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Featured Post - Mystery Movie Marathon

I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Blood Pageant (2021)

A voiceover about something that I don’t remember and didn’t care about drones on as the camera zooms in on planet Earth and drops right down until it focuses in on the face of a girl who screams as the camera goes black. Then we see the message appear on screen… “Six Days Earlier”. The girl we saw is named Amy and she is going to see a medium for a card reading. She is worried that she “can’t go thru with it” which we find out later the “it” is going on a reality show. She is given a pendant and told to make a spirit board. Of course, that isn’t a good thing as somehow things get out of hand and a curse in the form of a mysterious figure in a black dress starts to kill people.

We are also introduced to another girl on the show, called American Dreams. She is a devout Christian and struggles with the content of the show. But Shelley can’t just quit when she recognizes the danger that everyone else is in. So she enlists the help of god by going to a church. There she meets a priest, played by Stephen Baldwin in a glorified cameo, who gives her some holy water and an old bible. This leads to a big battle where basically everyone, but our heroines die. But at least the evil is stopped…

This is a terrible movie. The cast is passable but nothing special. Things are dominated by the appearance of the previously mentioned Baldwin as well as Snoop Dogg and Ted Lange. These are basically small cameos with Snoop mostly showing up on a cell phone. Yes, he literally “phones” it in! The story doesn’t help as it gives nothing interesting for the actors to sink their teeth into. This is a very basic story that has a “been there done that” feel. It was mind-numbingly boring. It spends far too much time on backstory for characters that don’t move the story along and honestly that as a viewer I couldn’t care less about. This movie clocks in at almost two hours and desperately needs a bit of editing. Though I’m not sure if that would help at all.

Father Baldwin...
Blood Pageant also has this weird swerve at the end where it sort of becomes an odd faith based horror flick where the power of Christianity saves the day. But that doesn’t match with the rest of the content, so I was a bit confused. I mean there is a murder at a threesome, though it is totally lame. Both the murders and the threesome. Speaking of killings there are a total of eight. The stuff on screen is lame and what could have been cool is offscreen or seen after the fact. I was terribly disappointed with what the movie had to offer. I also wondered if this was supposed to be a comedy, but since it isn’t funny, I’m guessing it either wasn’t or failed miserably.

If it isn’t obvious yet I’m not recommending Blood Pageant. It is a misfire that no one needs to waste their time watching. I’ve seen a lot of crap while digging thru the stacks of flicks to watch for the site and this has to be one of the worst I’ve seen. Make me feel better for having watched this and heed my advice.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Monday, August 29, 2022

Revealer (2022)

This movie caught my attention because I’ve heard great things about it, as well as horrible things. With that in mind and the fact that it was on Shudder I had to take a look at this one. What did I think? Keep reading to find out.

The fun kicks off with a television preacher locked in what appears to be a room or hallway. There is a television playing one of his sermons while a voice yells at him. He is screaming back that he isn’t a sinner. Note to self if you have to argue that vehemently that you aren’t a sinner you probably are. The credits roll and then we meet our main characters.

Angie works as a stripper at Revealer, a peep show. We see her walking into work and thru a batch of protestors where we meet our other main character, Sally. She is your typical Jesus freak who is trying to “save” everyone from themselves. Angie goes inside and sets her booth up when a weird storm rolls in. The guy running the shop, Ray, gets yanked out the door when he kicks out some of the protesters who have come in to take cover. When next we see him, he is the worse for wear as his tongue has been ripped out. Angie can’t get out of the booth because the door is stuck. Never fear though as the only other survivor is Sally who reluctantly helps. The rest of the movie is them bickering until they find a common ground, all while trying to escape what is happening.

I liked Revealer a lot. This is a very small movie with few locations and just a few characters. Most of the action revolves around Angie and Sally and the actresses portraying them do a wonderful job. They come across as real people and while you can see these opposites eventually becoming friends because of the performances it feels real. The only other actor that has any lines of note is Ray and he is there to show that outside is very bad.

The plot is solid and paced well. Clocking in at an hour and twenty-five or so minutes not a single scene is wasted or felt like padding. The characters are always moving forward, whether it is sorting out how to get Angie out of the booth or realizing they need to get to the tunnels beneath the shop to make their escape safe from the disaster happening outside. Now I must warn you that the next bit is going to give some spoilers so if you don’t like that sort of thing, I’ll let you know that I’m going to highly recommend Revealer. Okay you have been warned.

In the early stages of the story Sally is very annoying about this being the end times and that the rapture has happened. But as things progress, I was surprised that is exactly what is happening. Though the rules about who is in and who isn’t aren’t what Sally thought they would be. Angie points out that she is right there with her. This leads to a plot twist that I didn’t see coming and was interesting. All while this is happening, they are being chased thru the tunnels by the demon of lust, which I suppose makes sense given where Angie worked. This makes for an exciting and interesting watch.

I love the creature design
There isn’t much gore with Ray being the only person who gets messed up and the worst of it is offscreen. What I did like was the design of the demon as well as the look of both the club but the tunnels as well. Oh and we find out once they are down there that this is where the preacher was in the precredit bit. How is that possible? Okay there is a super spoiler coming… the camera pulls back at the very end after we thought they had reached safety only to see in a post credit scene (stick around!) that they are already in hell. Wow… I did not see that coming. Way to go movie.

I don’t get why there is so much hate for Revealer, but I don’t agree with it. Maybe people were turned off by the small cast or maybe they didn’t see the post credit bit. Either way I’m going to recommend that everyone check it out. This is a great movie and another big score for Shudder.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Friday, August 26, 2022

Amityville: Mt. Misery Rd. (2018)

I must warn you that this isn’t going to be a pleasant review to read. This “movie” checked a lot of boxes on my shit list and I’m not going to shy away from going into detail about them. If you don’t want to hear me rant, then let me save you some time and let you know that this is a steaming pile of diarrhetic excrement that I don’t recommend. With that out of the way let us proceed with the rest of the review.

Our main characters are Charlie and Buzi, played by Chuck and Karolina Morrongiello, who I believe are married. I could check to verify that but there is no way I’m wasting another millisecond of my life on this movie. They are going to check out the most haunted road in America which is of course Mt. Misery Rd. We get to watch them do stuff before doing more stuff and then getting on an airplane to fly from Florida to New Jersey only to do more stuff. Eventually after most of the movie has passed, they do check out the titular road which means leaving it and wandering into the forest because it turns out the road means shit all to the story. Stuff happens and then mercifully it ends.

I believe that the most important observation that I can make about Amityville: Mt. Misery Rd. is that it isn’t a movie. I’m not saying it is a bad movie, I’m telling you it simply isn’t a movie at all. Allow me to elaborate. Things kick off with some old pictures and some word salad that I believe is supposed to establish that the stretch of land the road crosses is cursed. Then we watch Charlie drive his car on the highway. Not the titular road because he is still in Florida at this point. He is just driving and shifting gears and whatnot. Eventually he pulls up to a big house where I suppose the action is going to start. But instead, he goes to his mailbox and gets the mail, then proceeds to walk to his front door go in and stroll over to the kitchen where he sorts the days correspondence. Fellas watching someone do their errands isn’t a movie. We don’t need to see all of this to establish what is happening, but when you don’t have a story then I guess you have nothing else to put in.

Dude likes his lady...
Charlie finds an envelope filled with pictures of orbs, which is actually like five or six which he keeps flipping thru. First who sends actual pictures via snail mail anymore? Email that shit! He gets excited and calls out to his wife, Buzi. Now I don’t want to be unkind, but she is a terrible actress. Not sure if it is her thick accent or just an inability to deliver a line but she is nails on a chalkboard bad. Though she is very pretty and before you think I’m being creepy keep reading to see what happens later. While he talks on the phone Buzi Googles Mt.Misery Rd. We spend a few minutes watching her Google and read various websites while Charlie is chatting on the phone before eventually joining her.

Then Buzi announces that she is hungry, and we then see her doing a sexy dance for Charlie at a bar while a song plays about her being hot and stuff. Oh, she must have changed too because she is now in some booty shorts that the camera keeps focusing on. Again, she is a pretty lady and I guess that Chuck is quite proud of her in real life (again I think they are married) but damn it I signed up for a ghost story. They get some food and find a guy who is from the area and keeps telling them not to go while struggling to not look at the camera while stumbling over his lines.

Getting a little creepy Bro...
So far we have watched some driving, checking the mailbox, Googling some shit, and of course sexy dancing/getting food. This isn’t a movie this is what my parents used to call “puttering around town”. Don’t worry though we get a montage of them at the airport horsing around, another visit to a restaurant in New Jersey where they meet an “expert”, and another getting ready for bed montage where we get an even more revealing and lingering set of shots on Buzi’s buttocks. This is starting to get creepy dude…

Eventually they make it to the woods and the last ten minutes, you heard me right it takes that long to get to the actual spooky stuff which isn’t spooky at all, where Buzi walks around calling out for the now missing Charlie.

In conclusion nothing happens. There is no story, the dialogue is clearly improvised by folks that have no aptitude for doing such things, and our lead actress has the most annoying voice I’ve heard since Woodchipper Massacre. The proceedings are shot on what I believe must have been phones with selfie sticks used to get some distance from the “actors”. Just to be clear this isn’t a found footage movie they just didn’t have a third person in most spots to hold the camera. I have no idea how this got made and distributed, but it is an egregious example of the sort of shit that gets out there and wastes our time. It kills me that actual filmmakers who have some talent and are trying to do something interesting don’t get a shot but somehow this nonsense does. While I have more to say I’ve already spent far too much time on Amityville: Mt. Misery Rd. and will finish by saying that this is hands down the worst of the bunch. I know there are another twenty plus to get thru, but God help me if there is a worst one to come.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Amityville : The Awakening (2017)

I kept saying that I’d eventually find one of these sequels that I’d like. I knew the moment that I saw the Dimension logo as well as Blumhouse being involved that this may be that flick. Toss in some name actors and I have to say I was excited.

The movie starts off as most of these do with a recap of the killings that kicked off the legend of the house. Then we see a new family moving in. Mom, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, has brought her family to town to be closer to her son’s doctors. He is in a vegetative state due to an accident that happened when he was defending his twin sister’s honor. The sister is played by Bella Thorn. See actual recognizable names in this one!

They move into the house and of course weird stuff starts to happen. The brother slowly starts to wake up, but he isn’t alone in his head. His twin sister catches on quickly that something isn’t right about what is happening. Of course, no one believes her. Toss in some new school friends that fill her in on the house which leads to a very odd moment where they are talking about the original movie while in a sequel to that movie! That is the sort of clever writing that you get with Amityville Awakening which also includes the best twist I’ve seen in any of these movies.

I suppose that I should give a spoiler warning as I’m going to ruin some parts of the movie. Unlike all the others I’ve talked about this is the one time that you probably want to watch this flick before reading further. You have been warned. Like I’ve mentioned the story is interesting and has an unexpected twist. The fact that the brother slowly recovers and eventually gets around to shot-gunning his family down wasn’t too shocking. What I didn’t see coming is that the mom had lost her faith in God and moved the family into the house not because it was cheap but to see if the “other” guy would help her child. She purposely put them all in danger to see if evil could help! That I never saw coming and is so different from the characters as victims that we normally get.

In addition to a cool story, we also get a movie that is packed with some decent jump scares that are setup well with the building of tension as we get to see things moving around in the shadows and other such creepy stuff. The movie has a wonderful rhythm of suspense released by a scare followed by ramping up the suspense again. This is a very well-made flick that I have to say I rather enjoyed. The “transformation” scene of the brother finally getting out of bed and cracking himself limber again also had me cringing. It is done mostly with sound and an actor that can contort his body around, but it is effective.

In addition to Thorn and Leigh there is also an appearance from Kurtwood Smith as the doctor. He is a welcome addition and does a solid job in his supporting role. Overall, this is by far the best of the franchise since maybe the remake which I will get around to reviewing eventually. If you have to watch an Amityville movie, then this is the one to check out. Especially if we are talking about any of the many sequels that have been coming out.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Amityville Prison (aka. Against the Night) (2017)

The movie starts off with an interrogation of a woman by what I think must be a police officer or maybe a Fed. She is covered in blood, and he tells her that he is sorry about what happened to her friends. So that is probably a bad thing. He asks her to tell him again what happened and that is where the main plot of the movie kicks off.

Our lead is with a group of friends hanging out and bullshitting about stuff. They hear their friends upstairs having sex and filmmaker Hank decides to sneak up and film them going at it like bunnies. Well, I guess that is something that friends do now… Eventually they start to talk about his career and as a result Hank offers them money to go to the local haunted prison, Holmesburg, to shoot his next big reality show. They agree and off they go. Eventually they get trapped in the abandoned buildings and are picked off one at a time until it is just our final girl and the police who show up. Which is why she is sitting in a room being interrogated.

So that is the end, right? Well not really. In an interesting twist it seems that the kids stumbled onto a hidden meth lab and the gas mask wearing killer was one of the guys running the illegal operation. This is despite Hank going on about how the prison is laid out like a crop circle and spewing nonsense about aliens. Though we see that all the guys working the lab are dead and when shots ring out sure enough a damn alien walks thru the door! Roll credits.

I want to give them credit for an interesting plot. I loved the whole misdirection when I thought it was going to be a bunch of drug dealers and not anything supernatural. That was a neat twist and very creative. But then they ruin that with the stupid reveal of the alien at the very end. Why was that necessary? Spoilers… it wasn’t. That twist added onto a twist left a bad taste in my mouth. I was already on the fence with Amityville Prison due to the at times terrible pacing and found footage shaky camera style, so this just pushed me into the negative review territory.

I guess I should also mention something else. As you may or may not know there are a ton of Amityville movies being made. That is because the name is that of a town so pretty much anyone can make a movie with Amityville in the title. But this goes even further than that because it was shot as Against the Night and is set in Philadelphia. Not once in the movie does anyone reference Amityville nor does the plot make any connection to it. Again, it also switches from a drug dealer to an alien monster movie never venturing into a ghost storyline at all. So far this is the most egregious attempt at slapping the name on a movie to garner interest and get distribution.

Is this a terrible movie? Again, the plot twist ruined it for me, and I had other issues with Amityville Prison. In the end though I have to admit that I’ve watched much worse. While I still can’t recommend Amityville Prison if you must watch one of these low budget entries then this one is okay, I suppose. Still there are much better things to check out.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Monday, August 22, 2022

Amityville Exorcism (2017)

I’ve done several of these marathons but this one is really starting to wear on me. But I’ll carry on because I’m an idiot. I honestly don’t know what the hell I was thinking. They are making these things faster than I can watch them!

The movie kicks off with the typical footage of someone doing away with their family. This time he uses a hammer to beat them to mush. Though it is offscreen so don’t get too excited. The next scene is at the prison where our killer is on death row. He is visited by a priest and confesses that he worked on “that” house and took some of the lumber from there to other job sites. Yep, this movie is all about haunted two by fours! So, the priest goes looking to save the unsuspecting families from the evil wood.

Our main characters are an alcoholic man and his daughter. They are having difficulty getting over the death of his wife/her mother. He is a jerk and unfortunately the evil wood takes advantage of the drama to possess her and send her out on a killing spree. After giving her “not boyfriend” a fatal hickey the priest and dad have to do battle with the demons to set her free. All I can say about this part is that someone watched the Exorcist a few times. Oh and the drunken dad also burns the hell out of some perfectly good hot dogs in what is the most disturbing part of this movie.

This movie was directed by Mark Polonia which used to mean something to me. His latest output hasn’t been very good and sadly I’d have to add Amityville Exorcism to that list. The story is incredibly slow with long stretches of scenes that do nothing to move the plot along. This includes a bit with the world’s worst burglar breaking into the basement of the now haunted house. After announcing his presence with “Business Time!” he is dispatched by the evil lumber which also somehow disposes of the body. The “not boyfriend” is there to show up in a few scenes to talk to the daughter about how awful her dad is and then to get killed. I feel like they could have done something with his character but didn’t.

The exorcism is straight out of the much more famous movie that I mentioned earlier. Though I did doubt the wisdom in using bungee cords to tie her down. The makeup effects work isn’t low budget… it is zero budget. The demon who we keep seeing looks like he is wearing a mask and robe from Spirit Halloween and the possession makeup looks like the zombie makeup kit you can pick up from the same store for ten bucks. You used to be able to count on a Polonia movie to have better makeup and gore than this. I will give them some credit for the burglar getting his guts pulled out, but that is it. The rest is disappointing.

While not as awful as some (see the last entry in this marathon) Amityville Exorcism is bad. Cheaply made without much of a plot I’d recommend skipping it. If you want to watch some vintage Polonia Brothers goodness, check out Splatter Farm.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Amityville Evil Never Dies (aka. Amityville Clownhouse) (2017)

This is the sequel that was hinted at with director Dustin Ferguson’s Amityville Toybox. By that I mean it totally ignores the tacked on ending of that movie where they had to pad it out with a couple unrelated characters. But the toy monkey is back. This time it is purchased by a couple and brought home. It makes him act like an abusive ass and gives him awful CGI nightmares. The wife eventually figures this out and throws it away, but it returns because that would be too easy. Then Ferguson does what is typical for him and recycles a bunch of footage from Toybox to pad out this movie. I mean why spend time and money when you can make the audience watch shit that you have already released?

There is also a bit at the opening of this movie with some characters that break into the house from Amityville Toybox only to get killed! Does that connect to this story or somehow bridge the end of that flick into this one? Nope. That would require some thought to be put into the story and script. Ladies and gentlemen that just isn’t what this director does.

Just in case you haven’t read my reviews of Ferguson’s Camp Blood movies or his earlier attempt at an Amityville movie then let me clue you in on something. He puts no effort into what he does and recycles footage so he can “double dip” into the audience’s wallets. Let me explain with this latest example. The movie is a bit over an hour long. It has long end credits and again reuses about fifteen minutes of “highlights” from the previous movie. That means there is maybe forty or forty-five minutes of new footage in Amityville Never Dies. I suppose that would be okay if it weren’t for what that footage entails.

The husband goes for a drive and picks up a hooker. Though most of this sequence is him driving around aka. they just sit in the passenger seat and film him cruising around town. I’ve seen driver’s education flicks that are more exciting than this. We also get to watch the wife wander around the park, look at some fish, make some sketches in her notebook, and then send some text messages. Just to be clear these aren’t quick cuts to establish locations or characters they go on and on. We also have an exterminator show up to poke around and talk to the wife about the nonexistent rat problem that her husband keeps talking about. This amount of padding makes me wonder why I’m watching this “movie” at all.

There is some terrible audio issues where the dialogue cuts in and out constantly. That means in addition to being mind-numbingly boring many scenes are also impossible to hear. Then again maybe that is a blessing in disguise. The kills are lame and mostly happen offscreen. The only gag that I enjoyed and will give them credit for is a bit with some eyeballs that pop out. It isn’t great but they do it with practical effects work. I appreciate that sort of thing.

I don’t understand how Dustin Ferguson gets away with making movies like this. Who is buying this shit? Please take my advice and don’t spend your time or money on this or any of his other movies. In conclusion after having a couple okay Amityville movies I’m miserable again. But I’ll keep hope alive that there is something better coming my way.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Amityville No Escape (2016)

I have hope for this movie. Sure, it is another found footage entry into the franchise but this one is directed by Henrique Couto, He is one of my favorite independent filmmakers working today so there is a chance that this could be good. Might as well dive in and see. 

The movie has two main plot lines connected in a clever way. You have footage that a documentary crew has gotten possession of dealing with a woman who moves into a haunted house while her husband is deployed. There are some things that go bump in the night, but she doesn’t freak out. Instead, she does research about the history of the place and starts to feel better about things. Though in typical fashion not running for the hills at the first indication of haunting turns out very poorly for her. 

The other story follows the crew of friends who are heading to the house to not so much investigate the supernatural goings on but instead the ringleader is doing a study on fear. This is why he keeps showing them the footage to set things up to I guess scare the hell out of them. He has a friend, his sister, a hippie girl, and a cameraman come along for the fun. There are some creepy bits with a disappearing girl in the woods, a gun wielding local who yells that they are in danger, and other spooky things in the dark. Their story ramps up until they go into the house (they had been camping nearby) where it all reaches a disturbing conclusion that ties both stories together in an inexplicable but sort of neat way. 

This is certainly one of the better ones so far. The cast is decent and is given an actual story to work with. I liked the fact that there are a couple of plot lines that jump back and forth. This allows the movie to avoid getting boring as they can quickly shift from spooky to mundane and back. To enjoy a paranormal movie like this I’ve always felt that you need to have a safety valve to give the audience a chance to take a breath. Mostly because it is nearly impossible to sustain a high level of suspense for too long without it feeling forced. 

The cast is decent
There are several jump scares that work as well as a lot of creepy atmosphere to set the tone. I was interested in what was on the screen from start to finish. This reminds me that I wanted to mention that the editing here is perfect. The movie clocks in at seventy-eight minutes without a single wasted or bloated scene. Overly long scenes or unnecessary dialogue/characters has been one of my biggest complaints with a lot of these Amityville movies and here director Couto avoids all of that. Not surprising since as I’ve already mentioned he is one of the best directors working in the low budget scene today.  

Is Amityville No Escape a perfect movie? Not at all. There are some corners cut due to the low budget and some of the gags don’t work as well as they could. But the important thing is that I got believable characters in a story that never bored me. This is another solid movie that I can recommend, though this time without qualifications (See my review for The Amityville Terror for explanation). Two decent entries in a row. Could this mean they get better from here on out? Spoilers… hell no!

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Monday, August 15, 2022

The Amityville Terror (2016)

They keep making these Amityville knock off flicks and I keep watching them. This time around the movie kicks off with a man and woman trying to flee a house while things fly all around them. The lady stops when a little boy calls her Mommy and beckons her back. She goes, the door slams, and she is toast. The next scene is us being introduced to our main characters. This consists of a man, his wife, their teenage daughter, and the man’s sister who is just out of rehab. Apparently, she is a drunk.

Weird stuff happens not long after moving in. This includes a real estate agent who may know more about things then she is admitting too, some brother sister action that seems to be a must for these Amityville movies, some teenage bullying, and a local girl named Jenny who tries to help. FYI Jenny gets tossed out the window for her troubles. What is happening? Are the locals in on it? Will anyone survive? How many times will the real estate lady get naked? You will just have to watch this one to find out.

The Amityville Terror wasn’t horrible compared to most of the previous entries. Though let’s be honest that isn’t a high bar to clear. The story is familiar, but the pacing is decent. This movie clocks in at a decently tight eighty-four minutes. After that seemingly unrelated family from the opening the story wastes no time establishing the characters and defining their relationship to each other. There is also a bit of a mystery when it seems that some folks, like the man’s boss and Jenny act as if something is up. I suppose a spoiler warning is in order. See the real estate lady is evil and she is renting the house to people knowing that they will be killed there. For some reason many of the other locals are aware and, in some cases, seemingly in on it.

The above leads to some bloody mayhem including some guts, a beheading, some crossbow shenanigans, and other fun tidbits. Some of the effects are cringeworthy CGI but others are pulled off okay for a lower budget movie. The idea of feeding the house isn’t new to the franchise but I think that it is neat how they allow the story to leave the location. Instead of being trapped our main character, the daughter Hailey, gets to pop around town getting her Nancy Drew on! That also helps with the pacing.

If this was just a movie and wasn’t part of the Amityville series (such as it is…) I don’t think that I’d recommend The Amityville Terror. But this review and movie aren’t in a vacuum, so I’d be remiss in not considering that. If you are determined to watch one of these later Amityville movies, then you could do a whole lot worse than this one. With that sort of mediocre recommendation, I’m off to watch another entry. They have to stop making these… right? God I hope so.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Friday, August 12, 2022

The Amityville Toybox (aka. The Amityville Legacy) (2016)

My nightmare continues as I review yet another Amityville movie here for the site. This time around the universe doubled down on my misery by making me watch a Dustin Ferguson flick. If you don’t know that name count yourself lucky. I’ve already had to sit thru his Camp Blood installments so I’m not looking forward to this.

It starts as many of these “Amityville” movies do with a guy walking around killing his family. Then we jump forward forty years and see a guy giving himself a pep talk in the men’s room. He is on his way to a family reunion/fiftieth birthday party for his father. One of the gifts given at the party is a toy monkey that has cymbals that clap together. He had one just like it when he was a kid and thinks that it is a thoughtful gift. Just like the lamp, clock, and mirror before it the thing came from “that” haunted house in Amityville. Sure enough it has evil attached to it and suddenly Dad is talking to his dead father who convinces him to go on a shooting spree.

He kills everyone, but there is still fifteen minutes to make up the minimum runtime for a feature, so we get some random paranormal investigators at the house. They walk around and there is a possessed hitchhiker upstairs. But that still isn’t enough so a random old guy at a factory who is up to no good. With some extra long end credits that gets us to the necessary runtime. Do those last two things have anything to do with the story? Nope. But since there is a sequel to this movie they must connect there, right? Also nope.

I’ve never watched a Dustin Ferguson movie that didn’t feel padded out with little to no actual story. The Amityville Toybox has that same issue. There is a kernel of an interesting plot here with the family dynamics, but it quickly gets lost in the morass of fully clothed sex scenes, random walking around the house, siblings yelling at each other, and getting ready to go to the zoo. The murders seem to take forever to get to, but that is odd since this part of the story takes up maybe forty-five minutes of the runtime. That is how poorly staged and paced the proceedings are. Nothing happens most of the time and when things do happen it just isn’t good.

The acting is bad with people expressing either anger by yelling and all other emotions with a lifeless stare. Maybe if I had liked any of these characters the movie might have had more impact and therefore been more interesting. The movie is filled with continuity errors, especially shifting between day and night without warning when it is supposed to be a few seconds or minutes between scenes. The audio is sketchy and the camera work as well as lighting leave a lot to be desired. This is just another bad movie in a franchise that I’m regretting taking on more and more as the sequels keep coming. This is another one you can skip.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Amityville Playhouse (aka. Amityville Theater) (2016)

Still trudging thru these movies and they haven’t gotten any better yet. Here is what happens with this movie. Our main character is Fawn who we meet in a college classroom. The class is dismissed, and we find out that she has inherited a run-down theater from her parents. She and some of her friends are going to check it out, but her professor seems a bit concerned and decides to check the history of the place out. That is a good idea because we have already seen an inspector get killed by something at that very same theater!

The rest of the movie is Fawn and her friends getting killed and turning into spooky ghosts or possessed corpses. While all this is happening, the professor is reading books and figuring things out. When he goes to the locals for help more is revealed and the secret of the spooky Indian demons who live under the town is told. But by the time this happens I didn’t care as I was ready for this snooze fest to be over.

For the love of God filmmakers please hire an editor for your flicks. There isn’t that much story here and somehow, they manage to stretch the run time out to an hour and forty-three minutes long! This is why we get extended sequences of the professor reading books in his hotel room as well as the library. There are also painfully long scenes where our main characters bicker and trip over lines that they clearly can’t deliver. Though the inane dialogue doesn’t help either. We get on particularly annoying soliloquy where one character has to explain to another why calling yet another gay makes him look like a douche. Honestly ten minutes with this cast and I was already rooting for the ghosts to murder everyone. Spoilers… I get my wish in what is a completely predictable and terrible ending.

The not so great cast
What else can I say? The special effects aren’t very special. The director is not great. I’ve already mentioned a bit as to how bad the actors are. This movie is seven years old and as far as I can tell none of the actors have any other credits before or after. Draw your own conclusions from that. Other than the theater being in Amityville, really Canada filling in for New York state, this doesn’t connect to the series much at all. But at this point I don’t suppose that means anything at all.

This is yet another cash in on the Amityville name where some independent filmmaker decides to cash in on whatever crappy ghost movie they have made. This might be one of the worst of the Amityville movies that I’ve watched so far, and that is saying a lot. This is going to be a short review but honestly this one is so bad that I can’t even come up with material to be mad about. Do yourself a favor and avoid Amityville Playhouse at all costs.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Amityville Death House (2015)

The torture… er I mean marathon continues with this entry from producers Fred Olen Ray and director Mark Polonia. This starts off with Eric Roberts voice telling us that a long dead witch is being allowed to return to the world to kill the descendants of those that murdered her long ago. Then we see a sheriff sitting in front of what I think is a green screen jail cell. He is watching a video of some “kids” when we flash back to them.

Tiffany is going to check in on her grandmother and is dragging some friends along with her. When they get to the house they find the older woman in bed with a spell book nearby. Then some random folks like a knife wielding squirrel hunter and some rednecks get killed in the woods by something. Eventually they end up in the basement where one of Tiffany’s friends turns into a spider and the others do some very silly stuff before the house burns down killing them all. Or does it? Yeah, it has a dumb tacked on ending.

I like Mark Polonia and Fred Olen Ray, but this isn’t their best effort. The story is terrible with nothing happening for long stretches other than them sitting next to the campfire or wandering around the woods/house. I’m not kidding because that is most of what we get. This feels like a project that they came up with on the fly without a script or even a fleshed-out idea of a story. Even at a mercifully short hour and ten minutes with extended opening and end credits meaning the actual runtime is closer to an hour Amityville Death House was a chore to get thru.

The cast is forgettable which is both a bad and good thing. They aren’t good, but also not bad enough to have stuck with me for more than five minutes after I shut off the flick. They feature Eric Roberts name prominently, but he phones it in, literally. They have him do a voiceover a few times during the movie to move the plot along and try to fill in the gaps. It is clearly not him in the hooded robes holding the special edition Anchor Bay Book of the Dead Evil Dead DVD. I’m not kidding. That is the prop they use for the demon who lets the witch come back to Earth and who is voiced by Eric Roberts.

Spider lady!
You might have figured out with the last little tidbit above that the production values are bad on Amityville Death House. There is a lot of CGI which is especially bad when they try to show the house burning down. Guys if you can’t afford to properly shoot the script you then modify it rather than force some digital garbage down the audience’s throat. Also why cast a young actress as Grandma and then slather terrible makeup on to “age” her up a bit? You really don’t know an older lady that can lie in bed. There is little to no dialogue involved. The kills are also tame and just off screen. The only thing I sort of liked was the spider lady. It was cheesy but sort of fun.

This isn’t the worst of these movies that I’ve watched so far. But that bar is an easy one to clear. Do I recommend Amityville Death House? Nope. There are far better movies to watch. Hell there are far better Mark Polonia and Fred Olen Ray movies to watch! Skip this one and check out something else from their catalogs.

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

The Amityville Asylum (2013)

In my review of The Amityville Haunting, I basically said it was the worst of the franchise up to that point and that I hoped it would get better. Somehow this movie is even worse than that one was as they somehow manage to keep lowering the bar. I’m beginning to question my life choices. 

The movie starts off with a next to no budget reenactment of the murders of the DeFeo family. Then it moves to “today” where a woman is interviewing for a job as a custodian at a mental facility. She sneezes a big ball of snot on her potential new boss and gets the job. After an extended bit of training on industrial cleaners, which we get to watch uninterrupted by any story or character development, she starts working. There she sees a little girl who can’t be there, a woman who died earlier that day, and suffers some workplace sexual harassment. Then we find out that the doctor who runs the place is evil and there is some sort of native American based religious cult. Oh yeah and the asylum was built on the land where the house used to sit. You know “that” house… which is how they tie this one into the franchise. 

This movie is garbage. At almost two hours long it doesn’t have a plot that would support a short film. I’ve already mentioned the tutorial on cleaning products including how dangerous some of them are. I kept waiting for that to pay off, but it never does. That is terrible writing and even worse storytelling. We also get extended bits with some of the criminally insane patients saying horrible things about their naughty bits that also never comes into play. Why is it there? Did someone just think this dialogue was cool? That certainly is how it feels. These are just a couple of specific examples of the completely boring and seemingly disconnected scenes that are haphazardly stitched together to try and make a plot. None of it works and because of that it was a miserable slog to sit thru The Amityville Asylum. 

Totally a normal doctor with no evil agenda...
What else can I say? Well, the cast is terrible. No one has a bit of inflection to their line delivery as it seems that the entire cast is sleepwalking thru their scenes. I suppose that might have been a conscious choice to fit with the overall bleakness of the proceedings, but it was a terrible idea. Even when she is supposed to be scared or angry the lead actress has the same God-awful monotone voice that tries it damnedest to put you to sleep. There are also scenes where the music, which is already intrusive and doesn’t fit the scenes, is so loud that it bleeds over the dialogue so you can’t hear what the actors are saying. This may have been a purposeful decision to cover up some dialogue that apparently didn’t fit after the availability of an actor changed. But damn it you just don’t do shit like that. Lazy filmmaking pisses me off. 

I could go on, but I won’t. Skip The Amityville Asylum as it is a horrible waste of time. God I hope that there are at least some amusingly bad movies to come. I mean there are thirty more of these damn things at last count so even by accident one of them has to be good… right?

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Monday, August 8, 2022

The Amityville Haunting (2011)

Damn it! I suppose it was a matter of time before someone thought it would be a good idea to make an Amityville flick that was also a found footage movie. As you may already know if you have been hanging out at Crappy Movie Reviews, I’m not a fan of found footage. I’ll give them props when they are done right, but in my experience that isn’t very often. Well let’s see what we have here.

The story starts off with some kids sneaking into “the house” which looks nothing like the Amityville house at all. They get up to some sexy shenanigans and then something bad happens. What is that? Who knows we just see them yanked away from their phones… because you know everyone films themselves having sex when trespassing? Next up we see a family looking to buy the house. Even after the real estate agent drops dead in the driveway they still fall in love with the place. I suppose that explains why they don’t leave when the doors keep opening by themselves, the daughter’s boyfriend ends up as a pasty pile of dried blood in the backyard, and of course they find the phone with footage of the kids from earlier. Yep, no reason to leave the house… none at all. There terrible decisions lead to the predictable bad ending.

Not to sound like a broken record but I dislike found footage movies for a couple of reasons. First it is used as an excuse to not have a proper story with a beginning, middle, and end. The excuse of “its supposed to be real” is always tossed up as the reason filmmakers making these don’t have a plot with characters. Here this is on display with a family of unlikeable characters doing insanely stupid things that make no sense. This is only made worse when they use the most annoying character, the preteen son with the camera, as our narrator. When I say narrator, he does these odd confessional style monologues to try and fill in the plot between random bits of footage. When they do try and string together some sort of cohesive narrative, they screw it up. For example, we are told that they can’t afford to move, which is why they have to stay. Only to see the father install what has to be a very expensive security system to record what is happening in the house. Sure, that makes sense.  

Lets watch the characters watch the movie
The second issue here is that again the filmmakers lean into the found footage genre to cover up the fact that they clearly had no idea how to shoot a movie. The audio is awful, and it is hard to hear the dialogue at times. Also, like many found footage flicks the camerawork is enough to make you motion sick as the camera never sits still long enough to see what is going on. Sort of hard to make a scary movie when I can’t even see what is supposed to be spooky. This is also used to cover up the lack of budget and any special kills or effects. This is just lazy filmmaking.

This is the worst of these movies so far. I’m beginning to question the wisdom of this marathon. Hopefully they get better, but I hear things… bad things. Until next time heed my advice and don’t spend your valuable time watching The Amityville Haunting.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Friday, August 5, 2022

Amityville 8 aka. Amityville Dollhouse (1996)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the shit show continues with yet another entry into the Amityville franchise. This time we have a new family that builds their house on the foundations of the infamous haunted house that we all know and love. There is also a shed outback that has a dollhouse that looks awfully familiar. When the car mysteriously starts and smashes the youngest daughter’s birthday bicycle the quick-thinking parents swap out the dollhouse as her gift. Those tricky ghosts!

Things start to get strange when the dollhouse begins to take over. There are demons that seemingly can bounce between both places. Initially they don’t notice the changes happening but then the cracks begin to show. This is also a blended family with one young son wishing he could see his real dad, who he apparently remembers more fondly than he should. I’m sure that the ghosts/demons won’t take advantage of that! There is also a spiritualist sister and her husband who are able to lend a hand when shit gets really weird.

Just in case you haven’t noticed yet I do like a cheesy movie. Amityville Dollhouse is certainly that. The story is utterly predictable as it zips thru the runtime checking all the boxes that we would expect from a movie in this franchise. And yes, that does include some alluded to incest feelings, this time stepmom to stepson… so I guess it really isn’t. Though it is still creepy. There are the bumps in the night and some scares, though I was a little disappointed in the latter. We do get a funny gag with a wasp cockblocking a dude with the only way to save him is by pouring booze down his ear hole. I’ve not seen that before so kudos movie. And of course, the dead ghost dad tries to get his son to kill the family. I mean that is an Amityville tradition.

I realize that the review doesn’t sound terribly positive at this point. But here is the thing about this one. It never for a minute takes itself seriously and like I said before is cheesy from start to finish. The acting borders on goofy with some of the cast chewing on the scenery. We get some gratuitous gore with a crispy girlfriend that I found fun. The creature design of the demons when we eventually see them is my old favorite “guy in a rubber suit” model. I mean they didn’t overthink this one. It also helps that the pacing is spot on with something interesting happening every minute the movie rolling. Not once in the ninety-two-minute runtime was I bored or looking at my watch. I can’t say that about many of these Amityville flicks so far.

In the end is this a good movie? No probably not. But as a fun way to kill an hour and a half I’ve seen much worse ideas. So far in the franchise this might be my favorite of the bunch. Again, these are all new to me from here on out… except for the remake that is. I’m hoping for some hidden gems over the next thirty-five or so movies. This might have been a terrible idea.


© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer