Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989)

This movie has a lamp monster. I’m gonna let that sink in for a minute. What was once a Family Guy gag about Stephen King actually happens in this movie.

The evil demon haunting the Amityville house has managed to escape a pack of priests by jumping in a lamp and getting itself shipped to California, where it can plague a new family by pretending to be their dead father. Hijinks ensue as a young priest tries to track down the lamp while it terrorizes Grandma’s house. Ultimately Father Not-Karras arrives and successfully helps the family dispel the evil by destroying the lamp, saving the little girl it is trying to possess. Does this sound awful yet? Because, funny enough, I think it’s the best Amityville I’ve seen so far.

First and foremost, this movie is bloodier and does a much better job of keeping the horror going. It infects one woman and kills her with tetanus. It drowns a plumber in black goo. It possesses a chainsaw and messes up the basement. It melts phones, burns people, turns an eleven-year-old kid into a creepy psycho child, cooks the family bird in a toaster oven, and even chews up a teenager’s hand in a garbage disposal. That’s right, we get a blood-spraying garbage disposal scene. There are certain things that bother me in horror movies, and for some reason maiming by garbage disposal is one of them. Yuck.

When the lamp isn’t screwing everybody over with its demon possession, they are busy arguing, freaking out, trying to maintain normality and failing…basically things to keep the story moving while the demon preps to kick their asses or possibly maim or murder someone new. Sure, an ugly lamp is a terrible villain, and watching the demon enter it via the power cable like a cartoon does nothing to really help its case, but thank goodness SOMETHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS IN THIS ONE! I’ve seen a bunch of Amityvilles, and I finally wasn’t bored with one! Sure, it ends on a hokey note with a possessed cat, but its badly done glowing eyes are way better than the awful fly drawing of Amityville 3-D.

The priest character also gives this movie shades of The Exorcist, though obviously not as strong. You probably won’t be biting your nails at any point, save the obvious build up to the garbage disposal scene. Seriously, you know it’s coming. You can see it coming. The movie basically tells you, “THIS IS GONNA HAPPEN.” I paused, shuddered, and then got myself through it. But there is some decent build up to all of the horrible moments and some solid red herrings too, even if the movie doesn’t reach the intensity of the greats in the genre. Early on in the film, when the grandmother is about to open the box containing the lamp, she asks for a sharp kitchen knife…emphasis on sharp. Nothing happens, but it keeps you on your toes.

Well done, Amityville. Took you long enough. Now if only you didn’t have to use a freaking lamp monster to do it!

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