October 21, 2012

Filthy Review - 'Amsterdamned'

Amsterdamned (1988)

Review by Jude Felton

As a movie collector I am a little late in the game when it has come to the releases by the English label Shameless Screen Entertainment. I have a few on my shelf, with more on their way, and I have to say that I like what they are doing. Their latest release is the Dutch flick Amsterdamned, a title that is slightly obscure, more so with a younger audience, but I recall it getting a quite substantial VHS release back in the day.

The film is directed by Dick Maas, who recently came back to the fore with the festive shocker Sint (Saint) in 2010, and is very much a Dutch blend of the slasher and giallo sub-genres. The film was originally released in 1988, which was really the ass-end of the slasher boom, with audiences having been treated to all manner of masked killers in all sorts of locations. 

However, whereas most slasher flicks were set in relatively remote locations, Amsterdamned puts the action firmly in the middle of Amsterdam (as if you hadn’t guessed from the title).
There’s a killer stalking the canals of the Dutch city and, rather than go about their business on foot, this killer is fully decked out in scuba gear and attacks its victims by literally leaping out of the city’s many canals, and dispatching of them in a variety of ways, with a big-ass knife and harpoon gun being popular weapons.

Called in to investigate the first murder, of one of Amsterdam’s ladies of the night, is Eric Visser, who at first is at a loss of where to start. The only witness being a homeless woman who describes the killer as a monster with red claws, and the police aren’t too convinced about her reliability. The suspects are soon on display though, in classic giallo fashion, but Maas is playing his cards close to his chest and is happy to keep you guessing as to who the killer might be.

Also thrown into the mix is a sub-plot involving Visser’s daughter, although this is seemingly forgotten about halfway through the movie, and Visser’s relationship with a member of the local scuba diving club, and it is here where the majority of the film focuses on, when it is not concerned with the actual killer.

Amsterdamned is a pretty damned decent movie; the action moves along at a good clip, with some great chase scenes (one in particular being pretty spectacular), good solid set-pieces involving the killer and more than enough going on to keep your attention throughout. As a slasher/giallo, Amsterdamned is not especially gruesome, although there is a fair amount of blood on display and one particular scene is uncomfortable viewing, even if it isn’t in the slightest bit graphic. If you check out the accompanying artwork, at the top of this review, you will know exactly what I mean.

This Shameless Fan Edition of Amsterdamned is very nice. It isn’t jam-packed with extras, but there are a few, which include reversible cover artwork, an extensive making of piece with Dick Maas which is really quite excellent, a photo gallery and the English, American and Dutch trailers. The film is also shown in its originally uncut version, which was cut for the initial release, and in its original format.

Personally I would have liked to have seen an audio commentary included (but that is just the commentary freak in me), but such is life and the film and interview with Maas more than make this an essential purchase. Amsterdamned is a thoroughly entertaining movie that is well put together and keeps the thrills coming. If you haven’t seen the film before, now is your chance, and if you have seen it, I am sure you will want to revisit it.

Amsterdamned is released on DVD on October 22nd by Shameless Screen Entertainment and can be ordered here.

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