Wednesday, July 10, 2024

‘Amityville Frankenstein’ Isn’t Worth Reanimating [The Amityville IP]

Twice a month Joe Lipsett will dissect a new Amityville Horror film to explore how the “franchise” has evolved in increasingly ludicrous directions. This is “The Amityville IP.”

This editorial series has spilled a lot of digital ink analyzing how IP is the driving factor in the vast majority of Amityville films. This is hardly surprising considering Hollywood’s predilection for repurposing /capitalizing on successful titles and the legal freedom that the Amityville name provides as both a selling feature and an easy cash grab.

Throughout the history of the ~45 films we’ve looked at to date, there have been no shortage of individuals who have picked up a camera (or phone), shot some footage over a weekend, and then waited for the money to roll in.

Artistically this hasn’t produced the most creative or interesting selection of films, however. Folks who have been reading along for the last few years have undoubtedly noted that the vast majority of the “franchise” films under review have earned scores of 1 star or less.

All this to say, I went into executive producer, writer, and director Nick Box’s first Amityville film with a certain amount of trepidation. Amityville Frankenstein is the first of three Amityville films that Box released in 2023…in the span of a single week (April 13-20).

Ted (Julian Seager) electrocuting himself for ~2.5 minutes in 'Amityville Frankenstein'

How is this possible? Well, Amityville Frankenstein debuted as an interactive feature film/Steam game called Fiendish Thieves back in 2020 before it was rebranded by Box as an Amityville film in 2023. We’ve seen this phenomenon before, with Against the Night, which was released in 2017 and later rebranded Amityville Prison.

The result, unsurprisingly, means that Amityville Frankenstein is barely an Amityville film.

The film follows Shawn C Phillips (director of Amityville Karen, and actor from Amityville Thanksgiving, Karen, In The Hood and Hex) as Viewer, an indiscriminate viewer who eschews his large physical media collection to watch “Terror Telly” with horror host Maurice Morbid (Chan Walrus). The film Maurice is screening is called <drumroll> ‘Fiendish Thieves’ and follows “bungling burglars” Ted (Julian Seager) and Steve (Boyd Rogers) as they try to steal a watch from the lab of a Dr (Jamie Smith – and yes, that is how the character is credited). Unbeknownst to them, the Dr has created a Frankenstein creature (Matt Stuart) and its female companion (Scarlet Brooke), who awaken when Ted inadvertently electrocutes himself while turning on a light.

What happens next? Well, the thieves are scared off, the creatures disappear, and the Dr is mad. And…that’s it!

Nothing of consequence happens in ‘Fiendish Thieves’ and, by extension, nothing much happens in this 62-minute Amityville film, which runs 58 minutes without credits. In tried and true fashion, this is barely a feature; Amityville Frankenstein is little more than a bland collection of scenes that go on interminably long in what is ultimately a flimsy attempt to pad the runtime.

Do you want to see two thieves climb a flight of stairs for four minutes? What about watch a character get electrocuted for the same amount of time? If the answer is yes, then Amityville Frankenstein is the film for you!

Horror host Maurice Morbid (Chan Walrus) appears on television in 'Amityville Frankenstein'

Much like Amityville Death Toilet or Ghosts of Amityville, there’s barely enough content here to justify a short, never mind a feature-length production. Unlike Death Toilet, however, this film barely even has a sense of humor; whereas the former title tried (and admittedly failed) to insert zany comedy into the proceedings, the only part of Amityville Frankenstein that remotely works is Walrus’ slightly hammy performance as a late night horror host who resents the actors and films he screens.

Alas, Box is content to spend too much time on Steve and Ted walking up stairs in the dark or witnessing the Viewer try to toss cheese popcorn into his mouth (or farting – a running gag for Shawn C. Phillips in these films). But Amityville Frankenstein isn’t interesting and too much of the film plays like filler, which is all the more grating when the finished result doesn’t even hit the one hour mark without having to run the title card and credits twice (a total of nearly 5 minutes of screen time).

It’s insulting and boring, which are two apt descriptors for this laziest of cash grabs. Give me the weirdness of Amityville Ride-Share over this slop any day.

Bungling burglars Ted (Julian Seager) and Steve (Boyd Rogers) in a barely visible black and white scene in Amityville Frankenstein

The Amityville IP Awards go to…

  • Baffling Phillips: It is wild that Shawn C. Phillips is so plugged into this “franchise” (we’ll see him in no less than four more films, two of which he directs). He’s an atrocious actor, who can’t even improv natural dialogue about selecting movie snacks without resorting to lines about water like “They call it ‘aqua’, but I prefer to call it ‘la chuga.’”
  • Lighting Lizzie: It’s wild that a crew member (simply called Lizzie) is credited with lighting because 95% of Ted and Steve’s laborious climb up the stairs is so dark that you can barely see a thing. The decision to film the ‘Fiendish Thieves’ portion (ie: the majority of the film) in black and white doesn’t help; there’s no depth to the cinematography, so it all just looks like a wash.
  • Joke: Wasted: One of the best gags is Maurice Morbid’s preview of the following night’s film. Entitled “I Drink Tea And Watch You Die Slowly”, the film is exactly what the title describes: a man drinking tea while another man, tied up and bloody, expires in front of him. It’s very dumb and provides a solid laugh…until it goes on for six and a half minutes. It doesn’t matter how silly/clever the joke is initially, nothing can justify that creative decision.
  • <Insert Flatulence>: Once again, if pressed to describe this film using only a single still image, it’s a pretty obvious choice…

Shawn C. Phillips as Viewer, farting, in Amityville Frankenstein

Next time: our journey into Nick Box’s contribution to the “franchise” continues with another previously released film that has been rebranded under the Amityville banner: 2023’s Amityville Job Interview (aka 2018’s Strange Vibes).

The post ‘Amityville Frankenstein’ Isn’t Worth Reanimating [The Amityville IP] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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