Thursday, August 17, 2017

AMSTERDAMNED (1988) (Blue Underground Blu-ray Review)


Label: Blue Underground 

Release Date: August 29th 2017 
Rating:  R
Duration: 113 Minutes 
Region Code: Region-FREE
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Audio: Blu-ray: Dutch DTS-HD 5.1; Dutch, English: DTS-HD MA 2.0; French: Dolby Digital Stereo / DVD: Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX; Dutch, English, French Dolby Digital Stereo with Optional English, English SDH, Español Subtitles 
Director: Dick Maas
Cast: Huub Stapel, Monique van de Ven, Serge-Henri Valcke
Dutch slasher Amsterdamned (1988) comes to us from the director of the Christmas crime-slasher Sint (Saint) from 2001, but this action-slasher is maybe even more odd than that weird genre mash-up. Here we have a scuba-diving slasher stalking the canals of Amsterdam, and that's pretty weird, but also a rather good slasher film with strong police procedural elements and some keen action set-pieces. 

The film opens with a POV shot of our scuba-slasher stalking the canals of Amsterdam, his POV rising out of the water like the shark in Jaws, eventually coming across prostitute who's already had a shitty night, but it's about to get even worse. The black dive-suited attacker leaps from the canal and plunges a diver's knife into her flesh before dragging her into the murky depth of the canal. The next day her mangled corpse is hung from a bridge where it is struck by a passing tourist boat, her bloody body is dragged along the entire length of the glass-roofed boat to the scream-filled horror of boy scouts and nuns! The whole set-up of the first kill and it's aftermath is a real showstopper, this movie wastes no time getting it's hooks right into you! 

As more bodies emerge from the canals over the next few days it becomes clear that a serial killer is on the loose, and hard boiled detective Eric Visser (Huub Stapel, The Lift) is brought in on the case and the film plays out more or less like an Italian style Giallo crime thriller with some cat and mouse games between the cop and the killer with some stylish kills and a surprising amount of well-executed action scenes, including a thrilling speedboat chase through the narrow canals, which crosses over into the surface streets, it really puts to shame the boat chase in The World is Not Enough (1999), this is high-octane stuff, and not something you would normally find in a slasher movie. 

Detective Visser is a divorcee, and has custody of a young daughter named Anneke (Tatum Dagelet), we get a bit with her and a friend looking into the murders themselves, narrowly missing him, but at one point she walks into the bathroom and aims a gun at her father while he's bathing in the tub, and then.... nothing, no follow-up! WTF! This is a Dick Maas film, so I've come to expect some weird humor from him, and this movie does not disappoint, aside from the odd gun-incident Anneke answers the phone only to tell her dad's boss that he's in the bathroom, probably masturbating! There's also a strange pursuit of a youthful offender by Visser that ends in a bakery with the perpetrator face down in a cake, eating frosting with a fun exchange between the baker and cop, I really like director Dick Maas's strange sense of humor here. 

The kills in the flick are pretty great, we get stabbings, decapitations and even a suicide by harpoon gun, there's no shortage of creative kills. The killer in a decked-out in a black wetsuit and comes across like an aquatic version of the miner from My Bloody Valentine (1981) with the heavy breathing through a mask... and flippers, a very cool killer indeed and quite unique. The best kill scene for me was a young women on an inflatable raft that brought to mind Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) and the infamous trampoline scene from Eli Roth's fake-trailer for Thanksgiving (2007), great stuff.

On the downside there are some stretches of film that put the sleepiness right into me, there's a love story I didn't care for, but just as I feared I might be overcome by the sandman we get another great kill or some god awful 80's fashion or a quirky 80's synth music cue that brought me back from the edge of boredom, it's not a perfect film, but it's  an odd 80's Dutch slasher with Giallo-esque tendencies that's certainly entertaining, loaded with action and with a decent body count and a very peculiar sense of humor.

Audio/Video: Amsterdamned (1988) arrives on 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD from Blue Underground, framed in 1080p HD widescreen (1.85:1), benefitting from a 2K restoration from the original camera negative. The movie looks great, the 1.85 framing shows more information than my Shameless Screen Entertainment. Film grain is nicely managed, colors are robust, fine detail is abundant. Audio options include Dutch DTS-HD 5.1; Dutch and English DTS-HD MA 2.0 with optional English subtitles, the Dutch 5.1 wins the day with the most dynamic presentation, but if you;re the kind of person that might prefer the English dubbed track, good news, it's solid, one of the better English dubs in recent memory.
Onto the special features, we begin with a brand new audio commentary with Writer/Director Dick Maas and Editor Hans van Dongen moderated by David Gregory of Severin Films which covers all the facets of making the film. There's also the vintage making of doc which runs 36-minutes, and a new interview with actor Huub Stapel who speaks for nine minutes while on a boat touring the canals of Amsterdam, the very same canal where the speedboat chase happens. He talks favorably talking about director Dick Maas, calling him the only Dutch peer of Paul Verhoeven, speaking about a accident during the speedboat chase scene in which he was injured and laid up for a few days. 

Stunt Coordinator Dickey Beer shows up for an 18-minute interview, he speaks about his start as a stuntman on A Bridge Too Far, before moving to England and working a Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones, and coming back to Holland to work on Amsterdamned. He goes into some great detail about filming the harrowing speedboat scenes and some mishaps along the way.The disc is finished up with a music video for "Amsterdamned" by group Loïs Lane, a song featured during the film;s end credit, directed by Maas, with a serial killer theme. There's also the Dutch and English trailers for the film. There's also an Easter Egg tucked away, more of the interview from Dickey Beer discussing his work on An American werewolf in London

This release comes housed in a Criterion-style thick clear Blu-ray keepcase, with a sleeve of reversible artwork, though I am not such a fan of the reverse option, it looks a bit too photoshop-style layout for my tastes. The Blu-ray and DVD discs mirror the artwork options on the sleeve. This release comes with a 20-page collector's booklet with cast and crew info, chapter selection and a new essay by former Fangoria editor Michael Gingold, plus images from the film, behind-the-scenes pics, and poster artwork.

Reversible Artwork Option 
Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Dick Maas and Editor Hans van Dongen moderated by David Gregory of Severin Films
- The Making of AMSTERDAMNED (36 min) HD
- Tales From The Canal - Interview with Star Huub Stapel (9 min) HD
- Damned Stuntwork – Interview with Stunt Coordinator Dickey Beer (1 min) HD
- Dutch Trailer (3 min) HD
- U.S. Trailer (2 min) HD
- Loïs Lane Music Video – “Amsterdamned” (Directed by Dick Maas)(4 min) HD
- Poster and Still Gallery (85 Images) HD
- BONUS Collectible Booklet with new essay by author Michael Gingold

- Easter Egg: Stunt Coordinator Dickey Beer speaking of his time filming An American Werewolf in London. (2 min) HD 

Amsterdamned (1988) is a fun action-slasher with strong police procedural elements, it's a bit long in the tooth at times but the general weirdness and brutality  of it kept me rapt, and the speedboat chase is damn epic. The new 2K restoration from Blue Underground looks and sounds fantastic and we get some nifty extras, this amphibious Dutch slasher classic has never looked better.

ATTENTION: From the Blue Underground Facebook page on September 5th 2017: 

After the AMSTERDAMNED Blu-ray was shipped to customers, we were made aware of some minor compression issues. Therefore, we corrected and will be offering a replacement V2 Blu-ray disc.

If you purchased AMSTERDAMNED and the Blu-ray Disc Art does not have Item# “BLU-BD-7072-V2” on it, you may request a replacement Blu-ray Disc by sending an email to You MUST include the following information in your email to qualify for a replacement disc:
· Your Name
· Complete Mailing Address (including country if outside the U.S.)
· Copy of sales receipt showing purchase of the AMSTERDAMNED Collector’s Edition
The V2 Blu-ray Discs will be available to mail out in approximately 4 weeks. We thank you for your continued support and patience!
THE LIFT and DOWN Blu-ray releases have been slightly delayed to ensure they don’t have the same issue.