After the dismal failure of Amityville 3-D the house on Ocean Avenue and its demons were relegated to low-budget made for television movies. That remained the case for the next 15 years actually. Amityville: The Evil Escapes (or Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes) aired on NBC on May 12, 1989. I was weeks away from graduating high school and you can bet your ass I was parked in front of the television ready for some fly-covered terror.
In the late 80s the Amityville franchise was kept alive by a man named John G. Jones who wrote a series of books expanding the universe beyond the Lutz’s story. One of those books, Amityville: The Evil Escapes, provided the seed for several direct to video features loosely based on the evil that lurks in Amityville. You can read my review of it here. The concept that objects from the home were cursed and would bring misfortune to anyone who happened upon them allowed the series to venture far from Long Island and confines of 112 Ocean Avenue. I like to call these the Garage Sale series.
This month, Vinegar Syndrome brings these movies back in glorious hi-def in a gorgeous collector’s set called Amityville: The Cursed Collection. The set includes Amityville: The Evil Escapes, Amityville 1992: It’s About Time, Amityville: A New Generation and Amityville Dollhouse. Each disc has a 4k restoration, bonus features including cast/crew interviews and reversible cover art.
I had these movies on standard DVD and the transfers were mostly terrible, so I haven’t watched them in years. I’m anxious to relive The Garage Sale series and will certainly review them here. With Halloween on Thursday I know what I’ll be doing this week.
The late 1980s were a vast empty wasteland for Amityville fans. It had been five long years since the last film, Amityville 3-D, which hadn’t been very good and didn’t do well at the box office. It had also been three years since a book about the house had been released. I’m sure the current owners were happy about that but I was NOT! All Hail John G Jones, the official “chronicler of the horror” who answered our prayers with the next installment in the series, 1988’s Amityville: The Evil Escapes.
This wasn’t Jones’s first dip in the Amityville well. He also wrote The Amityville Horror 2, Amityville: The Final Chapter and Amityville: The Horror Returns, all books about the Lutzes and their ongoing ordeal and all touted as non-fiction. I can see why his publisher annointed him the Official Chronicler of the Horror. Even Hans Holzer only had 3 books under his belt on the story by then, and he had actually investigated the house in an offical capacity. All signs point to Jones being a pseudonym, some even suspecting that DeFeo lawyer William Weber wrote these books. I don’t believe that, but whoever Jones is certainly he has certainly made a career out of writing about Amityville.
This installment is his first to leave the Lutzes and look at the effect the house had on the community of Amityville through short stories that touch on various items acquired during the estate sale that followed the Lutzs sudden departure in February of 1976. In the foreword Jones tells us that the stories that follow have been fictionalized for dramatic effect but that there is “some truth here”. Tudor Publishing classifies this as non-fiction but I suspect that the only truth in these 420 pages is that an estate sale was held and that items were sold but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun right?