Amsterdamned (1988) Review


You have to hand it to Amsterdamned – it’s got one hell of a gimmick. By 1988, the slasher genre had given us killers who hid their faces behind hockey masks, gasmasks, clown masks, William Shatner masks, owl masks, pillow cases, chunks of stitched-together human skin… It was only a matter of time before one came along in full scuba gear. But Amsterdamned’s killer isn’t just in it for the Lycra and heavy-breathing. He (or she!) actually swims around the canals of Amsterdam, popping out to drag victims to a watery grave! Yes, you read that right. There is popping, there is killing, and there is also a giant knife in case the victims aren’t in the mood for a dip.

Amsterdamned is basically a Dutch giallo, but one that’s as much informed by slashers as it is Italian sleaze. As the murders mount up via a series of violently effective, Jaws-like set pieces, Detective Eric Visser (Huub Stapel) is called in to catch the underwater killer. Visser gets results – he’s the kind of cop who jumps out of his car when stuck in traffic and thwarts a hold-up in a pastry shop (this is Europe) before getting back behind the wheel and driving off. He also looks a bit like Greg Evigan and has a smart-mouthed teenaged daughter who, in a genius subplot, is tracking the killer herself, with the help of a psychic friend.

It’s all terrifically fast-paced, being mainstream enough to appeal to thriller fans but just perverse and nasty enough to satisfy slasher aficionados (check out the killer’s souvenir-stocked lair, as well as the final gruesome reveal of their identity). Fittingly, it’s also swimming with red herrings, the most devious of which is a psychiatry motif that calls the sanity of a number of characters into question.

Dozens of startling stunts, seemingly performed in real-time, lend a genuine sense of danger to the proceedings – none more so than in the first of the movie’s two climaxes, which famously finds cop and killer tearing around the tight waterways of the city in speedboats. The second, equally effective final sequence brings Amsterdamned back to its slasher roots with an unbearably tense bit of hiding-from-the-killer on the part of the film’s final girl.

amsterdamned1For anyone wishing to pick this up – and you should be – the UK’s Nouveaux Pictures/Cine-Excess label has recently released a fine region 2 DVD, featuring an uncut widescreen transfer (the previous UK release on video lost a few seconds of a knife appearing between a girl’s legs) and a front cover that makes it look like a UFO movie. Special features include a nice making-of documentary from the 80s, but best of all is that fact that you can choose from the original Dutch language track with English subtitles or an English dub. The latter has taken some criticism for that fact that many of its actors speak with a sort of vaguely Dutch accent, but I consider it one of the best and least distracting dubs I’ve ever heard (in fact, I even forgot I was watching a dubbed version at times). Either way, with both language options available, everyone should feel catered for. The fear-soaked Amsterdamned is definitely one to splash out on.

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7 Responses to “ Amsterdamned (1988) Review ”

  1. I’ve been wanting to track this for the past month. Haven’t heard of it for long.

    Oh, and can anyone tell me where disappeared to? Suddenly, it says it doesn’t exist and redirects me. Funny how that happens at this certain time. :|

  2. TBC is back, they have a bit of trouble with hosting from time to time.

  3. It isn’t back for me. :( Typical, almost got rid of a movie in the Slash Survivor, and suddenly I can’t get onto the site. Hmm…lol

  4. I found a VHS of Amsterdamned about a year ago back for $1.50, still havent watched it yet but it looks cool

  5. This is one of my favorite slashers. Good plot, good gore and effects and genuinly scary. It also helps that I’m dutch myself.

    You should also check Intensive Care, a hilarious but ultra bloody slashermovie also from Holland. It even features George Kennedy.

  6. I remember we had this at the video store I worked at in the early 90s — and I NEVER rented it. How dumb was that?!? I so need to see this… uh, NOW!

  7. Hey, a dutchman here. In Holland this is considered a minor classic, and yeah, it’s good cheesy fun. Some of the speedboatchases on the canals we’re filmed in Utrecht, and there is even a cameo of dutch documentary director (and oscar winner) Bert Haanstra, who spoofs his own movie Fanfare. Dick Maas also made The Lift, wich is in itself a good cheesy horrormovie (but no slasher, sadly).

    Intensive Care however, is an incredibly bad movie. It’s an hilariously bad movie wich has one very infamous scène: somebody who is stabbed multiple times, and has huge open gaping wounds is offered a tiny plastic band-aid…

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