Monique van de Ven
Door van Boeckelee
Eurp Cop Thriller Slasher
Trivia Originally the VHS release of this was cut and rated 18. Now the uncut version has been released as a 15. Haven't times changed?
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28th Aug 09
A diver hiding in Amsterdam's canal system embarks on a killing spree.
It's the late 80s and a mysterious killer is stalking the canals of Amsterdam. First a prostitute is killed and her blood-soaked body is found hanging from one of Amsterdam's famous canal bridges, then a charity worker is slaughtered on her way home from work, with a full collection box left behind. That's just the start and soon Amsterdam is gripped with serial killer hysteria. The murders seem unconnected except for their violent nature, but with the Mayor getting rather anxious, the case is assigned to one of Amsterdam's finest, a hard drinking, hard living maverick cop Eric Visser (played with great conviction by the unlikely named Huub Stapel) who's kept grounded by the teenage daughter he cares for alone after his wife ran off with a musician. This sets the scene for a race against time - can Eric find the killer before he kills again?
All clues point to the killer being a diver (the oxygen tank gauge at the scene of the first crime is a bit of a giveaway), but even with his yellow wetsuit wearing old buddy diving expert (and ex-wife's former beau) drafted in to help they're still at a loose end, and the clock is ticking. Who can it be? It's not Huub, that's for sure, but the yellow wetsuit diving buddy isn't so easy to rule out. Could it be the police chief? Or maybe the Mayor? What about the dodgy sounding guy who runs the local diving club, who takes an instant dislike when Huub starts nosing around asking questions? Or what about that loose chick he meets there, the one with the sleazy psychiatrist friend who keeps popping up in the movie for no apparent reason? You know, the one that used to dive but doesn't any more after his friend was disfigured in a hideous diving accident? Hmmm...
Part slasher, part giallo and full-on advertising tourist video for Amsterdam, Amsterdamned is just as much fun as you remember it if you've ever seen in on VHS. It has everything you could ask from a Euro-cop movie, so much so that at times, especially if you watch the dubbed version, it's hard not to assume this is an Italian production. The murderous sequences are classic stalk and slash, the kind of thing you used to associate with the American slasher boom until you started appreciating the giallos of the early 70s and realised it had all been done before across the continent and just as good. There's quite a decent amount of claret too, reinforced by Dick Maas' dark sense of humour which elevates a few key scenes in to the very memorable category (the blood soaked prostitute corpse hanging from the bridge that ends up being dragged along the glass topped tourist barge filled with school kids and a couple of nuns is a particular highlight). Similarly the cop movie action sequences are loads of fun - there's a good but short car chase at the beginning that pokes fun at Amsterdam's complicated road and canal bridge system by having one cop car run into a bollard on a little hump bridge, but the money sequence is easily the river boat chase which seems to go on for ages and wrecks a few Amsterdam landmarks, including a canalside cafe I swear blind I've frequented. It even ends with a massive explosion, which is a real crowd pleaser.
Why Amsterdamned hasn't been released on DVD before after the breakout hit it was on VHS is anyone's guess, but now it's finally here it rams home how good the original was. Doing a film in Amsterdam with Dutch actors and a Dutch crew, but making the film marketable enough for a Stateside release and spanning both the horror slasher and action cop thriller genres is a tall order for anyone, but Amsterdam never misses a beat. Okay perhaps a couple of the murders are clichéd and we have seen some of that before, but considering it's 20 years old it has aged very well indeed. The only grumbles you could have are that the ending could be conceived as a let down, Huub's daughter's character is pointless enough for him to ignore her for most of the film and it's quite easy to work out who the killer is early on, but it's great fun getting there. And I haven't seen Amsterdam ever look this much fun on film, I think I'd like to go again actually.
Versions Recently release uncut on DVD in the UK in a widescreen transfer with optional English or Dutch dialoge.