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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.33%
Worth A Look: 8.33%
Just Average58.33%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 25%

1 review, 6 user ratings

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Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes
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by Jack Sommersby

"It's a Killer Lamp, I Swear!"
3 stars

One of those modest unexpected delights you happen across when least expected.

I hold out little in the way of hope of convincing anyone that the TV-movie Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes offers up a worthwhile time, but such is surprisingly the case. Superior to the inept original, not as scary as the second, more lively than the third, its success rests in the decent script and technical prowess of those involved who've put quite a bit of effort and know-how into the proceedings. The story begins at the infamous haunted house in Amity, Long Island, where six priests think they've finally exorcised the demonic spirit from it; little do they know, however, that the spirit has "transmigrated" itself into an ugly David Lynchian standing lamp that looks like a humanoid tree with a crystal-ball-like top that turns very bright when naughty. Purchased as a curio item at a yard sale, the buyer cuts her finger on it before sending it to elderly sister Jane Wyatt's ocean-front California estate, and the wound manifests horribly. Enter widow Patty Duke and her three children who've come to live with her mother due to financial hardship. As soon as the lamp is plugged in, it scares the tarnation out of a parrot and cat, and once placed in the attic transfixes the younger of the kids with the appealing persona of her dead father. Strange noises are heard, dark-sewage water pours out of the faucets, the garbage disposal and chainsaw turn on by themselves, and, yes, poor 'ol Polly turns up burnt-dead inside the toaster oven. Finally, one of the six priests goes to California to warn the family after the sister dies, which leads to a not-bad final confrontation. Granted, the lamp isn't exactly the most frightening thing in the world (though no less silly than William Friedkin's sacrificial tree in The Guardian and John Carpenter's Satan-personified green Jello-like substance in Prince of Darkness), but the director, Sandor Stern, who also did the screenplay, miraculously manages to generate and sustain tension from start to finish, with well-shaped scenes and narrative drive conjuring up a you-are-there vitality that releases some genuine primal terror -- it's as if he really believed in the material and wasn't the least bit ashamed of pouring all his talent into it. Stern has something of a real movie sense for effective camera placement and movement, atmosphere, and credible character actions; there's neither a bad shot anywhere to be found nor a character doing something truly stupid just so the story can progress. I can't say he brings an actual visual interpretation to the material, which might have kicked up the unnerving factor a couple of notches, but balancing this out are Skip Schoolnik's razor-sharp editing, which cannily cuts away a second sooner than expected to something unexpected, and Rick Conrad's lively, creepy score, which feels so in-sync with the characters' heightened apprehensions that it's practically a character in itself. And terrifically topping things off are the game performances by both award-winning actresses, Wyatt and Duke. In fact, it's a real kick seeing the young male priest deterred by a low-fright tolerance while the two much-older females demonstrate guts and assertiveness in battling the fiendish foe. If there's anything they don't succeed in conquering in the end it's the teenage son's horrendous hairdo -- an all-time terrible mullet that would give even Beelzebub a run in the ultimate-horror department.

Won't win a Hugo or anything like that, but it can definitely hold its own against several of its ilk.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4335&reviewer=327
originally posted: 06/26/09 08:43:47
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User Comments

2/09/14 Fat Cat Woeful 1 stars
6/06/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Would be terrible if it wasn't so funny 3 stars
5/09/06 IOKelsey WONDERFUL 5 stars
3/22/04 Trannon Goble A mess 1 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Made for TV crap 1 stars
10/27/00 Luna The Evil Lamp AND Patty Duke! This is one of the funnier Amityville sequels. 4 stars
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  12-May-1989 (R)



Directed by
  Sandor Stern

Written by
  Sandor Stern

  Patty Duke
  Jane Wyatt
  Fredric Lehne
  Brandy Gold
  Zoe Trilling
  Lou Hancock

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