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 Thread Rating: 14 votes, 5.00 average.
Old 05-01-2005, 04:20 AM
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Default Amityville 3-D




Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: April 30, 2005

Released by: MGM
Release date: 4/5/2005
MSRP: $14.95 (Single disc) | $39.96 (Box set)
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes | P&S: Yes



inline Image With video cassettes becoming a viable viewing alternative in the early 80s, theatrical audiences began to shrink. Modern audiences, especially horror fans, increasingly entertained the notion of watching films within the comfort of their own homes. Why risk the foul glances and critical scorn when going to a theatrical horror movie when the same movie (and 10 others like it) could be seen in privacy at home. Thus, the horror genre was at threat to be swallowed by video, as the porn industry had been doing. So horror filmmakers began to think of gimmicks that would bring audiences back to the theaters, and for a fleeting moment in 1982-1983 the 3-D film was in vogue. The trifecta of 3-D sequels, Jaws 3D, Friday the 13th Part 3D and Amityville 3-D, led the way, offering a big screen experience that could not be recreated on home video.

The 3-D craze has long since past, yet those sequels still retain a favored life on video. Many consider Friday the 13th Part 3D to be one of the better sequels, and considering the quality of the Amityville series before and since, Amityville 3-D certainly isnít regarded as the worst. The draw for Amityville 3-D has no doubt shifted between mediums though, from a fun theatrical three dimensional experience to an early Meg Ryan/Lori Loughlin vehicle on home video. As the final film in their new Amityville box set, MGM has finally ported the film to DVD. It remains two dimensional, so what else does this third Amityville film offer audiences? Not much.

The Story

inline Image After a campy credit sequence, John (Tony Roberts) and Melanie (Candy Clark) enter the infamous Amityville house. They sit at a table and join hands, for they are about to engage in a sťance with a gypsy lady in hopes of contacting their deceased child. They chant, and eventually they hear moans and then a glowing ball purporting to be their son. It circles around the table and calls out to them, until Melanie takes out her camera. She snaps away to reveal a man in black dangling the ball Ė the whole thing was a hoax. John and Melanie are reporters, and they get the story of a lifetime in exposing the hoax of Amityville. In celebration, and in knowing that there are no actual ghosts in the Amityville home, he decides to buy the house at a bargain price. He has just split from his wife, Nancy (Tess Harper), and this is to be his bachelor pad.

inline Image John invites his daughter to move into the house along with him, and Susan (Lori Loughlin) obliges. Not before long though, the house again begins to do crazy things. Those damn flies are back, and worse yet the evil seems to no longer be constrained to the house. Elevators and cars go on the fritz, and everyone in Johnís life starts having bad experiences in and outside of the house. A Ouija Board party with Susan and her friend Lisa (Meg Ryan) is even cut short when a glass is mysteriously flung across the room. If it is all just a hoax, why is this happening?

inline Image After one accident too many, John decides to enlist in Elliot West (Robert Joy), a doctor specializing in the supernatural, to monitor the house. As he and his experienced team of technicians set up shop in the Amityville home, the secrets within the walls are revealed. The house is angry, and that convenient well to hell in the basement gives the house all it needs to lash out against modern science. Several optical effects later, John and Nancy are finally reunited in their battle with the house that just wonít stay quiet.

inline Image In theaters, Amityville 3-D was a three dimensional experience with two dimensional characters, story, and scares. The plot is threadbare, useful only in stringing together 3D shots while just riffing off the story of the original film. The acting is incredibly empty, as actors search for their marks rather than their characters. A five minute scene is devoted to John fixing a sink, not because it is important to his character, but because the faucet emits a mist that looks nice in 3D. The story, in all its bare simplicity, even fails to abide by the rules established by the first two films, in that there is no sort of continuity with the deaths and the evil of the house. Why would a car miles away from the home suddenly lock its doors and burst into flame? It is no Plymouth Fury, so your guess is as good as mine. Also a problem is that the house no longer seems to have any possessive force over its inhabitants. What worked in the previous films (and the remake) was seeing a seemingly goodhearted character descend into evil. It gave a real threat to a supernatural problem, and without it here in Amityville 3-D, it is tough to really care about any of the goings on. A house making creaking noises and activating random lights gets tired fast.

inline Image In 3D, these flaws are totally overlookable, because the 3D works, and it works well. There are plenty of great shots that really force depth and perspective, like the scene where a pipe is shot through a car window and seemingly out of the screen. The finale, with an optical ghost floating around the basement, is also particularly effective in three dimensions. Without that dimension though, the fun is lost, and it instead becomes tedium. While surely a fun gimmick in theaters, watching a man play Frisbee with the camera is like watching turtles copulate in 2D. Amityville 3-D is a gimmick film, and without its gimmick on video, it isnít much else.

inline Image In 2D and PG, Amityville 3-D really has nothing other than a spunky Meg Ryan to offer audiences. Considering Ryan only has a few minutes of screen time, that is a lot of trudging for a none too memorable performance. If the walls in Amityville could speak, theyíd tell you never to watch this film.

Image Quality

Amityville 3-D is again not in 3D, but is offered in both 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and pan and scan on separate sides of the disc. Considering the film was shot with the intent of being displayed in a layered red and blue print, the film looks quite bad in 2D and in color. Colors look unnatural and flat, with an off-putting red and blue haze outlining many of the edges throughout. Considering the way 3D is shot, with two differing perspectives of the same scene layered on top of each other, the resulting 2D print looks very soft around the edges. Some scenes look sharper than others, but there are many, particularly wider focus shots like the exteriors of the house, that look considerably more fuzzy. Print blemishes are relatively minor, but that still does not make up for the unappealing image. This was never meant to be displayed this way, and like a colorized black and white film it looks fake and overall unsatisfactory.

Why MGM did not include the 3D version of the film is beyond me. Considering they have a useless pan and scan version on the flipside of the disc, they could have easily replaced it with the 3D version of the film. If supplying glasses were an issue, I donít think fans would mind paying a little extra for the film or the box set, considering the low price points for both already. This is a real missed opportunity for MGM, who has otherwise done a commendable job for this bang-for-your-buck set. This is a film that relies on the third dimension for shocks and entertainment, and removing that element removes all the fun.

Sound

Although Amityville II: The Possession was presented in mono only, this film features a revamped Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Like the 5.1 mix for the first film, good use is made of the rears for ambience and music. The flies buzz loudly from all directions, and the climax at the end has a real audible punch. There are no discreet effects, as the front and back lack any sort of channel separation, but the resulting sound is still somewhat enveloping. A pleasant surprise, considering the merits of the film and the lack of extras on the disc.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Like Amityville II, all that is included is a trailer. The most amusing additive is the disclaimer on the back cover, which states "This picture is not a sequel to the pictures "The Amityville Horror" or "Amitville [sic] II: The Possession"". If it looks like a duck, and it sounds like a duck...

Final Thoughts

Amityville 3-D is bottom of the barrel in every way, without even the 3D conceit to offer on home video. In theaters it was a mindless visual spectacle at best, but in two dimensions it is nearly unbearable. The image quality, although clean, suffers from a softness and poor colorization inherent in transferring an anaglyph 3D picture to colored 2D. The sound is a nice surprise, with a boisterous 5.1 mix, while the extras are virtually non-existent. Campy fun could have been had in watching this film in 3D on DVD, but alas this release is a real missed opportunity by MGM. Leave this house on the market.

Rating

Movie - D
Image Quality - C-
Sound - B+
Supplements - C-

Technical Info.
  • Running time - 1 hour and 33 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated PG
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish mono
  • English subtitles
  • Spanish subtitles
  • French subtitles
Supplements
  • Theatrical trailer

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Old 05-01-2005, 10:41 PM
Great review on the film, I would have to agree that it was rather tedious watching it.

But I think you've misunderstood the type of 3-D the film was shot in. It wasn't shot in the red and blue type 3-D that most people associate with the term but with Arrivision 3-D, the field sequence 3-D technique used to film Jaws 3-D and Friday the 13th 3-D. Thusly it would be horribly exspensive to put the 3-D version out to consumers because the equipment needed to view the film in 3-D is rather costly.
 
 
Old 05-01-2005, 11:55 PM
Moderator
The issue regarding the 3-D process for Amityville is kind of confusing, Shoes, and I am glad you brought it up. Although it was shot in the same process as JAWS and FRIDAY, I am guessing that the intent for the film was to be shown in a down converted anaglyph format. I am supposing this because of the red and blue lighting scheme used throughout the picture, which would lend to better anaglyph visuals. If you consider the color hues between AMITYVILLE and FRIDAY, the color pallette used by AMITYVILLE is far less realistic, which seems to suggest that it was never intended to be displayed using the field sequential display system.

As I understand it, field sequential requires a specialized screen, lens and glasses, just to exhibit it in theaters, and because of such a process I can't really see it as being the dominant display format that these films were exhibited in back in the early eighties. I can see large scale theaters in big cities perhaps offering such an experience, but I would guess that the majority of theaters showing FRIDAY, JAWS or AMITYVILLE were all displaying it in anaglyph red and blue. Periodic searches on eBay in the past have led me to view red and blue glasses brandishing the FRIDAY THE 13TH logo that were distributed for PART 3D's release. So, at least somewhere, the film was being projected red and blue, and I would assume that is how most theaters projected it. Even the big budget SPY KIDS 3-D was released both in theaters and on home video in the red and blue format, so despite the technology available, field sequential does not seem to be a realistic display format for large scale releases. It works for specialized IMAX screens, but on a wide-release basis, I think anaglyph is the only alternative.

So veering back into AMITYVILLE 3-D discussion, I would say that the film was mostly seen in its anaglyph format, and because of such, the most readily available widescreen negative was probably also in the format. Setting the red and blue lighting aside, the DVD transfer of the film displays several edges throughout that have a red and blue muddle to them, which leads me to believe that the print is an anaglyph one. Comparing it to the video quality of the FRIDAY PT 3 DVD, it looks much more like a doctored anaglyph 3D print.

So what my main beef was, was that if the film was lit for the anaglyph format, and the transfer used seemingly culled from an anaglyph print, then why not just spring for the cheap red and blue glasses that have graced previous DVD releases? Even if I am wrong in saying that the print seems to be an anaglyph one, the process of converting field sequential to anaglyph is a relatively cheap and painless one, and one that can be done even by consumer software. Releasing the film in anaglyph 3D was definitely in MGM's grasp, but they passed it up to save a few bucks on glasses. And I think you'll agree with me, Shoes, that that was a major missed opportunity.

Now, perhaps I am totally wrong with my hypothesizing regarding the film and the way these films were shot/exhibited/transfered, etc. but that is just my (limited) understanding of the process from reading snippets at various 3-D sites. Anyway, it makes for good discussion!
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Old 05-04-2005, 02:14 PM
White, Proud, and Stupid
I'm just wondering although I'm pretty sure it wouldn't work, if wearing the red-blue 3D glasses would image appear in 3D on this. What sort of a process would have to be done (by MGM) to make it so?
 
 
Old 05-23-2005, 02:37 AM
Amityville 3 in 3-D
Actually, it couldn't have been THAT expensive for the studio to put it out in 3-D. How do I know? Because Region 2 has a terrific Special Edition out that presents the film in 2-D and ALSO in 3-D on a separate disc. I watched it on my computer monitor and it was quite a fun experience. It come with the blue/red 3-D glasses. I was quite surprised when the studio didn't duplicate their efforts here. For those of you with Region Free players, you'll appreciate the Region 2 set. There's also a quirky little audio commentary on there with two British reviewers.
 
 

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