Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989)



In this made-for-network-TV entry, a crack team of Catholic priests comes in to exorcise the demonic presence within the possessed Amityville home. Cornered, the demon finds refuge by traveling through the power cable into a hideous-looking floor lamp. Sensing the evil is gone from the home, the contents of the home are put up at a yard sale, where a frolicsome older woman spies the lamp for a hundred dollars that would make for a great gag gift to send her sister in California.

That sister is Alice Leacock, who lives in a Victorian house overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the fictional northern California town of Dancott. Alice is a bitter fuddy-duddy set in her ways, and unhappy to have to take in her newly widowed daughter, Nancy Evans, and three grandchildren until they can get back on their feet. Alice receives the lamp, placing it prominently in her home, despite her household cat and parrot reacting with alarm to its presence. Not long after, strange occurrences erupt as the evil gets unleashed throughout the house, with the malevolent spirit especially targeting and influencing the youngest of the grandchildren by convincing her that it is her dead father. Meanwhile, one of the priests concludes that the evil may have transferred into one or more of the house’s yard sale items and begins sleuthing, trying to warn the family that they are in possession of a powerful demonic presence that will surely destroy them all.


Amityville 3-D (1983) | Richard Fleischer



John Baxter is a recently divorced journalist working for an investigative magazine called Reveal. Baxter’s latest assignment exposes a seance scam operating within the abandoned Amityville home on Long Island, New York. Afterward, Baxter finds that the house is immensely affordable due to its sordid history of terrible things happening to those who’ve been inside. Baxter, apparently needing to find a new place following his divorce that has fourteen rooms covering three floors, moves into the house certain that all prior calamities were coincidences, delusions, and hoaxes. That bottomless pit in the basement others have claimed a portal to hell? Oh, that’s just an abandoned well. It has plenty of space for himself and his teenage daughter when she visits, as well as solitude for writing the “great American novel” he’s been talking about for years. Others around him experience strange events and implore him to leave. He won’t because he’s convinced the house’s reputation is causing mass hysteria. Unfortunately, with his daughter staying with him on occasion, he soon discovers that being wrong might be dead wrong.


Amityville II: The Possession (1982) | Damiano Damiani



In this prequel of a sort to The Amityville Horror (1979), the dysfunctional Montelli family moves into their new home and finds many curious things right away, including every window being nailed shut and a secret room in the basement of the house that is full of flies, muck and smells to high heaven (or down to low Hell). The longer they stay, the more they begin to witness strange events, and bicker violently with one another, until the eldest son of the family, Sonny ( Jack Magner), actually begins to exhibit behavior that may not be his own, including a desire to kill his abusive father, Anthony (Burt Young), and defile his younger teenage sister, Trish (Diane Franklin). Before things get completely out of hand, the mother requests that a local priest, Father Adamsky (James Olson), come out to investigate the supernatural events of the place, but without the backing of his superiors, he’s going it alone against what appears to be a portal to unfathomable evil that resides below the house. Rutanya Alda and Andrew Prine also appear. Directed by Damiano Damiano from a script by Tommy Lee Wallace.


The Amityville Horror (1979) | Stuart Rosenberg



The Amityville Horror is based on a popular novel by Jay Anson with a little longer title, “The Amityville Horror – A True Story”. The true story is, at this point, well known to be fictitious, but it did give the public quite a rise for a while. In the story, a young man ends up shooting his parents and sibling while they slept in the middle of the night for reasons even he couldn’t begin to explain. The horrific events shocked the small town, but the house was still deemed worthy for sale. Enter the Lutz family, who buy the house because it is going for a relatively cheaper rate than if it didn’t have the malevolent stigma, but they can’t pass up the price. However, weird things start happening, starting with the fact that the preacher (Rod Steiger,) who comes to bless the house is scared out of his wits, soon after suffering from an unknown ailment he feels has been inflicted by the evil within the house. The Lutz family themselves start exhibiting weird behavior themselves, with the father, George (James Brolin), always feeling cold, and having little motivation to do anything more than chop wood for the fire. Doors and windows open and close, the daughter starts talking to an imaginary (?) friend, and the dog starts sniffing around the cellar trying to dig up something only he knows is there. Margot Kidder costars.


Poltergeist III (1988) | Gary Sherman



Heather O’Rourke and Zelda Rubinstein are the only players from the first two films to cross over into the light of Poltergeist III.  Here, O’Rourke’s character, Carol Anne, seemingly dumped by her parents for reasons unknown, is taken care of by her Aunt Patricia (Nancy Allen), Uncle Bruce (Tom Skerritt), and teenage step-cousin, Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle), living in a high-rise building in Chicago.  Carol Anne has been enrolled in a school for gifted but troubled kids, as her therapist, Dr. Seaton (Richard Fire), thinks that the young girl has the ability to hypnotize people into believing her delusions about seeing ghosts.  Seaton forces Carol Anne to speak about her experiences, which brings to light her involvement with the dreaded Reverend Kane (Nate Davis), and this talk has caused the late Reverend to cross over into trying to get in contact with the girl again.  For some reason, the entire building is chock full of mirrors at every turn, which is convenient to the haunting that emerges, as most of its haunting involved scaring the bejeesus out of the family and their cohorts through reflections in whatever mirrors they happen to be looking at.


Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) | Brian Gibson



Poltergeist II: The Other Side seeks to give more back story to the events of the first film, why the youngest child in the Freeling family had been wanted by the spirits, and the nature of the cult from which the spirits culminated, headed by Reverend Henry Kane (Julian Beck).  Kane manifests himself in human form in this sequel, tenacious in his pursuit of young Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke), now moved away with her family in the hope they could start a new life for themselves.  Tangina Barron (Zelda Rubinstein), the paranormal investigator from Poltergeist, sends out a Native American shaman (Will Sampson) to help protect the family once she discovers the hidden cave buried in the ground where Kane and his followers died, knowing that the family will not be able to escape Kane’s interest no matter where they might go.  Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, and Oliver Robins return.


Poltergeist (1982) | Tobe Hooper



In the film, a family of five known as the Freelings lives in idyllic suburbia – or so they think.  Strange things begin to occur in the house shortly after their cherubic 5-year-old daughter (Heather O’Rourke) begins receiving communication from someone she refers to as the “TV people” through the static on their television set.  Their pet bird dies, furniture begins to move on its own, and other such oddities, but things take a turn for the deadly for the family when the tree outside their home seemingly becomes animated and threatens to engulf the middle child (Oliver Robins) into its wooden maw.  The boy is saved, but their young daughter ends up missing, ostensibly stolen into another dimension by forces unknown, although she is able to still communicate through the television. The family enlists the services of a group of parapsychologists to investigate the strange phenomena, and hopefully get back their beloved daughter, but the forces that currently dominate the house prove to be much stronger than anything they’ve ever seen before. Tobe Hooper directs this Steven Spielberg production.


Beetlejuice (1988) | Tim Burton



Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) love the little home in the country they’ve built for themselves, but after they are killed in a freak accident and come back as ghosts, they are appalled to find that their house has been sold to a tasteless and unpleasant family, who plan one tearing down all they’ve built to redo the house in the tackiest way possible. Now they are determined to do what they can to scare away the family and serve out their 125-year term as apparitions before moving on to the next phase, but a wrench stops up the works when the new owners are pleased with the financial possibilities of the attraction of a haunted house, and it seems the more they scare these new inhabitants, the more amused they get. The Maitlands call on the services of Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), a crazy and psychotic ghoul who seems to do more harm than good for the Maitland’s tastes. Tim Burton directs.


Ghostbusters II (1989) | Ivan Reitman



Five years after the events of Ghostbusters,  the heroes are zeroes again, bankrupt after getting sued by the city for the destructive aftermath of clearing out the city of spooks. There’s also a Federal restraining order prohibiting them from continued ghostbusting. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) is now the host of a cheesy local cable talk show called, “World of the Psychic.”  Occult bookstore owner Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) gets side work with Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), cosplaying as Ghostbusters for childrens’ birthday parties. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) is back at Columbia University, investigating how human emotions affect psycho-magnetic energy.  Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) is a single mother after leaving Venkman for his inability to commit, having a baby, now eight months old, with another man.  Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) applies his knack for accounting to become a tax lawyer.

They reunite after being approached by Peter’s ex, Dana, who reports a strange occurrence involving her baby’s carriage traveling on its own. They discover rivers of mood slime running beneath the city, converging on the Manhattan Museum of Art, where Dana works as an art restorer, including a life-size portrait of Medieval sorcerer warlord, Vigo the Carpathian. Vigo’s spirit lives within his portrait, and to enter into the realm of the living, he needs a baby to be his vessel to come to the mortal realm and continue his reign of terror. He makes a deal with Dana’s boss, Dr. Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol), to secure her baby, Oscar, in exchange for a date with her.


Ghostbusters (1984) | Ivan Reitman



Ghostbusters centers on three university researchers (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis) of paranormal activity who go into business of their own once they get into trouble for their uncouth antics, and their grant money runs out.  They emerge on the scene as the “Ghostbusters”, a trio of exterminators (of sorts), willing to investigate phenomena from anyone in New York City willing to call their number and pay their fees.  Though the public is initially skeptical, these men soon become heroes, then celebrities, for their success rate, drawing the attention of the media, as well as the EPA (who are curious about their containment system), as the amount of ghostly appearances seems to be on a major upswing.

Sigourney Weaver co-stars as a cellist named Dana Barrett, who is one of the first in her old building to begin seeing strange things in her refrigerator, causing her to make the call she never thought she’d have to make.  Along with her neighbor, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), she becomes the conduit for the rise of the malevolent Babylonian spirit, whose aims are to bring darkness onto the world. Directed by Ivan Reitman.

 

Erratum: The artist friend Aykroyd used for conceptual art on Ghost Smashers was John “The Viking” Deveikis, not the cited Thom Enriquez, who made additional conceptual art once Reitman was on board.


Prince of Darkness (1987) | John Carpenter



The diary of a reclusive priest named Father Carlton reveals a centuries-old secret sect in the Church called the Brotherhood of Sleep.  Carlton was on the verge of revealing their existence to the Archbishop that Brotherhood is guarding an ancient cylinder filled green fluid hidden in the basement of an abandoned 16th Century-built chapel in Los Angeles. The dormant entity inside the cylinder has been awakened by the force of a distant supernova that exploded long ago, a chaotic chain reaction disrupting order on Earth.

Another priest discovers the diary and key to the basement, encountering the cylinder and a mysterious book written in ancient languages containing mathematical and physics references. The priest contacts his former TV debate sparring partner, advanced physics professor Howard Birack, to decipher what it all means. Birack brings a research team of graduate students to investigate, who collectively experience tachyon transmissions in their dreams from the future warning about the re-emergence of an ancient evil.

The book reveals the truth: Jesus was a descendant of a human-like extraterrestrial race killed for delivering scientific warnings that no one understood. His disciples hid these warnings until such a time when science could catch up and decode the truth. The church lied publicly, telling followers that evil lies within them and could be controlled through faith.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Darkness, aka the Devil, has remained dormant in the cylinder there for two-thousand years, placed there by his father, the Anti-God. The anti-God once roamed the Earth before humankind’s existence but now resides within subatomic antimatter awaiting a time for his son to reemerge to help him cross from the mirror dimension into the material world.

Something’s growing in the prebiotic fluid, leaking up toward the ceiling, squirting into the mouths of the students, using psychokinetic energy to turn them evil. Satan’s searching for a host to bring himself into the world to help the father escape.

John Carpenter writes and directs.


The Stuff (1985) | Larry Cohen



Larry Cohen concocts this comedic horror-thriller involving an ex-FBI agent turned industrial spy hired by a desperate ice cream industry, trying to steal the secret formula from a corporation pushing a newly marketed yogurt-like food substance called The Stuff. He discovers the substance, which is found bubbling up from seemingly unlimited deposits underground, is deadly and humanity hangs in the balance. The Stuff is a delicious, no-calorie dessert that is highly addictive to all who eat it. So addictive that all people want to do it continue eating it, while the living parasite inside controls their minds as it eats them from the inside until it reproduces and the human host expires. Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Scott Bloom, Garrett Morris, Paul Sorvino, Danny Aiello appear.


The Blob (1988) | Chuck Russell



The Blob suddenly appears after crashlanding in a rural area outside of the fictional ski resort town of Arborville, CA. It attaches itself to the hand of a vagrant, Star high school wide receiver Paul Taylor (Donovan Leitch) and his cheerleader crush Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith) are out on their first date when they come across the man, taking him to the hospital, along with the town’s juvenile delinquent, Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon), who they think is responsible. They soon discover that the blob has eaten the man alive, and is growing larger. As it heads to town to feed the Blob is revealed to be a runaway bio-weapon experiment invented by the US military. Secret government operatives quarantine the town. They want the Blob back alive; the town’s residents are expendable. It’s up to the teens to save the day. Chuck Russell directs from a script written by Russell and Frank Darabont.


The Thing (1982) | John Carpenter



The story starts out in Antarctica, where a group of scientists is bunkered until one day they are disturbed by the sounds of gunshots coming from a Norwegian helicopter, apparently trying to kill a runaway dog.  They miss their quarry, and the Norwegians end up getting offed, with no explanation as to what their problem is.  Fearing more violence, the American crew travels to the Norwegian camp, only to find some very odd occurrences, including a mangled humanoid body that has normal internal organs.  Then, the dog reveals that it is not really a dog, but some sort of alien organism with the power to mimic other life-forms and dominate until it takes over everything around it.  The men of the camp are its next intended victims, and soon, no one can trust the others. Kurt Russell, Keith David, and Wilford Brimley appear. Directed by John Carpenter.


The Hidden (1987) | Jack Sholder



Michael Nouri stars as LAPD detective Tom Beck, who takes down a bank robber gone berserk in one of the bloodiest shootouts in department history.  What Beck doesn’t know is that the culprit is actually being controlled by a parasite within his body that loves danger, money, speeding, and good ol’ rock-n-roll, and it can’t be killed by normal means, and moves from host to host whenever the body it is in is about to expire.  Enter FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan), on assignment from Seattle to help apprehend the perpetrator(s) on a killing spree the likes of which have the LA cops stymied.  Gallagher seems to hold the key as to why normally good people are going bad all of a sudden, but he’s not letting on why. Jack Sholder directs.