Monday, June 28, 2021

Maximum Overlight

I'm slowly learning that the Amityville franchise has a lot to offer. While for so long, I found the original film an overrated bit of haunted house drama better served by the less-discussed Burnt Offerings, my out-of-order trek through the sequels is proving to be a delight. And much thanks to the fabulous Gaylords of Darkness podcast for turning my eyes to the KILLER LAMP installment, now streaming on Amazon. 

Quick Plot:
The Amityville house is almost clean, but needs a final priest gang  invasion to finish the job. Young Father Kibbler, fairly new to the job, gets bedroom duty where he sees an evil spirit, um, travel from the wall outlet through the cord of an incredibly designed floor lamp, become a Great and Powerful Oz-like bulb face, and cause a power surge that sends the priest into shock.

THIS, folks, THIS is why I love the horror genre.

Despite the injury, the priest team is convinced they've cleared the home of any evil, which is enough for the realtors to throw a yard sale to clear out whatever belongings the Lutzes left behind. A pair of sassy seniors stop by and like any sane Long Islander, spot this thing on sale for $100 (in 1988 money) and know a great deal.


Helen decides to send it westward to her sister Alice as a birthday gag, but not before she slices her finger on the brass finishing and ends up confined to a hospital, her bed surrounded by hazmat plastic because Amityville tetanus is no joke.

Back in California, Alice is grumpily being visited by her newly widowed daughter Nancy (Patty Duke!) and three grandkids: nice enough teen daughter Amanda, animal-loving adolescent Brian, and creepy weirdo Jessica.

A wealthy dame who clearly prefers the company of her household pets and housekeeper, Alice isn't thrilled with Nancy's stay or life decisions, and the immediate onslaught of dead animals, power outages, polluted tap water, oil spills, manic chainsaws destroying her root cellar, and dreaded food dispenser attacks certainly points to this family visit being bad news.

Amanda and Brian are rather heartbroken that their grandmother seems to blame them for what's clearly something supernatural, and eventually, as Father Kibbler recovers to make his own trek to the new haunted house, even Alice has to agree that Amityville's curse has gone bicoastal.

Amityville: The Evil Escapes was technically a made-for-TV thriller, and while some of its timed-for-commercial beats are noticeable, it feels as wonderfully bonkers as the slightly more R-rated It's About Time. Writer/director Sandor Stern was a small screen veteran, though many horror films will know him better from the delightfully weird and absurdly Canadian Pin. Here, he dives into a well-known property with a whole lot of energy.

Lest you forget, THIS MOVIE IS ABOUT A HAUNTED FLOOR LAMP. A garish, rather ugly floor lamp that sort of looks like Jack Skellington's great Italian uncle from Long Island (as an Italian from Long Island, I am indeed allowed to say such things).

The lamp, or evil that escaped Nassau County via the lamp, can possess such items as toaster ovens, chainsaws, windows, and repair vans. It BLOWS UP when hurled down a mountain. It is everything I've ever wanted to be and more. The only way it could have been better had been if instead of the admittedly FABULOUS floor lamp star, there had been a different casting decision wherein Stern went with this admittedly smaller table lamp Helen spots first at the estate sale:


High Points
More often than not, the "little brother" in cinema is an insufferable brat who exists solely to torment his sisters. What a lovely delight that Brian (Aron Eisenberg) is actually the film's most pleasant character, a supportive son who absolutely loves animals and is genuinely devastated that a) they keep turning up dead and b) he's the prime suspect. This is a sensitive kid, and it's rare to see that handled so matter of factly in the genre

Low Points
Look, this is essentially a perfect movie and gave me everything I could ever want right down to the final feline-centric shot. My only beef? We never get the followup. HOW CAN YOU LEAVE ME HANGING WITH THE UNFULFILLED PROMISE OF A HAUNTED CAT????

Lessons Learned
At a certain age, fun is the most important thing

At a certain age, a disgusting purple mummy finger isn't the worst thing

At a certain age, a disgusting purple mummy finger will prove to be fatal

The Winning Line
"Show me where the basement is!"
Has the answer ever not been "downstairs???"

Obviously, Amityville: The Evil Escapes is a helluva good time. Have a go. Now. 


  1. I can't believe I've never heard of this Amityville installment before. It sounds...perfect. Not sure I will ever check it out but I do want to say that this is another of my fave of your posts. I lol'd several times. Fantastic point about the cat lamp.

    Btw, isn't Pin amazing? What an underappreciated classic that one is.

    1. Pin is so good! Such a strange film that really defies categorization.

      Thank you for the kind words! I do hope you give this one a go. It's such a blast!