Sandor Stern, 1989
Starring: Patty Duke, Jane Wyatt, Fredric Lehne
Six priests perform an exorcism on the Amityville house. One priest, the young Father Kibbler, is knocked unconscious by a demonic entity who seems to reside in an ugly old lamp. After the exorcism, a yard sale is held and an old lady buys the lamp and sends it to her sister in California. She accidentally scratches her hand on the lamp and dies of an infection soon after. Her sister adores the lamp, but a number of bizarre things begin to happen. Her newly widowed daughter and three grandchildren have just moved in. The youngest becomes obsessed with the lamp, convinced that it holds the spirit of her dead father. Household appliances begin to act strangely and a number of nasty accidents and deaths occur around the house. Father Kibbler, learning of the lamp’s location, hurries across country to the house in order to do battle with the demonic lamp one last time.
Directed by Sandor Stern (Pin), who worked on the original Amityville Horror script, The Evil Escapes is oddly an improvement over the dreadfully boring Amityville 3-D. This made-for-TV effort was not really intended to be a direct sequel to 3-D and just kind of picks up randomly with no real connection to the first three films. The remaining four sequels would follow this pattern, which began in 3-D. Unlike the others, The Evil Escapes is based on a book from the Amityville series.
What an absurd idea. A possessed lamp? It’s worthy of the scene from Evil Dead II when the objects in the cabin seem to become possessed. The campiness in Amityville 4 is surely accidental, which will either come across as endearing or irritating. The opening exorcism is pretty funny and Amityville 4 completely ignores the fact that the house was blown up at the end of Amityville 3. A number of elements are recycled from the earlier films. As with Amityville Horror and Amityville II, when a priest arrives to the house to try to warn them about the lamp, he is struck physically ill and must run outside to vomit. Like Amityville 3, the ending is absolutely hilarious. After a strenuous exorcism, the priest just throws the damned lamp out the window and it somehow falls so far that it winds up wrecked upon the beach. Of course, evil doesn't die, and the possession passed from the lamp to the family cat, which is last seen with glowing, demonic eyes.
As with The Amityville Horror and the second film, everyone has trouble with the phone. Actually, the lamp’s evil spreads to MANY OTHER HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES. Cue dramatic music. The deaths involve strangulation by lamp cord, a hand eviscerated in the garbage disposal, and someone is covered in the horrible black ooze first seen in The Amityville Horror. There’s a pretty amazing scene involving a run away chainsaw, and anyone who enters the house to do cleaning or repair work has a pretty bad time of it. Every animal in the house hates the lamp, while the youngest daughter stares at it with a rapt fascination that becomes incredibly creepy.
The acting is, again, better than Amityville 3 and there are some surprising faces here. Bizarrely Patty Duke (The Patty Duke Show, The Swarm, Valley of the Dolls) co-stars and does a decent job as the frustrated grandmother. Father Kibbler (that name...) is the recognizable Fredric Lehne (Con Air, Firefly). There are some Star Trek actors, such as Aron Eisenberg (Deep Space Nine) and Jane Wyatt (original series). The performances are decent, but no one, not even Patty Duke, can get past the absolutely ridiculous script.
If you’re feeling bold, or if you just like absolute trash, you can find Amityville 4: The Evil Lamp Escapes on DVD. It’s probably worth watching at least once for fans of ridiculous ‘80s horror, because, I’ll say it again, the star of the film is a demonically possessed lamp.