People need to stop buying real estate on the cheap in Long Island - it never ends well. The Amityville Curse is a genuine Canuxploitation classic as the film bares little connection to the sprawling haunted/possessed/cursed house franchise but proves to be a wildly entertaining and sometimes hilarious venture all its own. Canadian International Pictures and Vinegar Syndrome deliver an excellent Blu-ray release spotting a terrific new 2K scanned transfer, great audio, and a sturdy foundation of worthwhile bonus features. For genuine schlock cinema fans - Worth A Look
While house hunting in Amityville, young couple Debbie (Dawna Wightman) and her deal-hungry psychiatrist husband Marvin (David Stein) spot a unique fixer-upper opportunity. Inviting their friends Frank (Kim Coates), Abigal (Cassandra Gava), and Bill (Anthony Dean Rubes) to come over and help them fix the place up, it’s not long before everyone in the house begins to experience dreadful supernational activity. As the encounters continue, the body count rises as one of the group becomes possessed by the terrors held within the dreaded Amityville House!
Much like the original The Amityville Horror and the hit novel that spawned it, you have to take the haunted legends of the Long Island, New York home with a rather large grain of salt. Yes, the terrible DeFeo murders were a real tragedy, and the following encounters of the Lutz family living in 112 Ocean Ave. certainly spark curiosity in the terrifying possibilities of the paranormal. However, the side stories, films, sequels, prequels, remakes, and tangentially involved entries like The Amityville Curse only muddy the legend as quick albeit cash grabs. And most of them are pretty bad, but they can be very entertaining.
In the case of The Amityville Curse, this is pure Canuxploitation at its finest. The film was shot in Toronto and the house in question bares zero resemblance of the original Colonial structure at 112 Ocean Ave. It’s just your average large house with more rooms and bedrooms than any newlywed DINK couple could ever possibly need or use. But it makes for a nice spooky setting for a haunted house flick! An adaptation of the novel by the same name from Hans Holzer (who also wrote another daffy exploitation book called Murder in Amityville), the story only tangentially connects to the DeFeo and Lutz incidents without offering any new clarity or insight into the hauntings beyond making a quick buck through title recognition.
That said, as one of the many direct-to-video sequels, The Amityville Curse is actually pretty damned entertaining. I wouldn’t necessarily call it “good” by any traditional definition of the word, but it is fun and there are some genuinely spooky bits. The cast is largely pretty solid giving it their all to sell some sense of terror while director Tom Berry aims to keep the tension rising all while brilliantly shot by My Bloody Valentine cinematographer Rodney Gibbins. This is a great looking spook house flick and there are some nice horror beats in the last act, it’s just the setup and connection to the original film that is so tenuous that it’s best to try and not view it with any expectation for narrative continuity to any of the films in the series.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Amityville Curse haunts Blu-ray for the first time thanks to Canadian International Pictures with Vinegar Syndrome. Pressed on a BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a clear case with reversible insert artwork. If you order from Vinegar Syndrome, you can snag a nice slipcover replicating the new custom artwork. The disc loads to an animated main menu with standard navigation options. Also included is a 10-page booklet.
Before this release, the only time I ever saw The Amityville Curse was probably 25 years ago after renting it on VHS. I know I’d seen it before but didn’t remember a lick about it. Suffice it to say that after a new 2K scan, the film actually looks pretty damn good! Details are sharp and clear allowing you to soak in that late fall, early winter feel of the film while appreciating the impressive production design. Later in the film, there are some great makeup effects to digest as well. Black levels can be a bit middling in places but they’re overall stable without any terrible crush issues. Colors again favor that drab cold gray fall/winter tone but primaries get plenty of attention while flesh tones look healthy and human. A few speckles here and there are the only iffy spots to report for an otherwise nice-looking Blu-ray debut for stateside collectors. This film has been released a few times in Germany, but I have no idea if this was the same transfer or not; I never imported it.
The film scores a moody and effective DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix. For a film that’s more focused on moody scares than loud nonsense and monsters to sell the scares, it’s appropriately quiet so that when the scare does happen - no matter how goofy - it at least hits. Dialog is clean and clear throughout without issue, although it does sound hollow in some places like the actors had to loop or overdub their dialog. Scoring is clean and effective and there’s a nice feel for spacial imaging in the channels to give you some extra atmosphere throughout.
On top of the goofily entertaining film, there’s actually a pretty robust assortment of bonus features Top of the pack is the interesting audio commentary but there are also some great cast and crew interviews to look over!
Outside of the original film and a couple of the sequels, the Amityville franchise just isn’t very good and in all honestly doesn’t make much sense. Such is the case with The Amityville Curse based on a novel that in itself makes little sense or connection to the original tale of terror that spawned the series. But this little gem of Canuxploitation proves to at least be very entertaining. After disappearing from nearly all consciousness after its rental market debut in 1990, the film returns to haunt physical media with a great new Blu-ray release from Canadian International Pictures and Vinegar Syndrome. The A/V presentation is solid and the release is propped up but a nice selection of bonus features to pick through. If you’re game for another round of haunted terrors, check out The Amityville Curse. Worth A Look