Friday, September 20, 2013

Scream Factory's Unholy Triumvirate: THE AMITYVILLE HORROR BOX SET (Blu-ray)

The Amityville Horror has been a personal favorite horror picture for me since I was a kid. I did a report on the book by Jay Anson in the fourth grade, stunning my class and teacher. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book in some time, there’s content that might be considered moderately inappropriate for a 9 year old. I would go on to watch the movie, enjoy Margot Kidder’s “softer side” and learn to fear my basement. I’d rent it with some frequency. When it comes to the sequels I’ve got a story for that too. Amityville II: The Possession was a “family favorite”. My older sister seemed to really enjoy it, but I didn’t quite understand how the sequel worked in juxtaposition to the original feature. I was expecting a continuation of the story surrounding the Lutz’s. All I got was Burt Young verbally and physically assaulting his family which, at the time, I didn’t understand. When I say it was a family favorite, it’s because my mother walked in during one of the questionable incest scenes and immediately popped the movie out of the VCR. Of course we had the neighborhood kids over to watch it, so this created quite the stir. Amityville 3D has one of the best covers that epitomizes the power of the 80’s VHS box. The film itself left me uninterested and, again, wanting a connection to the original film and book that simply wasn’t there save for the ancillary necessity to have the same damn house in the movie. When I heard that Scream Factory was releasing a box set of all three films in one tidy box set, the third installment in an upgraded 3D display I new it wouldn’t be long before it would tell me to “Get Out!” in my own living room.

Let’s follow this series from start to finish.

Amityville Horror Synopsis:

A family moves into a house that’s price is too good to be true, but there’s a secret. The damn thing is possessed by some brooding evil that will affect each member or the family and their visitors in a unique and horrifying way.

Amityville II: The Possession Synopsis:

Family moves into the Amityville house under very similar pretenses as the original. From there the possessed house seems to take control of each family member in an even more unique way than in the first picture and each person, again, is tormented in a terrifying fashion.

Amityville 3D Synopsis:

Bring on the naysayers! This installment follows a group that goes into the famed Amityville house in an attempt to debunk the myth that the house is possessed and what might be the real cause of the “haunting”. Well the house is out to debunk the debunkers and gives them a first hand view of what it means to have a house attack back.

Each movie suffers just a little bit more as the series progresses in terms of story and substance. That’s not to say that each one doesn’t have its fan base. Friends of mine are adamant supporters of The Possession, and I get that. You’ve got better acting than the original picture and they’ve worked out some of the kinks (like not including small blinking light eyeballs out a window). I don’t think you’ll find many who will espouse their love for Amityville 3D or at least not more than the original two pictures, but the characteristic 80’s monster effects and low budget along with the gimmick of the terrifying you in all three dimensions does have their charm. Still I find that the order in which they were released is the order in which I prefer them. 3D does have the best cover art to this day, and is probably more fun than the previous to movies.

The Scream Factory box set includes classic cover art though the package artwork is a variation on popular imagery used in the films. It is actually a little creepy to stare at. It’s a great big red box of demonic possession with poor George Lutz staring out at you in black and white. The reversible sleeve of each film includes screen shots and stills form the picture in what has become a treat for fans of the Scream Factory titles in the absence of updated artwork. I’d love to see what Milliner or Pullin could create for this series. The artwork is much better than the original DVD release of the set.

mThe extras on Amityville I mirror those put on the original MGM box set. Fascinating but nothing really new. You get an audio commentary by a parapsychologist, the For God’s Sake Get Out doc (which you absolutely must watch for God’s Sake!) that features James Brolin and Margot Kidder. For Amityville II there are some new goodies. You get an interview with the Director, Damiano Damiani (subtitled) as well as interviews with actors Andrew Prine, Diane Franklin and Rutanya Alda. The audio commentary is provided by author, Alexandra Holzer (Growing Up Haunted – A Ghostly Memoir). For Amityville III you get both versions of the feature film; a 2D release as well as a 3D though to watch the 3D release you’ll need a 3D Blu-ray player and 3D TV (equipment specifications on the back of the box). Each film comes with a theatrical trailer. While I own a 3D Blu-ray player I do not own a 3D TV, however I am taking steps to watch the 3D release shortly. I'll provide an addendum to this review once I've had a chance to enjoy it as "nature intended"

Amityville I comes with a 5.1 DTS master or 2 channel DTS master. Amityville II only comes with a DTS Master Mono track and 3D comes with a 5.1 DTS master. The 5.1 tracks are split from the original 2 or mono tracks. No audio problems/issues to report.

The quality of each release is good though I would say that the original and The Possession seem to be the most clear with the highest attention to preservation and picture quality. I think that I expect that given the actual production value on 3D appears significantly lower out of the can. Some more prominent film grain here and there, but it shouldn’t detract from your enjoyment of the picture. The first two installments look so damn pretty.

These three movies come at you at a reasonable price and have never looked as good as they do now with extras fit to possess your Blu-ray player and in enough dimensions to keep the television squarely in your lap (or at least the third movie will) Revisiting each film in this release was a treat. Somewhat older now I was able to appreciate it more; once you buy a house, the Amityville Horror series starts to take on a deeper, more personal meaning. You’ll skower your basement for a secret room, check all the window frames and flush the toilet ever so cautiously. Basically these three movies provide a check list for each thing could find wrong with your new abode… if it was possessed by pure unadulterated evil. Call a priest. Buy some fly paper. Buy a plunger and tell your damn kids to keep away from the damn windows (and closets).

You can order the Amityville Box Set through Scream Factory or pick it up from DiabolikDVD.


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