Amityville Horror: The Evil Escapes (1989)

Patty Duke, Jane Wyatt, Fredric Lehne, Lou Hancock,
Amityville Horror: The Evil Escapes is a TV movie starring Patty Duke, Jane Wyatt, and Fredric Lehne. The demonic forces in the haunted Long Island house escape through a mystical lamp which finds its way to a remote California...
  • 4.3 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2020-03-15 Added:
  • John G. Jones, Writer:
  • Sandor Stern, Director:
  • Barry Bernardi, Producer:
9 / 10

One of the better entries in the series

Written and directed by Sandor Stern, scriptwriter of the original Amityville Horror (1979) film, Amityville: The Evil Escapes is an excellent, gripping extension of the Amityville mythos. This is all the more remarkable when we remember that it's the fourth entry in the series and it's a low budget made-for-television film--two factors that in the conventional wisdom do not often add up to greatness.

We begin with a cadre of priests who are attempting to exorcise the original Amityville home in Long Island for good after the events of the previous three films. Father Kibbler (Fredric Lehne) has a problem when an evil force runs through an electrical cord into a large, bizarre lamp, and it puts him into the hospital, unconscious. Assuming they were successful, the other priests authorize an estate sale cum garage sale. Alice Leacock's (Jane Wyatt) sister sees the lamp and decides it's perfect for a birthday present for Alice--she thinks it's hideously ugly (I thought it was attractive, but I obviously have unusual tastes) and they've been sending each other gag gifts, so the "Amityville Curse" moves to California by way of the still-possessed furnishing. At the same time, Nancy Evans (Patty Duke), a recent widow, and her three kids are moving into Alice's home. The "curse" doesn't just stay in the lamp, and most of us could probably fill in a lot of the blanks from this point.

So while it's not unprecedented in terms of its plot, I don't subtract points for covering familiar ground (or add them solely for "originality"). More importantly, Stern creates a focused script, with Stephen King-like "everyday horror" overtones enabled by "possessed appliances". He shoots the film with admirable style and atmosphere, on well-constructed (or located) sets, and he gets great performances out of his seasoned cast.

The extension of the Amityville mythos was important for the series as it enabled the first film that could take place outside of the original house. Smartly, Sandor still gives us a home that has a similar tonality, but it's also different enough to enable fresh material.

Aside from making the horror more related to common, everyday events and items, the idea of "possessed appliances" is not quite as goofy as it initially seems, at least for anyone who takes real life research into paranormal/supernatural phenomena seriously. The usual thinking about ghosts, at least currently, is that they make themselves known by manifesting as, or manipulating, energy. That's why there are "cold spots" around ghosts (we can forget that this may have to violate the usual understanding of heat transference in physics), why "electric voice phenomena" (EVP) is supposed to work, why electromagnetic pulse readers can supposedly pick up aberrations that could be ghosts, and why they could manifest as light. If any of that stuff were true (I'm a skeptic, but I find this stuff fascinating anyway), then it would make sense that ghosts could manifest through the electrical system of a house, in objects designed to be manipulated by changes in electromagnetism, and so on.

Of course, whether the plot is plausible in the actual world is beside the point of whether this is a good film. Horror is in the realm of "dark fairy tales". The important aspect is that Sandor created a great device from making very common things in a house frightening, under very common conditions, and subjecting a number of common people to the situations. He exploits this to its full potential in Amityville: The Evil Escapes. And in doing so, he often features scenes that are surprisingly visceral for a made for television film.

There is also more depth than one might expect from a fourth Amityville film meant to air on television. There is a subtext of a dysfunctional family (partially caused by tragedy, but appearing to have deeper roots) running throughout the film. For example, on a surface level, a "ghost"/evil spirit causes Brian Evans (Aron Eisenberg) to trash grandma's basement with a chainsaw, but we can easily read the supernatural premise as metaphorical and see the scene as a rebellious kid going nuts. This reading makes this particular scene, at least, just as funny as tragic, but most of the horrors in the film are symbolic of family relationship problems, and most of them are not very funny.

For my money, both this film and Amityville II: The Possession (1982) are better than both the 2005 remake and the 1970 original film. Unfortunately, this entry is not very easy to find on DVD, and the next three entries in the series have never been available on DVD in the U.S. to my knowledge. Hopefully, this situation will be rectified soon (I was hoping that all of the Amityville films would see DVD release/re-release with the arrival of the remake), but until then, I'll have to seek out region free DVDs or bootlegs of Amityville 5, 6 and 7.

5 / 10

Mildy entertaining

I wasn't expecting much from this film, however it turned out to be decently entertaining considering it's the fourth Amytville sequel. The plot concerns a possessed lamp removed from the original Amytville house, that is now in a new house causing mayhem. The acting is decent and the story isn't too boring. Sadly it lacked gore, but then so did a lot of films in the late 80's.

Whenever I see a lamp now I always think of this film, whether that's a good thing or not I don't know. If you can find a cheap copy then it may be worth a watch, however I wouldn't go out of your way to find it as it's not the best around.

7 / 10

stay away priest

One of the best of the amityville films...

its just a shame that its not actually set in amityville...

but the movie does start off in the house which I loved, I just wish it stayed there.

the house is finally blessed and all the furniture is sold off, the evil enters the furniture and off it goes to a new location booooooo

the evil is the lamp, and its a very creepy looking lamp too, its a low budget horror but its done really well...

6 / 10

Better then the third movie

A number of priest, go to this house and get the evil force out of the house, one of the priest get hurts and see that evil force as got into the lamp.

Now that stuff of the house, is now being for sale and that includes the Lamp that as evil force in it.

two women then end up buying the lamp, so she send it to her sister for her birthday.

The lamp get to her sister, Alice Leacock house and on that same day Alice Leacock Alice's daughter, Nancy Evans and her 3 kids Amanda, Brian and Jessica come to stay and i can not wait to open the package.

Soon odd thing start to happen, alice tells Nacy thinks this is all kids doing, Nacy is also worried about Jessica is talking to Lamp, thinking she talking her dad, who passed away before.

Meanwhile the priest is out of hospital and trying to track down the lamp and but time is running out fast, will it make in time to save the family before evil force takeover yet another house.

This is movie is really good, much better then the third, this movie can a get a bit silly at times but it works well with the rest of the movie, movie never gets boring, there is always something to keep you entertained.

One of the better movies in the series, I will give this movie 6 out of 10

5 / 10

Mildly entertaining made-for-TV Amityville sequel.

This one actually has a decent story to it taking the action outside of the Amityville house and putting the evil in an old lamb, which is genuinely creepy. The problem here though is the made-for-TV budget and feel, director Sandor Stern who directed the Canadian classic Pin tries to put in some creepy moments to play with the audience, sadly though the first half is rather slow, and after the first five minutes in the Amityville house it literally takes forever for something to start happening. It's definitely better then part 3 that's for sure, but, there's still no reason for you to go out and look for this thing. If your a prime member though at this time it is available to watch for free.