Easily the most benign and unintentionally amusing of all the AMITYVILLE films, this made-for-TV chiller features the most ludicrous satanic villain since the eponymous hero of DEVIL DOG: THE HOUND OF HELL (1978). In this installment in the never-ending haunted house series, a demonic
floor lamp strikes terror in the heart of a dysfunctional family.
Eager to unload the Amityville house, a realtor disposes of the house's furnishings at a flea market. There, impulse shopper Helen Royce (Peggy McCay) buys and mails a hideous antique lamp to her sister, Alice Leacock (Jane Wyatt), as a joke. After cutting herself on the tree-shaped light fixture,
Helen lapses into a tetanus-induced coma. Meanwhile, a novice priest, Father Kibbler (Fredric Lehne), who had conducted a botched exorcism on the house, wonders what has become of the domicile's spooky furniture.
In California, Alice not only greets the unsightly lamp but also welcomes her widowed daughter, Nancy Evans (Patty Duke), and her grandchildren, teenage Amanda (Geri Betzler), pre-teen Brian (Aron Eisenberg), and 11-year-old Jessica (Brandy Gold), who begins communicating with her dead daddy
through the possessed lamp. Things quickly go bump in the night as the toaster oven claims Alice's beloved parakeet, Brian picks up a self-propelled chainsaw and destroys the basement, and an electrician's son loses his hand in the Leacock's garbage disposal. After Father Kibbler learns of Helen's
death, he prevails upon chief exorcist Father Manfred (Norman Lloyd) for permission to warn Helen's relatives. As the Leacock house manifests more violence, a plumber drowns in black goo in a crawlspace, and Alice's housekeeper, Peggy (Lou Hancock), gets strangled by the lamp cord. Despite his own
fear, Father Kibbler decides to drive Satan from the Leacock house as Jessica acts progressively devilish. Alice finally tosses the lamp out the window with Father Kibbler still attached to the cord; fortunately, Nancy clips the wire with an ax. Smashed to bits on the rocks below, the incandescent
filament's demon next inhabits the family cat.
If it weren't for its dull expository patches, AMITYVILLE 4 would be a classic howler; as it stands, there's plenty to occupy the nit-picking temperaments of bad-movie lovers. Campaholics will be in nirvana over such oddball moments as Father Kibbler's hysterical outburst about the possessed
fixture and the closing shot of the kitty-kat lighting up satanically as it mews. Although the film seriously hints that satanic power lies in undermining the family unit's solidarity, this issue isn't fully addressed; the film also dampens suspenseful sequences by continually cutting back to
Father Manfred and Father Kibbler engaged in straight-faced dialogue that radio's Bob and Ray might have parodied. Whatever its failures, the film does have its sublimely awful merits, including the shot of classy Jane Wyatt tossing the floor lamp like a veteran javelin thrower. At such moments,
AMITYVILLE 4 sends the petty-minded into rapture as it scales new heights of the absurd. (Graphic violence, profanity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1989
- Rating: R
- Review: Easily the most benign and unintentionally amusing of all the AMITYVILLE films, this made-for-TV chiller features the most ludicrous satanic villain since the eponymous hero of DEVIL DOG: THE HOUND OF HELL (1978). In this installment in the never-ending ha… (more)