Sunday, 6 January 2013

Amsterdamned (1988)

How could anyone resist a film with a title like that? Just re-released on the Shameless DVD label in the UK, this Dutch slasher movie could almost be considered a giallo, except instead of a black-gloved killer we have a black wet-suited diver in a gimp mask terrorising the canals of Amsterdam. The movie opens with the murder of a prostitute whose body is then discovered the next morning in the kind of hilariously grotesque setpiece that the League of Gentlemen would be envious of. Eighties fashion victim and tight blue underpant-wearing detective Huub Stapel is soon on the case along with his muscle bound yellow wetsuit (aaargggghhh!) attired sidekick, but they can’t stop the next murder. “He was a vegetarian,” says their completely mental and somewhat overenthusiastic pathologist colleague. “His stomach was full of the usual slop – you know – lentils and the like”. Eyewitnesses are similarly unhelpful. “That old lady said it was a big black monster with claws,” says Huub’s sidekick. “Then my mother-in-law had better have a good alibi” he quips in reply (and this after the two have just met each other for the first time in thirteen years with the exchange “You stole my girlfriend” “Don’t worry I won’t do that again.”).
More murders occur but who is the killer? Is it Huub’s sidekick who likes diving? Or his new girlfriend who likes diving? Or perhaps her psychiatrist who used to like diving but doesn’t anymore – or so he’d like us to believe? The fact that the killer’s identity is even better and more bonkers than I could possibly have hoped for is just one of the many reasons why this really is a splendid little horror film. Another is that it’s the only slasher movie I've ever seen to feature the most fantastic, thrilling, well-shot and hilarious speedboat chase around the canals of Amsterdam as a climax. 
Director Dick Maas also made THE LIFT (which I’ve yet to see) and SAINT (which I have and which is a cracking Santa Claus horror picture) which premiered at FrightFest in 2011. AMSTERDAMNED is nearly two hours long but a witty script, endearing actors, and a director who really knows what he’s doing means the time just flies by. 

1 comment:

  1. I rented this film from the foreign horror schlock corner of my local video store when I wasn about sixteen years old. It was a dubbed and slightly cut version, with some seconds of the most violent scenes cut out. I remember being pretty delightfully scared by "Amsterdamned" at the time. There is just something unsettling about the concept of a crazed diver killing people...

    I thought the film was great back then, but now that I'm an adult, I wasn't quite sure anymore how good it really was - sometimes, one vastly overrates films one saw as a teenager and is disappointed when one re-watches them later. "Did I really think this was awesome?" But, since you gave the film a good review, I guess I should indeed re-watch it sometime.