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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > 3-D > Amityville 3-D (Region Zero/PAL)

Amityville 3-D (Sanctuary PAL Set)


PLEASE NOTE: This is a DVD that can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs set for Region Zero and the PAL format, and can be ordered from our friends at Xploited Cinema through their website:




They have this and hundreds of other great, usually very hard to get titles that are often long overdo to his the U.S. DVD market.  Be sure to visit their site for more details on that as well.




Picture: B-/B     Sound: B     Extras: A    Film: B-



One of my old weekend rituals was to watch Big Chuck and Lil' John on Fox 8 out of Cleveland.  It's been a few years since I've been able to watch, and when I did, it was often a battle between me and my TV antenna.  On the nights when I was able to win over half-decent reception, I could kick back and delight to a midnight showing of a campy horror movie, interspersed with cheap comedy sketches during breaks in the main program.  Other genres were shown as well, but those movies often failed to grab me in the same way that Freddy Krueger and the like once did.  Haunted house movies never really got to me much either, yet among the stack of tapes I recorded of the show, Amityville: The Demon still resides there.  It hasn't gotten very many repeat viewings from me, but there's always been some hidden charm there to keep me from taping over it.  So when I came across it while perusing through the titles over at X-Ploited Cinema, I thought of it as a great opportunity to see the film in 3-D as it was intended; as well as grab a much cleaner (not to mention widescreen) print in the process.


When it arrived, I was delighted to see the beautiful packaging that was bestowed onto this edition - not only does it include two pair of 3-D specs, but there are 5 lobby cards, each of them a print of a scene from the film.  I was almost giddy with the prospect of getting to see this in the third dimension, so that was naturally the first version to make its way to my player (there is a disc for the regular version, and one for the Anaglyph format).  Sadly, it wasn't dark enough outside yet, so there was no luck in getting the effect to work - I had to wait a few more hours.  In the meantime, I decided to check out the regular edition found on the first disc.  The print is in great shape for its age, except for what seems to be a blur around certain objects that almost went unnoticed.  Aside from that, the color feels a little bit muted - but that's to be expected from the film stock of this period.  When it was finally dark enough inside and out, I did my best to calibrate my TV set to optimize the 3-D effect.  The documentation included states that it is best to view the movie on a computer with a DVD-ROM drive.  Unfortunately, I currently don't have access to one, so I had to make due with what was on hand.


Keep in mind that this release is in PAL format, rather than NTSC - so if your DVD player can't decode the signal to your TV correctly, you won't be able to view this movie.  My one DVD player, a Pioneer DV-260, has a built in PAL decoder, so that wasn't a problem.  However, since NTSC has about 100 fewer lines than PAL or SECAM, I am losing a little of the information, and getting decreased picture quality when compared to a 625 line TV.  The scanning type is also different, but too technical to get into here.  Add all of this together with my older model television, and the effect isn't going to come through as well as it should be.  To put it simply - it didn't work for me, though our demo on a new digital High Definition Runco video project calibrated correctly gave us impressive results.  I gave it a lot of time to kick in and tried several methods, but nothing was coming through for me.  That's not saying that it won't work for everyone - a few other reviewers for this site watched it before I had access to it, and they had little to no trouble getting the 3-D to work properly on their equipment.  I wouldn't let that deter anyone from trying this out, if it doesn't work out for you, you still have a regular edition of the film to watch, and an interesting conversation piece to try out on someone else's setup.  This is only one of two films that used Arri’s ArriScope ArriVision 3-D system (along with Jaws 3-D), but the format was quickly shelved, though this looks great when it works.  This includes flies, shards of glass and some other surprises we will save for the viewer.


Now, on to the movie itself... it can be a little disappointing to know that this movie was released after Poltergeist came out - as this exudes a late 70's vibe, and lacks the visual and storytelling punch that the aforementioned film had.  Then again, this is more of a classic bump-in-the-night haunted house picture, with a few exceptions that give hint to the time in which it was made.  There's a very classy feel carried throughout - this can be attributed to the fact that Richard Fleischer was on as director.  He's had an impressive array of titles under his helming - 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Fantastic Voyage, The Vikings and Soylent Green (reviewed elsewhere on this site) among the notables.  So with that, he seems an odd choice to have on for a movie made to showcase a gimmick and cash in on a short-lived fad.  But I see him as a bit of insurance, so that the story is carried well enough and that there is more substance, rather than nothing but a barrage of objects shoved up to the camera lens.  He succeeds well and keeps the pace moving along - though everything does come to a close quite abruptly at the end.  But you can definitely tell that he was involved - there's a certain air about the whole thing that harks back to his earlier works.


The double set comes with the two versions of the film in anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 versions on DVD, 2-D and 3-D.  Both were shot by cinematographer Fred Schuler, who delivers some great trick shots for the audience to enjoy.  The film is much better in 3-D and Fleischer was a good choice to do this.  The print shows some age, but is in good shape for the most part.  The 3-D overrides the definition limits of DVD somewhat on the best monitors and projectors.


The sound on this set is good, and has been newly remastered in both stereo and in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.  The audio commentary on here is great and is provided by two movie critics - Stephen Jones and Kim Newman.  Neither is directly connected with the filmmaking process, but both have an excellent knowledge of this film from an outsider's point of view.  They're highly enjoyable to listen to, and dispense a lot of knowledge on this and other titles that are related to it.  If a commentary track for the film is used in the upcoming Amityville box-set in the U.S., I doubt that this will be the one to find its way there; despite it possibly being more fun than the movie itself.  On the track, they mention doing the commentary for Part II earlier that day - so to hear the full thing; you'll have to pick up that release as well.


There are still other extras to be found - but nothing too exciting.  The best of them is the booklet that is included.  In it, you'll find information on the series of films, along with original promotional material from its release.  There's also an extensive photo gallery - but I don't really see too many people leafing through it on the DVD.  Lastly, you'll also find some cast and crew bios on there.  These may be of use to some people, but I have trouble sitting in front of my set for too long and reading those kinds of things.


After all is said and done, I can still highly recommend this title to almost anyone for numerous reasons.  Horror fans should be delighted that this is finally available in a 3-D print for purchase.  It's highly doubtful that the American version will include that with the set that's on the way.  Even if they did, it'd still be missing this commentary and the great packaging that Sanctuary has provided - all these little details add up to one excellent product that I'd be glad to buy.  Aside from that, the movie itself is good, and a classic example of a fun horror movie – despite swiping material from several other franchises and repeating various things from its own.  I also feel that people who don't usually dive into the horror genre will still find themselves enjoying this movie to some degree, as it feels older than it actually is, and doesn't feature sex or binge on gore.


If you're interested in purchasing a copy, we recommend checking out

X-Ploited Cinema.  You'll find their site again at www.xploitedcinema.com as noted above.  As a fan of all types of unusual and hard to find movies, I was amazed at the selection that they offered.  You'll hopefully be seeing more reviews covering their catalogue in the future, and I personally encourage you to explore the site on your own and feel things out for yourself, as they have movies for many tastes and styles.  Most titles offered there are foreign releases, and won't work on American players - so keep that in mind when browsing their stock.  Hope you have as much fun looking as I did.



-   David Milchick


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