Plot: An old woman finds an odd lamp at an estate sale and as a joke of sorts, buys the curio and ships to her sister Alice (Jane Wyatt), despite the cost of shipment being more than the value of the lamp itself. Before she sends it off, she gets a nasty cut from a sharp edge on the lamp, but she shrugs it off and the lamp makes its way to California, with all unaware it came from the cursed Amityville house. Alice’s daughter Nancy (Patty Duke) is recently widowed and to get a fresh start of sorts, she moves her family with her mother. The lamp’s arrival is laughed off, as it is such an unusual item, but soon Nancy’s daughter starts to have some strange visions. She claims to see her deceased father and while it is blamed on the grieving process, even more inexplicable things start to happen around the house. Is the lamp just a light fixture with a bad reputation or has it brought some of the Amityville curse with it?
Entertainment Value: Sure, haunted houses can be a lot of fun, but who doesn’t want to see people battle a haunted lamp? This sequel drops the scares and adds in generic, made for television style family drama, but Amityville 4 has enough wackiness to never be dull in the least. The narrative ignores most of the Amityville lore established to this point, but the focus on a haunted lamp is hilarious and sets the tone for the rest of this silly picture. I wish the family drama was nastier or more dysfunctional, like the chaos in Amityville II, but this is more of a hokier, slower kind of melodrama, though still fun to watch. Like the family from a cereal commercial thrown into a haunted house, stalked by a possessed light fixture. The story is of course weak, but the movie more than makes up for that with the sheer volume of silliness that unfolds, with a steady flow of off the wall sequences to bask in here. The cast plays it straight and adds to the wackiness, while having Patty Duke in this kind of supernatural schlock is a fun addition, not to mention Jane Wyatt. At the same time, some will tune out because of how outright stupid the movie is at times, so it is likely of most value to those who can appreciate it for the less than traditional elements. I had fun with Amityville 4 and for genre fans and b movie maniacs, it is an easy recommendation.
No nakedness. This was an 80s made for television production, so to expect rampant sleaze is a little unrealistic. Not much in terms of bloodshed either, but we do have the garbage disposal scene and while it is by no means blood soaked, at least a little flow of the red stuff is present. Unless you also count the cut the lamp inflicts on an elderly woman, that’s about all the carnage in Amityville 4. The dialogue is passable, but never really ramps up and runs with the potential present. I love the bursts of dysfunction and family drama, but I wanted the volume cranked up. Still some humorous moments though to be sure, from hysterical outbursts to rampant backtalk to old lady talk, so some points are earned here. The craziness scale is where Amityville 4 leaves an impression however, from the wooden, after school special performances to the series of odd, off the wall happenings to of course, the haunted lamp. A few highlights include a runaway chainsaw, mother slapping, some ominous brushing of a doll’s hair, a smoking hot phone conversation, a baked parrot, and a stupid, but somehow awesome final scene that hints to a promise that isn’t delivered on in the sequels.
Overall Insanity: 6/10
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