Amityville Dollhouse (1996)


This is a portal!”
“It’s a portal? It’s the welcome mat to Hell!”


Director:  Steve White

Starring:  Robin Thomas, Starr Andreeff, Allen Cutler, Jarrett Lennon, Rachel Duncan, Lenore Kasdorf, Franc Ross, Lisa Robin Kelly, Clayton Murray

Screenplay:  Joshua Michael Stern




Synopsis:  The newly-blended Martin family arrives at the house that Bill (Robin Thomas) has spent ten months building in an isolated spot in California. Young Jessica (Rachel Duncan) is excited about her new home, but her teenage brother, Todd (Allen Cutler), and the pair’s new step-brother, Jimmy (Jarrett Lennon), stubbornly refuse to be happy or enthusiastic. Inside, Bill points out to Claire (Starr Andreeff), his wife, the fireplace that was the only surviving feature of the house originally on that site, which burnt down. He demonstrates the gas system he has installed to control it. At that moment, the moving vans arrive, and Bill and Claire hurry outside. As soon as they have gone, the fire puts itself out… Later, Bill persuades Todd to explain his miserable mood: the boy reluctantly reveals that his mother failed to phone him, as she promised, and that he believes she is ashamed of him. Todd adds that he misses it being just him and his father, and that he doesn’t like how everything has changed since Bill’s marriage. Bill finally extracts a promise that Todd will try to get along with Jimmy. The two go outside to practice passing, but are interrupted by Todd’s girlfriend, Dana (Lisa Robin Kelly), who has just gotten her driver’s licence. The two take off. Bill, meanwhile, decides to finally investigate the locked shed at the back of his property. Inside, amongst the usual debris, Bill finds elaborately framed and mounted insect collections, as well as a large and impressive dollhouse. Thinking that Jessica might like it, once it’s been cleaned, Bill carries it up to the garage. He fails to notice the newspaper clippings that its removal from the shed reveals, which describe the circumstances of the deadly fire that destroyed the house once standing on that land… That night, Jessica confesses to her father that she has been thinking of all the different places they’ve lived since her mother left, and how tired of moving she is. Bill promises that from now on, they’re not going anywhere. Meanwhile, Claire is also having problems with Jimmy, who complains about everything to do with their new situation, but above all Claire’s marriage. He speaks wistfully of his own father, a soldier who was killed in action. That night, as the family sleeps, out in the garage the dollhouse suddenly lights up, and smoke begins to curl from its chimney. At the same moment, inside the real house, the artificial fireplace lights itself. Some time later, Bill and Claire awake, soaked in sweat. A sleepy Bill stumbles downstairs, turning off the fireplace before going to the garage to inspect the fuse-box. However, when he emerges the fireplace is let again, and he is unable to turn it off. Exasperated, he slumps onto a couch and dozes off, dreaming that Jessica is calling for his help from inside the fireplace… Inside the garage, the dollhouse lights up again: the Martins’ car rolls forward on its own, crushing the bicycle intended as Jessica present for her birthday, which is the next day. Finding the wreckage, and left with little choice, Bill hurriedly cleans and wraps the dollhouse. Jessica loves her present, but her aunt, Marla (Lenore Kasdorf) and uncle Tobias (Franc Ross) exchange worried looks, especially when Jessica finds inside the house a wooden box filled with tiny cloth dolls. Jessica’s party is a success until a practical joke played by Todd on the arachnophobic Jimmy goes horribly wrong: somehow, in place of the rubber spider hidden in the piñata, a real tarantula falls out – an incident that ends with Jimmy near-hysterical and Todd, protesting his innocence, grounded by his infuriated father. Later, at the bookstore they own, Marla and Tobias worriedly discuss the dollhouse, from which both of them felt disturbing vibrations. That night, as Jessica lies in bed, she cringes at the sound of Bill and Todd fighting, then stares in amazement as the windows of her dollhouse slide open on their own – while in Todd’s room, too, the windows fly open, letting in a howling gale…

Comments:  I’ve found something nice to say about all the other Amityville sequels—not always much, granted, but something—but I’m struggling with Amityville Dollhouse, which pretty much redefines “pointless”. I’ve accused other entries in this franchise of being twisted into sequels that were never meant to be, but this one goes beyond that into a realm where it feels like the director didn’t know he was supposed to be making an Amityville sequel.

Ultimately, there’s only one good thing about this film:


But even that can’t save the film that contains it, chiefly because of the odd dislocation between title and subject. Watching Amityville Dollhouse, you get the distinct impression that the people involved in making it weren’t on speaking terms with one another.

There are, for instance, what I take to be references to the earlier films all the way through – we’ve got a little girl as the main supernatural “witness” from Part 1; the portal from Parts 1, 2 and 3; the red eyes from Part 1; the incest from Part 2 (ick!); the possessed headphones from Parts 2 and 6; the misbehaving appliances from Part 4; the gruesome end to attempted teenage sex from Part 6; strange things in a mirror from Parts 5, 6 and 7; and a concluding, fleeing-the-house scene filmed just like the original’s – yet you don’t really feel that they’re meant to be references, if that makes sense. My guess is that screenwriter Joshua Martin put those touches in as nods to the audience – or as a desperate attempt to link this film with the franchise it’s theoretically a part of – but that director Steve White didn’t even recognise them for what they were.

For the record, the “A” word is never mentioned in this film. Nor is it ever clear whether the house originally on the Martins’ land, the house that burned down, was supposed to be the house, of which the dollhouse is a model – that is, not the house, obviously, but its west-coast cousin, since we’re in California – or whether the dollhouse is itself supposed to be a source of evil, either on its own (which would follow on from the premise of Parts 4, 6 and 7) or because it looks like you-know-what.

And speaking of which, either the Martins are supposed to be the only people in America who don’t know what that house looks like, or this film is taking place in a different cinematic universe from its predecessors, and none of the other events ever happened.

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“It’s only a model.”

Which brings us back to “pointless”.

It’s never a good sign when a film’s opening credits are its best scene, but so it is here, as they play over night-time shots of the dollhouse, whose windows light up on their own. From there, it’s downhill all the way as we meet the Martins, who are discovering that life as a blended family isn’t everything the Bradys cracked it up to be. Bill is a divorcé with a teenage son, Todd, and a pre-teen daughter, Jessica. Claire is the widow of a soldier killed on active duty, whose son, Jimmy, sits midway between his step-siblings.

Todd is a jock, who establishes himself as a dickwad of the first order from the instant he opens his mouth. Jimmy is an Uber-Geek. I think you can figure out where this is going. Bill has spent ten months building a house for his new family, but Todd refuses to do more than glower and grunt, while Jimmy just wants to know if it’s up to code.

The astonishing thing here is that Bill never starts having a meaningful relationship with his axe, like in Part 1.

Sensibly ignoring these two incredible tools—I mean, these two cherished children whom he obviously adores, Bill carries Claire inside and shows her the fireplace, the only part of the original house left standing after the fire – mwoo-ha-ha! – which he has restored and converted to gas. Upstairs, during an extended exchange of insults, Jimmy makes the mistake of letting Todd know that he’s arachnophobic. Todd wanders down to the garage where Bill is fiddling with the fuses and reveals that at least some of his sulks are because his mother “forgot” to phone him again. Bill tries to sooth him and make excuses, but Todd isn’t having any. “The truth is, she’s ashamed of me. She can’t stand being around me, and you know it.”

Sometimes it’s the parents who need to be emancipated.

And frankly, all of six minutes into this film, my sympathies are all with Mom.

Todd then whines about the living arrangements and how he liked it when was just him and Bill (uh, and Jessica? your little sister, remember?); and in perhaps the film’s most credible moment, having drawn his father away from his work so that they can spend some time together, Todd then ditches him without a backward glance when his girlfriend Dana shows up.

Dana, by the way, is played by Lisa Robin Kelly, who will later show her boobs in an interrupted sex scene – which seems to be the only reason anyone else has ever watched or talked about this film. (Oh, except for the estimable Greywizard, who’s too classy even to mention that moment.)

Bill, meanwhile, decides to cut the padlock off the toolshed at the edge of his property and look inside: something it evidently never occurred to him to do during those ten months he was building the house. (I wonder where he kept his tools?)

Immediately, we hear odd, breathing-like noises, but so faintly the suddenly ominous soundtrack nearly drowns them out. Bill looks around and outside in a puzzled way, and we see he has a (completely fake-looking) nose-bleed; a touch that will recur later with no particular explanation. Inside the shed, we notice an insect motif (wasps basically stand in for flies all through this, don’t ask me why), and then Bill discovers the dollhouse under a tarp.

Nothing bonds a father and son like an old-fashioned shed opening.

Rightly impressed, he picks it up and carries it up to the garage, not noticing the newspaper clippings about the fatal fire that destroyed the original property and killed the occupants stuck up on the shed wall behind it, a photograph showing the fireplace standing alone amongst the charred ruins.

Okay, I’ll bite: if the previous occupants were all killed in the fire (or arrested), who put up those clippings? And who locked the dollhouse in the shed? AND WHY DIDN’T BILL UNLOCK THE SHED ANY TIME IN THE PAST TEN MONTHS??

That night, Jessica – who is about the only likeable person in this film – confesses to her father that she’s tired of moving around, as they have done repeatedly since her mother left. Bill gives her a hug and promises that this is it, they won’t be going anywhere.

Ho, ho.

Meanwhile, Jimmy is giving Todd a run for his money in the self-pitying-whining stakes, telling his mother how much he hates everything, including Bill, and how much he misses his father. Claire sensibly lets most of this wash by, and after everyone settles down for the night, some extremely boring supernatural events take place: self-lighting fireplace, a couple of false scares (one a dream), yada-yada. In the garage, the dollhouse lights up by itself, and immediately the Martins’ car starts and rolls forward, crushing the bike intended as a present for Jessica’s birthday the next day. Mwoo-ha-ha!

Seems reasonable.

An agreeably nasty moment does follow – typically for this film, in entirely real-world terms – when Jessica’s mother phones her daughter for her birthday, but hangs up when Todd asks to speak to her. (“She had to go,” explains Jessica complacently.) Bill and Claire discover the wrecked bike, Bill concluding that he must have forgotten the parking-brake. With Jessica’s party imminent, the two decide that they’ll have to substitute the dollhouse as the present, and Bill gets to work cleaning it up.

Jessica’s party gets under way, with Todd and Jimmy locked in a gruelling battle to see which of them can most ruin it for everybody. Things do liven up a little with the arrival of Marla, Bill’s occult-bookstore-owning-herbalist sister, and Tobias, Marla’s occult-bookstore-owning-herbalist-biker boyfriend. Jessica unwraps her present, and while she goes into raptures over it, Marla and Tobias exchange worried looks – particularly when Jessica finds inside the dollhouse a carved wooden box filled with a clutch of small cloth dolls.

Now, Todd hasn’t been a jerk for nearly thirty seconds, so obviously that situation has to be rectified. Given the task of filling the piñata, Todd slips a rubber spider inside with the candy, then looks on with an evil grin as Jimmy cracks the thing open with a baseball bat. The contents pour out all over him – including what is now a very large and very definitely real spider.

Okay, since they went to the trouble of establishing Jimmy as arachnophobic, I won’t do my usual sigh-disgustedly-and-roll-my-eyes routine here as he goes into hysterics.

(Just the same— The spider is a tarantula, and it is gorgeous.)


In a flurry of reaction, Tobias flicks the spider away from Jimmy and stomps on it (it is reassuringly intact afterwards), Jimmy whacks Todd on the shin with the baseball bat, and Bill sends Todd to his room, grounding him for a month despite his unavailing protests about rubber spiders. And then Jessica gets sick.

Families. God love ’em.

It is Marla who takes care of Jessica, while glancing apprehensively at the dollhouse, now ensconced in Jessica’s room, and suggesting that perhaps it might be better kept elsewhere. Jessica won’t hear of it, however. Bill confesses to Marla that he’s been “having dreams again”, as he did when he was a boy, and Marla responds with a not very helpful parting warning about the general fragility of his new family. Back at their bookstore, Marla and Tobias agree that the dollhouse is a danger, and Tobias settles in to do some research.

Back at the house, more boring spooky hijinks break up Bill’s lecturing of Todd. As Jessica watches the windows of her dollhouse open by themselves, the windows of Todd’s room likewise fly open, letting in a blast of air and a lot of dirt and general debris. In his own room, Jimmy his putting “his only friend”, a white mouse called Max, through a maze (some way to treat your friend). He looks away when Claire comes in to say goodnight, and when he looks back, Max has done a runner (and who can blame him?).

The interesting members of the family.

He then shows up in Jessica’s room; and in the most enjoyable – and best-acted – bit of the film, as an extremely well-trained mouse (or mice) runs into the dollhouse and climbs the staircases to the bedroom on the top floor, which Jessica suddenly realised is furnished exactly like her own room. Max runs under the dollhouse-bed, and instantly, something huge and white with a scaly tail runs under Jessica’s bed, bumping it up in the air.

Jessica screams, and it is Todd who responds, kneeling down to investigate when she insists, “It’s under the bed!” – and being confronted by two glowing red eyes. With a cry of alarm, Todd throws himself backwards, slamming into the dollhouse and knocking it off its table. Bill, Claire and Jimmy then arrive – with the latter discovering Max lying dead in the dollhouse. Of course. Because this is a genre film. And I am watching it. So an animal has to die.

Stop it. Okay? Just – stop it.

And congratulations, film, you’ve almost succeeded in making me feel sorry for Todd, blamed for the latest disaster when for once he was doing the right thing. My momentary sympathy dies the next instant, however, when upon Jessica confessing to her big brother that she’s scared, he turns his back on her and walks away. Ah! – now, that’s the Todd we know and despise. And as Jessica stares into the dollhouse, something begins to ooze from under the locked door of its one sealed room; the room with the eye-windows, natch.

Scariest bouncing bed scene since Seytan!

Bill tries to make peace with Jimmy, but to no avail. Bill gives up, closing the bedroom door as he goes – behind which we find lurking Jimmy’s father.

Oh, of course! – that’s what this franchise has been lacking! – wisecracking zombies!!

And, good lord, we’re not actually referencing Zombie Lake here, are we!? – because just like his Euro-horror predecessor, upon being confronted by his green-faced, uniformed, clearly undead father, Jimmy reacts by first looking mildly puzzled…and then smiling.

And also according to precedent, the two of them then sit down together to do some serious father-child bonding, with Jimmy complaining that he hates his life (oh, that’s a great thing to say to a zombie!), and Undead Dad warning him that Bill is trying to take Claire away from him. The two of them agree that the situation will be kept from Claire and just be their little secret; and then Undead Dad departs by way of Jimmy’s closet, pausing for a moment first to suggest that just maybe, Bill should go the way of Max…

And then things get seriously icky – even ickier than the goopy deposit Jimmy just found on the door of his closet – as, while Bill and Claire make love, suddenly Claire can’t take her eyes off a photograph of Todd with his shirt off that’s sitting on their dresser…


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“Oh, Dad! It’s so great having someone I can discuss my homicidal fantasies with!”

As for Todd himself, he’s more or less similarly occupied with Dana, out in the toolshed. (Hmm… Drinking, smoking, sex… What could possibly go wrong?) In the middle of the two of them getting down to business, a definitely dead wasp suddenly comes back to life and starts attacking them: a response prefaced by a shot in compound-eye-vision that nearly made me cry (and which definitely made me wish I was watching The Fly instead). Much screaming and flailing and breaking things later, Todd manages to nearly knock himself out on the underside of a table, and as he lies dazed, the wasp…does a Chekov.

The teenagers’ screaming brings Bill and Claire running. They first drown the critter in the kids’ scotch (!), and then yank it out of Todd’s ear canal. And I have no idea if this was intentional or not, but having entered Todd’s right ear, it is pulled out of his left ear! I’d love to think this was a comment on Todd’s intelligence, but it’s probably just carelessness.

A trip to the emergency department later, Bill is shaking his head over the fact that no-one there had ever seen a bug like it, while an oddly distant Claire mutters how it was all Dana’s fault, she’d trouble, they shouldn’t let Todd see her…

More dreams, more false scares, family falling apart, yada-yada. As she washes up, Claire watches a shirtless Todd shoot hoops, soaping the dishes slowly in a way that’s possibly meant to be suggestive but which like everything else in this film is just icky, or in this case, dumb.

I’ll see your Ceti eel and raise you a wasp.

Marla shows up. Thank God! Jessica tells her all about the dollhouse, and Marla sets her to keeping track of its various manifestations: a task that leads to some genuinely amusing shots of Jessica solemnly taking notes while terrible things happen to her family elsewhere. Marla tries to move the thing from Jessica’s room, but a shutter flies open and cuts her face, driving her back. Thwarted, Marla helps herself to one of the cloth dolls.

Left alone, Jessica belatedly wonders what could be in the sealed attic-room. She touches the locked door with her finger, and gets an electric shock – which sends her to her notepad. (“Rule #1: Don’t touch the attic door…”)

Claire gets back from shopping, and is ogling Todd again when the oblivious teen, in an effort to “bury the hatchet”, invites her to play hoops with him – or as he rather unfortunately phrases it, under the circumstances, “Some one-on-one”.

Claire is flustered by this, or possibly by Todd’s insistence upon resting his pecs on her boobs, and retreats, provoking Todd to the ultimate insult: “You know, Claire, I thought you were going to be cool. I was wrong.” More ickiness follows, as Claire starts “seeing” Todd in her mirror behind her, and responds by feeling herself up.

“So, Todd – does the expression ‘personal space’ mean anything to you?”

Bill and Claire go out to dinner, leaving Todd in charge. More fools they. The instant they’ve gone, Todd packs the kids off to their rooms and – not having taken the hint from the wasp incident – settles in for an evening’s debauchery with Dana.

Meanwhile, Jimmy looks out the window to find Undead Dad digging a six-foot-deep hole in the backyard. He waves cheerily when he sees Jimmy watching, then comes upstairs for a visit, looking somewhat the worse for wear – as in, “straight off the cover of E.C. comics” the worse for wear. “You’re starting to really scare me, dad,” confesses Jimmy, although it is unclear whether it is his father’s murder plan or his rotting flesh that’s bothering him.

“I won’t do it! You can’t make me!” blurts Jimmy, and dashes for his room. It’s the murder plan, then? Okay. Of course, Undead Dad is already in there waiting for him, and strokes his cheeks gently. “Do it for me, Jimmy.”

Downstairs, whatever cosmic force it is that watches over transgressing teenagers decides that it’s time for Dana to take her lumps; and, in a scene almost as dumb as any served up by Amityville: It’s About Time, while Todd makes margheritas, Dana’s hair catches fire from the fireplace and Todd can’t hear her screaming over the noise of the blender. In the next room. Of an open-plan house. He does, however, eventually smell her.


No, seriously—WANT!!!!

By the way, are margheritas really the drink of choice for your average teenager?

One of the film’s better moments follows. As the ambulance pulls away, Jessica turns from her window and says to the dollhouse, not unadmiringly, “You did that.” She then notices that one of the dolls has somehow gotten into the fireplace. She reaches in there to pick it up and, as she does so, sees her own hand emerging from the attic-room – holding a doll.

“Whoa,” she comments, reasonably enough, and goes for the notepad.

Jimmy, having decidedly rather ungratefully to side with the living, is standing guard over his closet wearing a catcher’s mask and wielding a baseball bat that you just know he’s never once used for their true purpose. Across the hallway, Jessica sees the attic-room door in the dollhouse swing upon and a glowing light, as of a fire, behind it. She looks closer, and finds scattered about a number of books…and some blood.

Cue Marla and Tobias, conducting an occult ceremony over the stolen doll. You know, I’m usually fairly easily creeped out by dolls (heck, I’m Charles Band’s target audience!), but honestly, I’m having some trouble accepting these little guys as a threatening supernatural adversary. Tobias speaks an incantation, a candle bleeds, the room shakes, and then the doll sits up on its own. Eek! The doll starts turning around (a touch whose believability factor is not improved by the obvious hole in the table through which it is being manipulated), and glass jars containing lord knows what start shattering. The room shakes some more, and Marla is taken out when a heavy book falls off a bookcase and clonks her on the head, and then the bookcase itself collapses on top of her.

“This is sure to get me my Junior Parapsychologist badge!”

Tobias draws a knife and stabs the doll, pulling from inside it a gigantic wasp. He then excavates Marla, who whispers, “Go to them, Tobias.” And he does.

At the house, Undead Dad emerges from the closet despite Jimmy’s precautions and goes looking for Bill, axe in hand. Up until now we’ve been encouraged to consider Undead Dad as just a figment of Jimmy’s imagination, but suddenly he seems to be real – or perhaps I should say, an actual physical entity.

This is, of course, the traditional “step-father wins over reluctant step-child” moment that screenwriters love so, as Bill throws himself between Jimmy and Undead Dad, shoving the former out of the room and then finding himself in the grip of the latter.

And like Jimmy before him, Bill fails to display all that much surprise, or terror, upon finding himself face-to-face with his wife’s undead first husband. Frankly, I’ve seen more emotion displayed in current-partner-vs-ex scenes where one party wasn’t undead. Undead Dad tells Bill that they are coming for him and they are going to eat his soul, then punches Bill in the gut and vanishes. Bill is left clutching a piece of something.

A lot of boring stuff follows, which I will try to summarise. A bunch of inverted crosses appear around the house. Bill ends up trapped in the garage with his car’s engine running. Claire and Jimmy get cornered by Undead Dad (Claire at least gives a little shriek when she sees him) and end up sitting in front of the fire with him with their hands and feet tied up as he makes ominous references to Hansel And Gretel.

“What? I’m just as scary as that stupid house!”

The dollhouse taunts Jessica by spinning around and throwing papers at her (?), and then her real bedroom door opens to reveal an apparent fire beyond. And Todd gets attacked by his headphones and – again – knocks himself out by going headfirst into a table. Which doesn’t remotely excuse the fact that when he wakes up to find Dana, hair intact and dressed only in her underwear, sitting on the edge of his bed, he reacts by saying, “What are you doing here? I thought you were at the hospital”, or that when, her back still turned, she starts making seductive gestures…he responds.

Tobias shows up. Thank God! – this thing must nearly be over. First he rescues Bill, who springs remarkably back to life for someone unconscious from breathing carbon monoxide a few seconds earlier. Then he breaks open the front door, sealed with an inverted-cross doorhandle, propelling himself and Bill into the middle of Undead Dad’s incredibly slowwww transfer of Jimmy from the couch into the fireplace. This of course paves the way for Bill to play Super Step-Dad again – ooh, look, Jimmy! see how brave Bill is? – but while he manages to free Jimmy, he and Tobias then get the tar kicked out of them by Undead Dad, who seems to be in pretty good physical condition for a rotting corpse.

Jimmy is recaptured by Undead Dad and carried towards the fireplace again – yeah, yeah: promises, promises, Undead Dad – but once again Bill pulls him free, and then disposes of Undead Dad with a right cross. Bill grabs Jimmy and hisses at him, “The doll! Get the doll!” before going back to grappling with the remarkably resilient Undead Dad.

Now— When Tobias showed up, he had a much-larger cloth doll stuffed in his waistband; I’ve no idea where he got it from; I don’t think we’d seen it before. What’s more, Tobias took from Bill whatever he pulled off Undead Dad – however he knew he had it – which turned out to be the doll’s missing arm; so I guess the doll, which Tobias dropped after being tossed across the room and which Jimmy is now hunting, is the “real” form of Undead Dad.

It’s My Two Dads: The Next Generation – coming soon to Fox!

And the fact that I have to sit here puzzling over this, and trying, not very coherently, to explain it to you, should give you a fair indication of the standard of the writing in this film – and perhaps even more, of the editing.

Anyway, Jimmy picks up the doll, gives the inevitable You’re not my dad speech, and tosses the doll into the fire. It burns, Undead Dad howls, collapses and turns into a pile of smoldering ashes.

Meanwhile, the oblivious Todd – who between this and the blender incident, should really get his hearing checked – is still staring slack-jawed at Mysteriously Intact Dana. “So beautiful,” he mutters, reaching out to stroke her hair…which of course comes off in his hand. A bald, burned, snarling spectre, No Longer Intact Dana throws herself on Todd and starts strangling him. You go, No Longer Intact Dana!

Downstairs, after sending Jimmy outside, the others run upstairs to collect Jessica and Todd. As No Longer Intact Dana gloats at Todd, “They’re coming for you!”, Claire enters the room, disposes of her with a baseball bat and hauls Todd away. Tobias and Bill break into Jessica’s room. She’d gone – but Bill finds her notes. “She’s in the fireplace!” The men run back down, with Bill insisting that Claire and Todd get out and leave things to him and Tobias.

Complete this equation: drinking + smoking – clothes = ?

As Bill and Tobias stare into the lit fireplace, Bill announces, “This was in my dream!” And also as in his dream, Bill hears Jessica calling for him from the fireplace, and sees a figure behind the flames. “This is a portal!” deduces Bill. Tobias tries to dissuade him, but Bill launches himself into the fireplace, diving over the flames and landing in—

—the attic. Again, I’m not sure what’s going on here. The room Bill hands in has some very familiar eye-windows, so I assumed he’d been transported into the dollhouse; but when he rescues Jessica (oh, like that’s a surprise!), they escape out into the Martins’ house.

Anyway, although she’s not immediately there in his reality, Bill hears Jessica calling again and then suddenly she is there, sitting on the floor surrounded by a set of dolls almost as large as herself. Then Tobias shoots through the portal and lands beside them, declaring the room to be, “A place of evil.” Well, duh. Bill then realises that the “dolls” are in fact empty shells, or husks, as Tobias calls them – as if something had emerged from inside them…

Tobias reveals that these are “demons”, adding that one about the size of a rat nearly killed him and Marla. And these, of course, are much bigger.

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This guy needs a better agent.

And then they appear, two rubber-suited figures wielding pointy things which are pretty stupid, and are sensibly kept against the light so we don’t get too clear a look at them, and a gorgeous red winged devil thing that has no business being in a crap film like this.

The three humans back up against the door, and Tobias spreads a ring of crystals around them, uttering an incantation and creating a shield against the demons. Jessica cries out that in the dollhouse, the attic door opens outwards – and sure enough, there’s an escape route behind them. Tobias orders Bill and Jessica out, insisting that they burn the dollhouse, and then run to safety. He stays behind to fight the demons, uttering another incantation that ends with those mystical words, You bastards!!

And then it turns out that his magical shield doesn’t work – how ’bout that? One of the suit-demons reaches through and it impales him with its tail.

Bill and Jessica hear Tobias’s dying scream, and Bill orders Jessica out of the house while he deals with the dollhouse. She runs, and he shoves the dollhouse into the fireplace, where it first catches fire and then explodes for no readily apparent reason.

“And that smell? That’s just Uncle Tobias.”

And then we re-enact the end of Part 1, with the family gathered in their van waiting desperately for Super Step-Dad to emerge triumphant. And sure enough, Bill comes running out of the house and vaults face-first onto the flatbed, also for no readily apparent reason. Claire steps on the accelerator, and they speed off – about fifty yards. And then they sit there and watch as their own house – you guessed it – explodes for no readily apparent reason.

And this is as close as this thing ever gets to being a genuine Amityville film.

But even this tiny mishap can’t quell the Martins’ new love for one another, and they all hug, and kiss, and smile, and laugh, and—

Uh, yeah. I know we’re all supposed to be thrilled that this experience has brought you guys together as a family, but…given that your brother-in-law / uncle has just died horribly to save your worthless lives, and his corpse is still smouldering in the wreckage of your house,  do you think you could give the wisecracks a rest for a few minutes?

You don’t? Okay, then.

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…but at least they got the ending right.

And then we spend several minutes watching both houses burn, the dollhouse over and over – again like a real Amityville film. I suppose this was their way of acknowledging that this was going to be the last of the franchise. And then we finish on a close-up of the dollhouse, with fire pouring through the eye-windows…

Awww… I’m gunna miss you, Big Fella!

Want a second opinion of Amityville Dollhouse? Visit The Unknown Movies.

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5 Responses to Amityville Dollhouse (1996)

  1. RogerBW says:

    I find myself curiously reminded of Ronan Point, a tower block in east London which collapsed in 1968 after a minor gas explosion. The gas stove in question went with its owner to her new home, and she continued to use it for some years thereafter…

    If you didn’t already have a title for this site, “explodes for no readily apparent reason” would be a good one.


    • lyzmadness says:

      Or maybe just “INFLAMMABILIS”, since when I’m not dealing with Things That Explode For No Readily Apparent Reason, I’m usually being confronted by Strangely Flammable Killer Animals.


      • Dawn says:

        “by the light of a silvery moon….”


      • The Rev. says:

        I just want to give you a big hug after the part where the mouse dies. Your forlorn sadness comes through there. Poor Lyz.

        Looking at the awesome demon-thing again, it occurs to me how wasp-like it is, which ties in with the actual wasps, which in turns makes the critter even better, and as a result means it sticks out even more in this cockamamie mess.

        Once again, I marvel at the perverse circumstances where I’ve seen a few of the ridiculous later films in the franchise, but not the original. Indeed, the earliest one is The Evil Escapes. I suppose, if nothing else, I should see the third one, which is apparently gleefully stupid, if your review is anything to go by.


  2. lyzmadness says:

    Aw, thank you. That was part of a horrible run where everything I watched had an animal dying in it (including, of course, A4 and A6); the mouse was just about the final straw.

    It is true that with each of the films in the original franchise run, I can take something enjoyable away—in this case the model house and the demon (and the tarantula). And rewatching the remake helps to remind me of that. 🙂

    A3 is great fun. Some serious bits, a couple of creepy bits, a great many dumb bits—but overall, fun!


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