Color, 1988, 113 mins. 17 secs.
Directed by Dick Maas
Starring Huub Stapel, Monique van de Ven, Serge-Henri Valcke, Hidde Maas, WIm Zomer, Tatum Dagelet
Blue Underground (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC), StudioCanal (Blu-ray & DVD) (Germany RB/R2 HD/PAL) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), Shameless, Nouveaux (DVD) (UK R2 PAL), Filmedia (DVD) (France R2 PAL) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Following Amsterdamnedthe success of Amsterdamnedhis stylish killer elevator film, The Lift, Dutch writer-director Dick Maas decided to turn Holland's capital city into a murderer's playground for Amsterdamned, a slick updating of the sort of giallo/cop film hybrid found in earlier Italian films like What Have They Done to Your Daughters? Here we have a serial killer, described by one eyewitness as a "monster" with "huge claws and feet," clad in sinister scuba gear (a la The Embalmer) prowling the canals of Amsterdam looking for fresh victims.

Assigned to the case of the nautical lunatic is respected but flawed cop Eric Vissler (Stapel), who's recently divorced with custody of his precocious daughter, Anneke (Dagelet). He's brought in when the first high-profile victim, a hooker, gets strung up from a bridge in broad daylight and dragged bloodily across a glass-roofed tour boat. Soon two more men performing a water study fall prey to the killer, sending Eric on the hunt for suspects among the city's skilled divers. Along the way he strikes up a romance with Rijksmuseum guide Laura (Turkish Delight's van de Ven) and joins forces with an old police colleague, AmsterdamnedJohn (Zomer), as the body count across Amsterdam continues to rise. Amsterdamned

Though usually categorized as a horror film, Amsterdamned is also heavy on the cop thriller conventions and even features a spectacular mid-film boat chase across the city that outdoes the already epic one in Puppet on a Chain. It's helpful going in to know that this isn't really a whodunit; the killer's identity isn't something you're supposed to guess and comes a bit out of left field, so just sit back and enjoy the cheap thrills without thinking about it too hard. The very strong cast goes a long way to sell the conventional material, with Stapel and van de Ven having plenty of chemistry and giving it all more weight and charisma than the usual cop/damsel in distress dynamic. It's little wonder the film became a hot property for Vestron, who released in dubbed in theaters and in separate dubbed and subtitled versions on home video (on VHS and in a slightly letterboxed laserdisc via Image Entertainment). Though the Dutch track is preferable, the English dub is actually quite good as far as these things go since most of the leads spoke excellent English and provided their own voices.

AmsterdamnedThough it vanished off the American video scene for decades, AmsterdamnedAmsterdamned has been readily available in Europe including subtitled letterboxed DVDs in the UK from Nouveaux and Shameless as well as Blu-rays in Germany and Holland (not English friendly, the latter pretty sketchy and censored). It's a very '80s film stock look that's been a challenge over the years with very inconsistent results. The best option by a long shot is the 2017 dual-format release from Blue Underground, featuring a 2K scan approved by Maas and a transfer featuring the maximum amount of frame information (far more than most past releases) as well as much richer black levels and natural film grain. Some problem shots that looked blurry or out of focus on other transfers (such as the blonde floating on the raft, seen at left) are also crisp and clear here. Audio options include the original Dutch track in DTS-HD MA 5.1 (which sounds great) or 2.0 (the original Dolby Stereo mix), the English dub (DTS-HD 2.0 Dolby Stereo mix), or French (Dolby Digital), with subtitle options including English (translated from the Dutch track), English SDH (for the dub), or Spanish.

The film can also be played with a new audio commentary with Maas and editor Hans van Dongen, moderated by David Gregory, which covers just about every aspect you can imagine about the production including scouting city locations (with some covert red light district filming), Stapel's boat-related arm injury that affected some other scenes, Amsterdamnedthe much heftier budget Amsterdamnedcompared to Maas' previous film, and the influence of popular trends like the slasher film. The vintage "The Making of Amsterdamned" (36m15s) features a wealth of making-of footage and interviews with a wide variety of crew members, with quite a bit of coverage of the big boat chase. Also included is a Loïs Lane "Amsterdamned" music video (directed by Maas), which is pretty wild with a knife-wielding killer on the loose as the band sings inside a sewer and blood splashes all over tourist signs. You even get to see Stapel wailing on a sax for a few seconds! The new "Tales from the Canal" (8m38s) features the star riding down some familiar scenery as he recalls making the film, including a discussion of his arm injury and the good fortune of his career in film versus TV and theater. Stunt coordinator Dickey Beer appears next in "Damned Stuntwork" (18m12s), which begins with his entry into filmmaking as a dead body opposite James Caan and a gig on Spetters before moving to this film and some big England-shot productions like Return of the Jedi. Also included are the Dutch and American theatrical trailers, a gallery of poster and video art and lobby cards, and extensive liner notes by Michael Gingold about the film's production and release history.

Reviewed on August 16, 2017