Franchise Review: Amityville 3D – The Demon

A reporter moves into the Amityville house in defiance of the supernatural events connected to it, and finds everyone around him besieged by the evil manifestations which are connected to a demonic presence in the basement.

Just a year after the sequel was released and we got another release, “Amityville” was hot property (no pun intended).

I’ve never been a fan of the whole 3-D gimmick, it’s just something that has never appealed to me and in my opinion it’s usually an indication that the film isn’t going to that good. Now usually I find that I’m proven right but luckily for me and other viewers this film is one of rarities, a 3-D film that is actually good.

I was extremely surprised with this feature, I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. Sure the 3D aspect is awful, seriously it’s bad, but the story itself is really good and I found that I was really drawn into it and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Not what I was expecting at all really.

The acting here is genuinely good, especially Tony Roberts, and yes that is a young Meg Ryan before she became famous. Once again the cinematography is really well done, a real strong point of the first three films. Having seasoned Richard Fleischer was a great addition and it worked well.

This would actually be the last “Amityville Horror” film to be released in theatres (well, until the 2005 remake) as it was considered a box office flop. I find this strange as it was #1 at the box office its opening weekend and the amount of other sequels that had cinema releases despite low numbers.

“Amityville 3D: The Demon” is a great story let down by one too many awful 3-D moments, if you can look past them though you’re in for a treat of a haunted house film.

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

Not counting Amityville: The Awakening (2017), which is a completely original story, this is the only theatrically released Amityville film not to be based on a book but instead on the real life accounts of investigator Stephen Kaplan.

The character of John Baxter is loosely based on Stephen Kaplan and his investigation of the house, who at the time was trying to prove the Lutzes’ story was a hoax.

The frost that blows out of the basement onto Candy Clark was actually warm wax. She later admitted that she had to wash her hair with detergent to get it all out.

Like the previous instalment, Amityville 3-D filmed the exterior scenes at the same house in Toms River, New Jersey and a house nearby for the exterior of Nancy’s house. The interior was a set in a Mexico studio. The filmmakers almost never got the house to film at again. It was scheduled to be picked up and moved over one lot. They were only able to film the exterior shots before the house was moved. Originally the house had four quarter shaped moon windows, two on both sides. However, by the time of filming in 3D, the owners of the house did not want the eye windows on the side of the house facing the road so they modified them to look like small ordinary square windows. All shots of the “eye” windows (except for the most noticeable scene when John and Susan pull up to the house) had to be filmed on the side facing the river that has the sundeck.

Also known as Amityville III: The Demon.

As with Friday the 13th: Part III (1982) and Jaws 3-D (1983), which were also released in 3D in 1983, Amityville 3-D was filmed using the ArriVision 3-D process to be coordinated, for this film, by cinematographer Tibor Sands. The Arrivision 3D system filmed 3D movies in standard color, with a single camera and one single strip of film. The process utilized a technique in which a special twin lens adapter was fitted to the camera and divided the 35mm frame in half down the middle, the result was that the right eye image was in the lower half of the frame and the left eye image was in the upper. The innovation was to allow a single camera to capture the image that could be merged when with the help of the special polarized glasses.

Originally filmed in 3-D. For years the only commercial 3-D release was on the UK released Region 2 PAL Collector’s Edition DVD, but a 3-D Blu-ray has now been released in the U.S. as part of the “Amityville Horror Trilogy” box set released by Scream Factory containing the first 3 theatrical films.

A camera angle from the top of the stairs looks nearly identical to the iconic similar scenes in Psycho (1960).

At the screening, movie patrons were given the disposable polarized glasses so they could see the film, creating the illusion that certain props and elements were coming toward the viewers. In this case, a pole that penetrates a car window; a Frisbee that flies toward the screen; a skeleton reaches out its arms; and a set of French doors that fly at the audience during the climactic scene. Most striking are the film’s opening titles, in which the large block letters moved outward, and the 3D were skewed as they moved outward. The process was supposed to be the new beginning for the 3D process, but it did not last long. The chief complaint was that the images in Amityville 3-D were blurry and distorted. Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert complained on At the Movies, that the images were indistinct, and said “it really looks crummy.” Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel said that “The 3D added nothing to the experience. All you ended up with was eye-strain.”

Due to a lawsuit between the Lutz family and Dino De Laurentiis over the storyline which did not involve the Lutz family, Amityville 3-D was not called a sequel in the marketing. However the film does make reference to The Amityville Horror (1979) as it follows a paranormal investigator attempting to prove the Lutz’s story was a hoax though the family is never referenced by name.

MGM Home Entertainment originally released the DVD with the theatrical title “Amityville 3-D” on the box artwork (also the title on the opening title card of the film itself). However they received many complaints as the film wasn’t actually in 3-D and some even mistakenly mistook the release as a 3-D version of the original 1979 film “The Amityville Horror”. Due to this they re-released the DVD with the foreign territory title “Amityville III: The Demon” on the box artwork despite the film itself retaining “Amityville 3-D” on the title card.

This is the first Amityville film to be shot in the 2.35:1 ratio.

Legal disputes with George Lutz and Kathy Lutz prevented this film from legally being presented as a sequel to The Amityville Horror (1979). As a result, any reference to the Lutz family by name could not be made in the film, and a disclaimer was placed in the credits that this is an unrelated film (that just so happens to be loosely based on a later part of the true story). Furthermore, the DeFeo family is referenced more than once in the film, despite the fact that the name had been changed to Montelli in the previous entry in the series Amityville II: The Possession (1982). This brings up further disputes on if the second film is a sequel or prequel.

For a long time, none of the 17 reviews accumulated on Rotten Tomatoes were positive resulting in an abysmal 0% rating. It received a slightly higher 5% rating as of 2019.

The Amityville Realty phone number is 666-1818. The “666” is the number of the beast as told in the Book of Revelation in the Hebrew Bible. “1818” is 6 times 3 (which might be written out as “666”) twice. (1818 was also the year that Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” was first published, which is credited as the originator of the horror genre.)

This film is considerably tamer in subject matter compared to the last two films, especially the second film which dealt with topics like domestic violence and incest. This was a deliberate change done to the series as a result of viewer complaints that Amityville II: The Possession (1982) was tasteless.

The film was a critical and financial failure when it was released, effectively killing off any plans for further Amityville inspired films. For a long time, every Amityville film that came out after this one was either straight-to-video or made-for-television until MGM released The Amityville Horror (2005) remake in theaters.

Although the film wasn’t based on a book like the first two films, it did however, receive a novelization by Gordon McGill.

Before the release of The Amityville Horror (2005) remake, this was the only theatrically released Amityville film that wasn’t scored by Academy-Award winner Lalo Schifrin.

This film features a scene where Meg Ryan is in a diner with some friends. The angles are oddly similar to those seen years later in When Harry Met Sally (1989).

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