Is It Worth It? Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes

This is part of my Horrorathon for Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings (aka MASK)Is It Worth It? is where I talk about sequels a lot of people skip, and determine if they are worth a visit or better left in the bargain bin. Fair warning, there will be spoilers in my recap, so if you just want the verdict skip to the bottom.

Amityville Horror: The Evil Escapes (1989)
Something tells me this was influenced by the Poltergeist movies…
They never even meet the priest depicted in this picture.

From IMDb: The demonic forces in the haunted Long Island house escape through a mystical lamp which finds its way to a remote California mansion where the evil manipulates a little girl by manifesting itself in the form of her dead father.

After Amityville 3-D bombed, this sequel was made for TV after the series went in hibernation for six years.

Continuing in the tradition of the first two films, this movie is loosely based on a book (also titled Amityville: The Evil Escapes), that features the Lutz family’s haunted possessions being sold off to unsuspecting buyers.

This film has some real star power behind it with Academy Award winner Patty Duke and Emmy Award winner Jane Wyatt playing main characters Nancy and Alice respectively. The director/writer Sandor Stern also wrote the screenplay for the original Amityville Horror.

How long will it be before the characters come to the logical conclusion to destroy the haunted lamp? Let’s find out.

Recap:

Once again, we begin with an establishing exterior shot of the infamous house with windows that looked like eyes (again this is a real detail that cannot be copyrighted!). There is a new “For Sale” sign in the yard. Understandably, a new company has taken over the property.

A bunch of priests hop out a car [insert joke here], and the flies are already buzzing and the chandelier is already shaking. The demon is big mad this many religious figures are waltzing in to try and exorcise it once again.

The Mad Libs: Haunted House Edition routine starts again – doors slam on their own, the stove starts, chairs move, and the walls bleed.

It’s a light flow day due to this being a made for TV movie

It’s all the typical antics we come to know and expect, including the weird looking haunted lamp…wait what?

This movie introduces this haunted lamp in a way that implies we are supposed to recognize it, or at least think it looks super spooky. Instead, it just looks like a giant version of a trinket the Dollar Tree would sell for Halloween. The haunted lamp knocks out a young priest with its psychic powers, and a rivalry is formed.

The next scene depicts a garage sale of all the property the previous owners left behind. The head priest is SURE the evil has left the house this time thanks to the group exorcism. Okay father.

Two lovely middle-aged friends are browsing the knick knacks. Helen sees the haunted lamp, and decides to buy it as a joke for her sister.

I hope to be rich enough one day to buy my family & friends $100 gifts as jokes.

Helen cuts her finger on the haunted lamp (probably insulted that she called it ugly), and later the finger seems to be pretty infected.

Meanwhile in California, Helen’s sister Alice is wondering what the hell Helen has sent her now. But Alice has even more unexpected new additions to her huge California estate. Her adult child Nancy is recently widowed and has to move back in with Alice to make ends meet, along with her three children Amanda, Brian, and Jessica.

From left to right: Nancy, Jessica, Grandma/Alice, Brian, and Amanda

Old tensions brew quickly between Alice and Nancy because Alice is a sassy old lady. Alice decides to throw shade on everything from her grandson’s haircut to Nancy’s dead husband because he didn’t provide enough to support his family following his untimely death. Damn Alice! Sassy old women with wit to spare and nothing to lose are what this movie series has been missing ever since Sister Helena peaced out in the first film.

We are “treated” to a minute long sequence where the lamp lights up by itself while Alice’s bird and cat look upset. This is when I truly realized this movie was really about a haunted lamp. This was really happening.

The next day Brian parades downstairs and asks Alice “what’s for breakfast?” like he owns the damn place. Alice fakes like she is going to make him something till Nancy says she will do it. Meanwhile, Alice’s maid Peggy starts cleaning and discovers the bird is missing. Unfortunately, the haunted lamp got the bird in the toaster oven and treated it like a Quiznos sub.

quizno's sub commercial 2 - YouTube

Nancy drops Amanda and Brian off at school, and Brian tells his mom he just wishes things would come back as if he hasn’t read “The Monkey’s Paw” or seen anything by Stephen King.

Back in Long Island, the young priest who battled the haunted lamp wakes up and wants to know where that evil lamp is. He is upset and wants to go round two. I’d be mad too if a haunted lamp beat me up. He visits Helen and she tells him where the haunted lamp is before dying of tetanus. Even the doctors seem baffled by this seemingly random PSA for not getting tetanus.

Back in California, Brian is looking for the cat who has hidden in the basement because she saw this family toaster oven a bird to death and isn’t looking to die. Brian is an annoying middle school boy, so naturally he decides to goof off with a chainsaw he finds. And if you want to see everything great about this movie AND get a real sense for the budget and tone, I promise this video is worth your time:

*Stefon voice* this video has EVERYTHING

I know we are meant to believe this is supernatural, but my headcanon is Brian is just an idiot. Peggy luckily stops him (hopefully getting hazard pay in the process), and Alice is understandably pissed. Brian insists it wasn’t his fault (it was), and Alice fires back “a mistake is human but to lie is the devil’s work.” Alice is an icon at this point.

Later, Amanda puts on her Hugh Hefner robe to tell her mom that she needs to confront Alice for yelling at dumb Brian for his chainsaw antics.

The next day the local repairman’s son (Danny) stops by, and helps move the haunted lamp into the attic. The rest of the inanimate objects in the attic are SHOOK like they are on a reality show and a shocking secret has been revealed.

Shooketh

After he moves the lamp, Danny and Amanda flirt a bit while he tries to help her with a stuck garbage disposal. This scene starts like it belongs in a porn parody, but this haunted lamp might as well be a long-lost Voorhees because it is not having any hints of future premarital sex:

THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL RIPS HIS HAND OFF!

The haunted lamp calls the young priest to taunt him tell him to stay away. The lamp also ensures the phones do not work so the priest can’t warn Alice & crew of the danger they are in. Brian receives a telegram the priest sends, which he promptly loses because he is Brian.

The family experiences plumbing issues (something that is present in every Amityville movie so far), and so they hire Made-Strictly-for-TV John Krasinski to investigate.

While wedged in a crawl space, a pipe bursts over the plumber’s face and not only does Danny’s STILL PERFECTLY PRESERVED hand hit him in the face but so does a bunch of toxic sludge that APPARENTLY KILLS HIM?!?!?!?!

Talk to the hand: extreme hauntings edition

The demon gets away with it because it manages to drive his van away just as Peggy looks outside – making her assume he left.

Did the demon take driver’s ed?

The demon went to some pointless trouble driving the van away for Peggy’s benefit, because it manages to strangle her with its cord when she goes up to the attic to look for Jessica.

The young priest arrives at the house, but he gets so nauseous he can’t enter the house. He leaves his information for Nancy.

Meanwhile, Nancy sees how messed up Jessica’s room is, and assumes an eleven year old girl could not do this:

As someone who was an eleven year old girl once, we could have definitely caused this much damage.

Nancy goes to talk to the priest, and he convinces her he must do an exorcism on the lamp. She has learned the art of shade from her mother, and asks how he is going to succeed when he couldn’t even beat the lamp with a whole posse of priests. And he assures her he will succeed this time because he has something he didn’t have last time…holy water! Which…why would holy water not have been a part of the last exorcism?

Amanda is supposed to be watching Jessica but manages to get knocked out by getting her head tapped with a windowsill. Jessica runs to her bae the haunted lamp because it has convinced Jessica that it is the spirit of her dead father.

Nancy, Alice, and the priest confront the haunted lamp once and for all. This final confrontation can be summarized in three gifs:

They are really trying to give it their all in this moment. Grandma looks like she pulled a Karen, got told off, and is now acting like the injured party.
Scrumptious editing on this priest TKO
Finally Grandma does what we are all thinking!

I love that this movie does what every horror movie should do with a haunted object – they just throw it out the window. Beautiful.

With the haunted lamp defeated once and for all, the family breathes a sigh of relief. But then they call for Pepper the cat only to realize she has ran off somewhere and…oh no!

sandor stern | Tumblr
This is really the last shot of this film

Random Observations:

  • The cover of this film is some pretty sneaky false advertising…implying it takes place in the Amityville house and there’s an evil priest
  • The first two Amityville movies really reinforce the demon’s hatred/fear of Catholic priests, but this movie is fascinating because it sets up the young priest as a triumphant hero only for him to immediately be dispatched by an eleven year old. Grandma Alice is the true hero for throwing the lamp out a window
  • There is something incredibly cathartic about watching someone just toss the haunted object out a window as the ultimate way of defeating it. Usually movies with this premise give you some reason why the person is unsuccessful using this method, but it just hand delivers what we are all thinking every time there is a haunted mirror or doll or whatever
  • Although this was released in 1989, it definitely has a 90s feel and aesthetic
  • I watched the movie with captions, and multiple times a caption would alert us that seagulls were supposed to be squawking in the background. Why is it reminding us in this interior scene in the middle of the movie that there are seagulls?

Verdict:

I would wholeheartedly say this is worth your time if you want to laugh at something. It is like a time capsule for what you could and could not get away with in a made for TV film and budget. It is a prime example of an awesomely bad movie, and more what I was expecting with these later Amityville sequels. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn this was meant to be camp (camp…lamp…is there a connection here?!), but it comes across as just earnest enough to be a perfect movie to make fun of with friends over a few adult beverages. Patty Duke and Jane Wyatt add a lot with their performances, but they also seem like they are having fun with the silliness.

Next up is The Amityville Curse, starting a batch of direct to video sequels leading up to the 2005 remake. This one has a 2.9 on IMDb so I’m guessing I’m in for a bad time.

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