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Amityville Dollhouse
(1996)
 

Director: Steve White                                                      
Cast:
Robin Thomas, Starr Andreff


Why, why, why do they keep going on with this? I've never liked any of the entries of this series. After part 2, I stopped renting the series, seeing no hope for any improvement. The few others in the series I've seen since on TV have been just as bad, maybe even worse. This one was on cable recently, and in a deranged moment, I decided to check it out. I thought maybe, just maybe, they got it right this time. Or the very least, made it bad enough to provide enough unintentional humor. Wrong wrong WRONG. The only good thing about seeing this movie is that it has come in handy as a token movie a la my dealing with Albert Pyun (Omega Doom) - namely, now that I've reviewed one of a terrible series of movies, I'll never have to bring up any of the rest of the series here again!

This is a movie where you simply have to go into detail about the plot to show just how bad it is. Perhaps realizing they exhausted the original Amityville house (and now knowing that the so-called events the Lutz family went through were revealed to be false), Amityville Dollhouse takes place in another house, at the opposite side of the United States. This is the story of a man named Bill, who was bringing up two very lovely kids, teenage son Todd and a young daughter whose name I didn't catch. Bill's just married Claire, who has a wimpy son named Jim who only has a white mouse as a friend. They move into a new house Bill has built around the surviving chimney of a house previously on the property that burned down. (Groan.) Also on the lot is the previous house's tool shed, which Bill seems never to have previously gone into while the house was being built. (Bigger groan.) Opening the tool shed, Bill finds a Amityville-styled dollhouse in it, and thinks nothing of the obvious voodoo dolls in a box inside the dollhouse. (Even bigger groan.) Wow, he thinks, this dusty old dollhouse and these white fabric dolls with black stitch "X" eyes would make a swell birthday present for my daughter. (An even bigger groan!) He takes the dollhouse out of the shed and into the garage, somehow missing the framed newspaper clipping on the wall behind the dollhouse stating in big letters, FAMILY BURNS IN HOUSE FIRE - Deranged Father Prime Suspect In Arson. (GROAN!!!!!)

Who put that newspaper clipping in the shed? And why? How did the dollhouse survive the fire and find itself covered with a drop cloth in the tool shed? What about the origins of the dollhouse - who made it for what purpose? None of these are answered - after all, horror fans just want juicy stuff and not logic, right? And not explaining things in a horror movie, such as Michael Meyer's motives in the first Halloween movie (until the sequel) makes things more spooky, right? That's probably what the filmmakers thought, because I can't even see them thinking that the subsequent events in the movie are the least bit scary. The automatic fireplace turns itself on! (Yow!) Someone sees someone's feet sticking out behind a corner - but it's just a pair of shoes not being worn! (Eek!) A car's brakes fail in a garage, and run over a parked bike! (Aaah!) A gust of wind blows open a window! (Ee-yow!) Two people are attacked by a wasp! (Save me now!) There's a tarantula in the piņata! (Teeth chattering! - even though tarantulas aren't poisonous to humans, no matter what Hollywood tells you.)

I guess it could be said that eventually the filmmakers do attempt to put in some juicy stuff, but it ends up like adding water to a breakfast bowl full of shredded newspapers. Jim's dead rotting father returns from the grave and urges his son to kill his new family, but he doesn't seem that scary or menacing, so it's no wonder that Jim doesn't seem to be that concerned. When Jim's mouse crawls in the dollhouse and under a doll bed, a giant mouse appears under his sister's bed, though the giant mouse looks almost like a roll of white shag carpet. Claire starts to have mysterious sexual urges when she sees stepson Todd, but not only is this not further explored (dammit!), but this subplot soon gets dropped and never brought up again. The mysterious fireplace graphically catches Todd's girlfriend on fire, but the impact of this scene is ruined by the constant cuts back to Todd in the next room making drinks (somehow not hearing her screams or smelling anything burning.) And if there ever is a showdown between goodness and pure evil sometime in the future, I doubt it will be resolved with baseball bats and a fist fight.

Everything about this movie is boring, when it's not groan inducing. The actors show some likeability, but they seemed so pained to be on the set, that there is hardly any enthusiasm. Young son Jim is given dialogue that you wouldn't expect a nine year old to say ("He didn't hurt [my mouse] - he killed him. There's a notable difference."), and Bill is made into a happy-go-lucky fellow saying cute phrases like, "My motto is: if it's broken, fix it!" Why then should the actors give a damn about making believable characters when their characters are written to be so idiotic? White doesn't even try to give Amityville Dollhouse any visual flair. The standard "it's only a dream" scenes (yes, there's more than one of those here, showing a bankruptcy in imagination) are so badly directed, we know from the start they are dreams. So why should we feel frightened, or even a little empathy for the dreamers? Even the new house looks boring, smack dab in the middle of a dry dusty lot with no other houses around. And 95% of the movie takes place at or around this house.

It's interesting to note all the unsuccessful movies that have been made using the word "doll" in their titles. Dolly Dearest, Dolls (1983) , Dolls (1987), Dollman (by hack auteur Albert Pyun), and Dollman vs. Demonic Toys. (Maybe Hello Dolly! wasn't a bad movie, but it was a box office flop.) We can now add Amityville Dollhouse to that list. All these movies were made by male filmmakers, which goes to show that the rule you learned in childhood is true: Men aren't supposed to play with dolls.

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)
Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)
Check Amazon for original novel "The Amityville Horror"
Check Amazon for book revealing the hoax of "The Amityville Horror"

See also: The Black Room, Clownhouse, Don't Go In The House

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