Wednesday, October 18, 2017

There’s A Piece Of You That’s Here With Me

Year: 1992
Director: Tony Randel
Cast: Stephen Macht, Shawn Weatherly, Megan Ward
Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

I know we’ve had some rough times during this Amityville marathon, but overall I’ve been enjoying this second trilogy far more than the first, even if the production quality has taken a sharp nosedive. Part 5 was a bust, but it’s sandwiched between two films based on the loony short story collection Amityville: The Evil Escapes, about haunted objects from the Amityville home being bought by various unsuspecting antique enthusiasts.

I didn’t think anything could beat the haunted lamp of Part 4 in terms of sheer kooky inanity, but here comes Amityville 1992: It’s About Time, which throws a haunted clock into the mix. In addition to providing that delightfully idiotic title, the clock concept opens up a lot of avenues for crackerjack direct-to-video nonsense and I’m all in.

Once franchises are desperate enough for pun tiles, anything goes.

So, a clock. It’s not such a triumph of Evil Object design as the gnarled floor lamp two movies ago (god, this franchise just refuses to end), but it’s certainly spiny and baroque enough that no reasonable human being should want it in the house. Luckily, real estate developer Jacob Sterling (Stephen Macht) is not a reasonable human being. After he gets mauled by a dog that may or may not be a ghost, his hopelessly attached ex Andrea (Shawn Weatherly of Baywatch) stays in his Poltergeist-style tract home to take care of him and his two kids: be-earringed punk freshman Rusty (Damon Martin) and virginal teen daughter Lisa (Megan Ward of Joe’s Apartment fame).

The clock begins to exude its influence on the house, turning Jacob into a rabid Close Encounters-esque recluse, obsessed with sketching and sculpting images of the original Amityville house (the still-impressive design of which makes a glorious reappearance after being absent for the blasted entirety of The Amityville Curse). As his madness grows, time starts to fluctuate around the family, slowing, stopping, flipping, and reversing as they’re all haunted by images of black goo and various mildly spooky occurrences.

It’s so hard to summarize movies that are just random grab bags of scare scenes.

I’m going to actually say some nice things about It’s About Time, so I want to preface that by reminding you that it’s not a good movie. This is still a direct-to-video Amityville sequel, with a perilously low budget and actors who are basically competent but wholly unremarkable. The sets and props also have that curiously blocky look that haunts cheap productions, as if everything was roughly carved from Styrofoam seconds before being put onscreen. This is not top-tier filmmaking by any stretch of the imagination, but at least the project was put in the hands of a director with an imagination to stretch.

Tony Randel is by no means a master craftsman, but the man who cut his teeth on Hellbound: Hellraiser II has more to offer than the typical DTV Amityville director (the most they could collectively boast was a handful of episodes of Touched by an Angel). And while it’s clear that a bigger budget certainly would have allowed some of the core ideas to flourish more than they actually did in practice, there’s creativity and a sense of fun at work here, especially in the terrifically strange third act.

Plus, I have a soft spot for films that show handsome, bearded men in peril.

Actually, you know what, allow me to introduce you to the aforementioned handsome, bearded man. That’s Lenny, the second useless psychiatrist character in as many movies. He also happens to be Andrea’s boyfriend, who’s surprisingly chill with her living with her ex. So chill in fact that he’s willing to have a picnic on these strangers’ patio, bone down on Andrea mere feet away from the bedrooms of both her convalescing former lover and his underaged children, and somehow be willing to sit down and take a bath in this house after that very same former lover has threatened him with a loaded revolver. Lenny is awash in a sea of completely inscrutable character motivations, and I gotta say I love his moxie.

And who even takes baths anymore? So brave…

Bad-good characters aside, It’s About Time embraces the “rubber reality” of post-Elm Street horror with gusto, plunging everyone into bizarre situations that are occasionally quite visually distinctive and always totally bugnuts.

Some gags are legitimately chilling, like an invisible visitor who joins Andrea in her bed. Some are even a little gory, like the elderly neighbor who gets Final Destinationed by an ice cream truck. And some are just bizarre, like the Under the Skin-esque seduction murder that involves a model train. The final 35 minutes or so just pile on the wet and wild cheapie horror stunts, and it’s more than enough to keep you entertained, if you’ve already been inoculated against lousy DTV filmmaking.

Amityville 1992: It’s About Time actually provides an experience and avoids being a slog even during the not particularly interesting character moments. It doesn’t quite cross that dotted line over into “good movie” territory, but I enjoyed myself quite a bit with this one. It delivered a heaping helping of earnest weirdness, which is exactly what I require from a horror flick of its ilk.

TL;DR: Amityville 1992: It's About Time is a reliably bonkers DTV sequel.
Rating: 5/10
Word Count: 903
Reviews In This Series
The Amityville Horror (Rosenberg, 1979)
Amityville 3-D (Fleischer, 1983)
The Amityville Curse (Berry, 1990)
Amityville 1992: It's About Time (Randel, 1992)
Amityville: A New Generation (Murlowski, 1993)
Amityville Dollhouse (White, 1996)
The Amityville Horror (Douglas, 2005)
Amityville: The Awakening (Khalfoun, 2017)

No comments:

Post a Comment