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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Supernatural > Amityville Horror Collection Giftset (MGM DVDs)

Amityville Horror Collection (MGM Region 1)


The Amityville Horror (1979)

Picture: B     Sound: B+     Extras: B-     Film: B


Amityville 2 (1982) & 3 (aka 3-D aka The Demon, 1983):

Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: D     Films: B-


Amityville Confidential:

Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Film: B



MGM has finally gotten around to bringing the first three Amityville films onto DVD here in the U.S., and have timed their release to coincide with the revamp of the Amityville Horror’s push into theaters.  While it is nice to have these available stateside, I did have my share of problems with how the sequels were presented for this release.  In my other reviews on this site, you’ll notice that I favored the U.K. editions put out by Sanctuary Entertainment over the latter two films in this set.  While the editions presented here are serviceable, and probably more than enough for the average viewer, they lack any noteworthy special features.  There is also the problem of not fulfilling many DVD addict’s desires by making some unusual audio choices and offering up only mild picture quality.  I’ll get into these issues later on in the review, but for now I’ll concentrate on the first and best of the discs here - 1979’s The Amityville Horror.


I believe that this is the same disc as the one included with MGM’s U.K. 2-disc set - the second disc of said set is actually the fourth one included here - Amityville Confidential.  I imagine that the print included on this newer disc is an improvement over the edition previously released in the states, but I have not seen that one to know for sure.  It was released a few years back; and like part 2 and 3 here, included both widescreen and 1.33 X 1 pan & scan full screen presentations.  The version here includes both a new 5.1 surround sound mix, as well as the original mono track.  Collectors should be pleased to own this disc, though some may be wary of the others included here for various reasons.


The film itself is a decent one, and may or may not deserve to be considered classic - a lot of it just doesn’t work for modern audiences.  Like all of the Amityville movies, it can induce yawns now and then, yet many fans somehow find ways to forgive this.  Concerning the Lutz family who has just recently moved into their new home, the film recounts the possibly true story of a house possessed by... something... for some reason.  No matter who is telling the story, or what side they take, the tale will always be full of gaping holes.  Even in the individual films, things often become a confused mess - making it hard to tell exactly what’s supposed to be going on in this place.  The short and easy version of the story is that the house is plain evil, and that’s all you’ll ever need to know.


Out of all three movies here, this is the only one with any real special features, such as audio commentary, theatrical trailer, radio spots and a short TV-length documentary.  I was at first happy to hear of the inclusion of a commentary track, and hoped it would be as good as those included on Sanctuary’s editions of parts 2 and 3.  However, after listening to it, I was sorely disappointed.  It’s provided by Dr. Hans Holzer - author of the book on which Amityville II was based, and after about five minutes in, you’ll be wishing physical harm upon him in the worst way.  All he ever talks about here are how true the events were, and never really elaborates far beyond that.  His relentless insistence becomes annoying beyond words, and you’ll have to hear it to believe it.  It would’ve been spectacular if they had gotten Stephen Jones and Kim Newman in for this, but I suppose that MGM was trying to give their editions a more serious tone, however ridiculous it may seem in the end.


Amityville II: The Possession is a rip-off of a few varied horror films, but its main steal is from movies like The Exorcist.  You can see bits and pieces of other films floating about here or there, but none of that matters in the end, as its all just for fun; and to the filmmakers, there was no prize to be won for originality.  While some people consider this to be the best of the series, I more or less see these films as being even with one another, and no clear winner to speak of.  To be more than fair, none of them ever even try to rise above mediocrity, so just enjoy what you’ve got and all should be well.  The film is presented in anamorphically enhanced widescreen, as well again as 1.33 X 1 pan & scan full screen versions.  The print is good, but is still outdone by Sanctuary’s release, which happens to be mastered just a tad better in my opinion. Strangely, this film lacks a 5.1 remix, and only includes the original 2.0 mono. Why they couldn’t be bothered acquiring one is beyond me, as they went to the trouble of having them for the first and third installments. This is yet another reason that many home theater owners should consider acquiring the Sanctuary version, which includes both 2.0 stereo and a 5.1 remix. As for extras, the only thing you’ll find is a theatrical trailer.


Amityville 3-D is more than just a little bit misleading, and I’m not too happy about their titling choice.  Despite having stickers placed on all copies, warning that the movie is not actually in 3-D, there will still doubtlessly be those who are disappointed to find that the movie is presented flat, and only flat.  Why they couldn’t have simply released it under the title of Amityville 3: The Demon, as it is also known, is far beyond me.  While there were those disappointed with some aspects of the picture quality on both the flat and 3-D versions of the Sanctuary collector’s edition, it is noticeably worse here.  Since it was filmed using a 3-D process, lots of movement can come off as blurry and indescript.  It’s all right, but still doesn’t stack up, as it should. Like Part 2, this movie comes with both anamorphic widescreen and 1.33 X 1 full screen transfers.  Also like that disc, it includes only one audio mix, this time being a 5.1 remix with no original audio track included.  I was really disappointed here, and sadly, the only extra is a short trailer.


The special bonus disc, Amityville Confidential, features a couple of History Channel documentaries on the real-life Amityville house.  These can be fun, but be mindful that some of the information is repeated over the two of them.  I personally believe the curse or haunting to be a hoax, but those who feel otherwise might get more enjoyment from these features.  There is also a look into the new film seen on this disc, but it is pretty short, and those looking into this set just for the older films might find it next to useless.  It really only serves as a tie-in to the new feature, and a way of getting ticket sales up.  The first batch of this set even included a free pass to see the film in theaters as a boost to the overall box office; but those coupons have since expired, and MGM has begun issuing the newer editions without the passes included.


Overall, this set is a decent one, and one that I might have commended had better versions not already been introduced.  I didn’t find much use for the set-exclusive fourth disc, and the latter two films in here really pale when you place them alongside Sanctuary’s editions.  Those include such luxuries as each containing 5 lobby cards, thick and informative booklets, plus other extras.  The wisest choice as far as I see it: pick up the new MGM Region 1 Amityville Horror and compliment it with the collector’s editions of the sequels provided by Sanctuary.  You will need a player that supports PAL-NTSC conversion, but many newer players already feature this.  If interested, you can check online to make sure that yours is compatible.  For more information on those sets, please refer to their individual reviews found elsewhere on this site.



-   David Milchick


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