Amsterdamned (Dick Maas, 1988)

posted in: Duane, Review | 0
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A deranged killer is prowling the streets of Amsterdam at night using the canals as the means of stalking his victims… it appears that nobody is safe. As city officials scramble to get a handle on the situation, a hardened detective, along with his teenage daughter and her inept psychic friend, struggle to piece together the clues in order to end the diver’s reign of terror.
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I’ve avoided Amsterdamned for years based on the cover alone. Something about that image of the diver rushing toward me – knife in hand – made me think it was some sort of underwater adventure film  (What can I say? I’m all about the Eurosluts getting menaced by some psycho in a ski mask…) and as a result I never bothered with it. So, when Shameless announced their intent on re-releasing Amsterdamned on DVD I jumped all over that shit – even if it was just to see what I had been missing. Underwater adventure? Not even close.

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This quirky little bit of scuba porn by Dick Maas (The Lift; Sint) starts out swimmingly (sorry) but soon runs out of steam and fails to make much more of a splash (come on… this shit writes itself) for the remainder of the film.  In fact I dare say that Amsterdamned boasts one of the best opening kill/aftermath sequences I have ever been privy to. Starting out in a brooding pseudo-tour of the Amsterdam canal system though the eyes of the killer, setting a dark and foreboding tone for the first segment (and murder) that proves to be both unique and very effective. Soon we are treated to a scene where a prostitute is selected and brutally stabbed in an alleyway by a diver in full gear while the camera stays a fair distance away giving everything an eerie voyeuristic quality not unlike some of the early scenes in Halloween II. Eventually the poor lass is dragged into the canal as if by some obsidian monster and turns up the next day strung up and inverted beneath a bridge… only to be discovered by a passing canal tour boat in a sequence that really needs to be seen to be appreciated. Unfortunately, the remainder of the film fails to hold water (Last one, I promise!!!).

Sadly, Amsterdamned really shies away from any sort of graphic violence or sleaze and feels more like a toned down thriller despite ample opportunity to make things a lot more interesting. It appears as if the film is trying to be too many things at once… slasher, giallo, poliziotteschi, thriller… and fails at all of them in one way or another.
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Speaking of missed opportunities… there is an admittedly potentially awesome scene involving a girl on an inflatable raft and the diver’s knife punching through right between her legs, inching toward her crotch… only to be met with a cut away, never to be seen again. No aftermath, nothing. Few things infuriate me more than this sort of thing… I mean, what’s the fucking point? The rest of the film is riddled with our hero the detective (Huub Stapel; Sint) trying to solve the case and/or bang his new girlfriend, constantly reminding the viewer that the film takes placed in Amsterdam (if it weren’t for the emphasis on how filthy the canals are I’d have sworn it was financed by the Dutch tourism board) intercut with scenes of diving gear and murky underwater shenanigans.  There are a few notable bits – namely an underwater fight between two divers in a sunken boat and an extended speedboat chase through the canals (which is a reference to the film Puppet on a Chain, even down to the color of the watercraft) – but none of this manages to make up for the limp and disappointing horror/sleaze elements or lack thereof. I have to hand it to them though, the crew was certainly talented in the stunt department – some of the action sequences look downright dangerous.

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I’ve heard a lot of praise about Amsterdamned over the years, but Argento this ain’t. It’s an entertaining film in its own right, packed full of action sequences, murder, umm.. diving… worthy of a look based on the uniqueness of the approach alone. Avid divers will want to viddy this and geek out about depth gauges or wetsuits or something too. I’m not gonna lie, this really could have been a great film if they had avoided going the mainstream route and instead gave us a lot more titties and gore.

Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:

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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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