TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: AMITYVILLE DOLLHOUSE (1996)

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AMITYVILLE DOLLHOUSE (1996)

Bill (Robin Thomas) has just gotten re-married and has built a new house, over the site of another that burned down, for his new family. In the leftover shed is a dollhouse that unbeknownst to Bill is built as an exact replica of the infamous Amityville house. He gives it to his daughter Jessica (Rachel Duncan) for her birthday and let’s just say the miniature version is no less haunted than the original. Supernatural hi-jinx ensue.

While the premise is quite goofy, as are the proceedings, film is taken quite seriously by director Steve White from a silly script by Joshua Michael Stern. Aside from the ridiculous premise—and that the Amityville House was in Long Island, New York and this takes place in California, so where did the dollhouse come from?—we get giant mice, homicidal hornets, dads (Clayton Murray) returned from the dead, demons and overheated step-moms (Starr Andreeff). We are also treated to overactive fireplaces, the dollhouse being a portal to a demon dimension and for exposition purposes, Bill’s sister (Lenore Kasdorf) Maria and her biker boyfriend (Franc Ross) just happen to be mediums that dabble in the occult—not that they are much help. Taken seriously by it’s director and cast makes it all the more fun as we watch this family tormented and terrorized by the demonic dollhouse and are treated to some decent make-up FX to represent walking corpse dads, burn victims and a pair of actual demons during it’s amusingly overbaked climax. Do we ever find out where the dollhouse came from and why it’s a demon doorway? No!—and who cares?! There is a lot of unintentional entertainment here as White and company seemed to set out to make a serious horror and failed miserably. Entertainment is entertainment, intentional or not. The cast try hard to play the material straight and if some of the performances are a little over the top, who can blame them considering what they have to work with. The production looks solid, though it has a direct to VOD feel, and the budget benefits from being set mostly in and around the house.

Overall this is a an unintentionally silly but fun horror that seems to have had every intention of taking it’s ridiculous story seriously. Win win for us, as it is entertaining in it’s preposterousness and with a few of the right beverages can be a hoot to watch. Streaming free on Tubi and Amazon Prime.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) familiar haunted houses!

amityville horror rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CARNOSAUR (1993)

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CARNOSAUR (1993)

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“Driven to extinction, back for revenge!”- Carnosaur tagline

Anyone who’s been coming to this site for a while knows I am a big Roger Corman fan. From my reviews you’ve also probably learned that if Corman could take advantage of a trend, he would. No better example of this, is his low budget 1993 production Carnosaur. Not only did he get this flick into production to take advantage of all the hype for the upcoming Jurassic Park, but he beat Spielberg’s classic into theaters by almost a month! He even one-upped the master director by giving his dinosaur epic the blood and gore Jurassic Park wouldn’t and also has veteran actress Diane Ladd giving birth to a baby dinosaur…did you expect anything less from one of exploitation films’ greatest producers?

The book based Carnosaur finds geneticist Dr. Jane Tiptree (Ladd) splicing various animal DNA with chickens to create larger poultry for the shady Eunice Food Corporation in the Nevada desert. An interesting…and not so accidental…side-effect is that the chickens are giving birth to dinosaurs! Add in a group of nature conservationists who are protesting Eunice’s destruction of local land and you’ve got a dinosaur smorgasbord! Now it’s up to drunken security guard Doc (Raphael Sbarge) and pretty tree-hugger Ann (Jennifer Runyon) to save the day..unless they become dinosaur chow first! Did I mention that Dr. Tiptree has also created a virus that will cause human women to give birth to prehistoric critters and has a pet T-Rex? Remember, this is a Roger Corman movie!

Obviously by that plot description, this is a bad movie and while not up to the standards of Corman’s earlier features, the rubber monsters, spurting blood and ridiculous plot can be enjoyed on a ‘so bad, it’s good’ level. It’s just too bad director Adam Simon directs with such a heavy hand as this could have been a real blast had someone handled it that would take the ludicrous plot and just run with it. He also gives this film an unnecessarily slow pace and…except for Ladd, who gives her dinosaur-loving mad scientist her all…doesn’t inspire much from his cast. There is a lot of spattered blood and gore as the film’s Deinonychus attacks and eats anyone it comes in contact with, not to mention the effects of a human woman giving birth to a baby dinosaur…twice. The gore effects are rendered quite well, though, the dinosaur effects are delightfully rubbery and laughably cheesy. There is some definite fun to be had here, but it would have been better had the director not taken this obvious lunacy so seriously and the plot wasn’t so hopelessly convoluted. The dino-virus and government conspiracy elements clog things up and add nothing. A simple dinosaur on the loose rampage was more than enough. At least we get some fun out of watching Doc and Ann, in a pair of Bobcat bulldozers, take on the T-Rex in the rubbery fun climax… though I still can’t figure out why Doc lets the beast out in the first place. At this point, why look for logic in a film like this.

I have fun with this flick, though, even as B-Movie entertainment, it could have been a lot better. The plot wanders from genetic experiments to enlarge chickens, to mad scientists wanting to repopulate the world with dinosaurs, to the government cover-up of all this nonsense. The monsters are obvious rubber miniatures, the blood and gore is plentiful and a respected actress gives birth to a dinosaur right before our eyes. It’s a Roger Corman movie through and through and while not up to his usual standards, it’s still entertaining. Carnosaur did well enough to inspire not one but two direct to home media sequels.

2 and 1/2 rubber critters.

carnosaur rating

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