, Amityville Dollhouse has a special charm to it. Maybe it’s nostalgia talking, but I had a good time with this weird blended family and their spoiled brat kids, but it’s definitely not for everybody.
I rate Amityville Dollhouse a two out of five and say skip it unless you love cheesy 90’s horror.