Amsterdamned (1988) (114 minutes)
Directed by Dick Maas.
Written by Dick Maas.
Starring Huub Stapel, Monique van de Ven and Serge-Henri Valcke.
In 1988, Dick Maas, a Dutch film director who has gain success within his native country with films such as De Lift and Flodder, brought to the screen one of his biggest pictures, the horror action thriller, Amsterdamned. Which at the American Film Market of 1988, would go on to become the third highest selling motion picture that year.
But what is Amsterdamned and should we thank Shameless for bringing it to us in their latest release?
When you think of Amsterdam, you think of beer, sex, drugs and canals. And it’s these canals that play the biggest part in this movie I’m afraid to say, not the beer, sex or drugs.
It seems that a serial killer has been using the world famous canals of Amsterdam as his hunting ground and it’s down to the city police to stop him before he can strike again.
The murders start with the killing of a “working girl”, who has been dumped on the street by a taxi driver who didn’t get the tip he was hoping for. With the only witness of the crime, a crazy old bag lady, who describes the killer as a giant monster with claws that crawled out of the canal and then disappeared back into water with its victim, that’s all the cops have to go on. What’s more the victim is found hanging from a bridge, upside-down, by a group of school children on a sight-seeing trip along the canals in a great little set-piece by Maas.
With such hard and nasty crimes being committed around the canals of Amsterdam an equally hard, but not so nasty detective is required to solve them. Enter Eric Visser, your archetypal hard-nosed cop with a heart. A single father with a teenage daughter, a man that stops to arrest bakery thieves while in traffic jams and a man that picks-up women at diving classes. With a “designer” leather and a 5 o’clock shadow that never reaches 6 o’clock, Eric is the man. Eric, who seems to have designs on Will Graham (William Petersen) from Manhunter (1986), in the fashion stakes and is under pressure from the powers that be for results. So he and his partner Vermeer start the hunt with the aid of another cop John, a specialist in diving and works for the river police.
As the body count rises and the suspects come and go, Eric still finds time for the ladies. One being Laura, a museum guide, who is seeing a shrink Martin Ruysdael, a former diver turned psychiatrist (Suspect No.1), for some reason or another. But as the romance blossoms with dinner at the most Dutch looking restaurant you could imagine, could Laura be next on the killers list of victims?
With all the prime ingredients in place for a top horror action thriller, the only thing we’ve not mentioned so far is the action, which is handle excellently by Dickey Beer and legendary stuntman turned stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong who worked on this film. The main set-piece of the film being a thrilling speedboat chase through the canals of Amsterdam, very much in the style of James Bond’s Live and Let Die chase. Also another set-piece that requires recommendation is the encounter in the sunken canal boat, great lighting effects and a good sense of danger and action.
From these action scenes and the collection of characters within this film you can see that Dick Maas is a big fan of American cinema, and wants to try and bring that big budget feel to his picture. However at times, especially when he’s trying to lighten the mood with some very miss-timed comedic moments, it falls short of the mark and the film loses its direction. Also with film drawing to its climax it has the biggest “what the fuck” moment going. But I’ll leave that to you to find out.
With these points aside Amsterdamned does work to a point and is a good watch and what I would say is a good entry level film to the films of the Shameless catalogue. So there is nothing too shocking and nothing too left-field for your first time visitor to the world of Shameless and this film may entice them further into the darker and stranger side of Shameless cinema.