Just when you think you’ve seen all the great gritty thrillers from the eighties, Amsterdamned appears and immediately puts a smile on your face. I loved every single minute of it. There are just so many great things about that I constantly wanted to jab someone in the ribs and yell at them look at this shot, look at this editing, look at this transition. Luckily, I watched it alone. As you might have guessed, the story takes place in Amsterdam and takes advantage of its intricate network of canals over 100 miles long.
If you’ve ever visited the Venice of the North, the movie will have a special flavor. Especially since it’s an eighties movie with all the things that went with that era. It feels really authentic and has this time-capsule vibe that I just fell in love with. It’s like you’re able to travel through time and see how the city looked and how people behaved. Director and writer, Dick Maas, takes its time to carefully build the atmosphere and really immerse us in not just the story but the feel of the city and its inhabitants. Every scene is meticulously set up and feels realistic.
Amsterdamned is perfectly positioned somewhere between tongue-in-cheek and real thrills. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but it still manages to create this unsettling atmosphere. After all, we are following a hard-boiled police detective trying to catch a serial killer. And while it may seem it’s a simplistic slasher, this is truly an underrated masterpiece with a lot of moving parts and interesting concepts. The very fact that our killer is using the canals to stalk and kill its victims is simply brilliant. It’s like Jaws but with a man in a wetsuit instead of the shark.
After a woman’s body has been found hanging on a bridge in Amsterdam, detective Eric Visser takes over the case. The only witness insists that the woman was killed by a monster that came from the nearby canal. A canal where it subsequently dragged its victim. Is there really a monster that’s killing people or the culprit is much more real. One thing is sure, the murders are quite real and our hero Eric is running out of time. You might even say that he’s amsterdamned…
The characters are fun and likable with our detective Eric Visser played by Huub Stapel stealing the show. He was just so cool and smooth. Eighties leather jacket, jeans and cigarette in the corner of his lips smooth. And you have to remember that this is a Dutch movie. It rivals any of the cult serial killer slashers from the eighties and adds a special flavor to the genre. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of similar movies but this one will feel different and original.
The first Dick Maas movie I saw was Prey, a thriller about a lion loose in Amsterdam, while I was going through my movies about lions phase. You could just feel that this man knew what he was doing so when I checked out his other movies, Amsterdamned just popped out. The thing that surprised me most about it were the stunts that were just perfect. You would expect them in some big Hollywood buddy cop movie but not in this obscure European thriller/horror.
Car chases, boat chases, you name it, everything looks tight and eighties stunt-dangerous. Stuntmen were really risking their lives doing them. Actually, during one of the boat chases, after a stuntman steered the boat in the wrong way, Huub crashed into a fucking wall. He survived but with a rib sticking out of his chest and fucked up fingers. Maas revels in juicy, slightly over-the-top and incredibly entertaining scenes that he uses relatively early on to show you what this movie is about. And the transitions between scenes are just brutally funny.
Director: Dick Maas
Writer: Dick Maas
Cast: Huub Stapel, Monique van de Ven, Serge-Henri Valcke, Hidde Maas, Lou Landré, Pieter Lutz
Fun Facts: Dick Maas passed on the opportunity to direct a sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) in order to do this film. He later stated that he should have postponed Amsterdamned, as the Elm Street sequel could have been his international breakthrough.