(Netherlands - 1988)
Written and directed by Dick Maas. Cast: Huub Stapel, Monique van de Ven, Wim Zomer, Serge-Henri Valcke, Hidde Maas, Tanneke Hartzuiker, Lou Landre, Tatum Dagelet, Edwin Bakker, Pieter Lutz, Barbara Martijn, Door van Boekel, Lettie Oosthoek, Jaap Stobbe, Freark Smink. (R, 113 mins)
A movie guaranteed to be on the shelf of any video store you walked into in the late '80s into the mid '90s, the brilliantly-titled AMSTERDAMNED has acquired a major cult following over the decades and is finally available on Blu-ray courtesy of Blue Underground. Dutch writer/director Dick Maas cut his teeth on music videos like Golden Earring's 1982 hit "Twilight Zone" before establishing himself with genre fans with the 1983 possessed elevator saga THE LIFT, which Blue Underground will be releasing on Blu-ray in October, along with Maas' little-seen 2001 US remake DOWN, aka THE SHAFT. After the 1986 comedy FLODDER (the first in very popular series of movies and TV spinoffs in the Netherlands), Maas returned to the thriller/horror genre with AMSTERDAMNED, an action-driven Dutch giallo, with Amsterdam in a state of panic over a string of murders committed by a maniac in scuba gear who emerges from the canals to claim his victims before going back to the water undetected. Plays-by-his-own-rules cop Eric Visser (Maas regular Huub Stapel) frantically pursues the killer, perpetually one step behind and following multiple leads that prove to be dead ends.
STUNT ROCK before spending the late '70s and most of the '80s alternating between Hollywood and Holland, logging guest appearances on TV shows like STARSKY AND HUTCH, REMINGTON STEELE and VOYAGERS! while also starring in Dutch films like Fons Rademakers' THE ASSAULT, the 1986 Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film. In addition to the giallo-style murders, the big standout in AMSTERDAMNED is a pair of chase sequences, one involving a motorcycle that's short but extremely well-crafted, the other a stunning speedboat chase through the canals (though most of this sequence was shot in Utrecht) with some death-defying stunt work, most of which was done by Stapel himself, who was knocked out of commission for three weeks after a boat crashed into a wall in one on-location mishap. The AMSTERDAMNED speedboat chase is one of the great unheralded movie chases, thanks in large part to veteran stunt coordinator Dickey Beer, who's worked on several Bond movies among countless others (his most recent credit was for some stunt driving on XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE and he's working on the upcoming JURASSIC WORLD sequel), and stunt legend Vic Armstrong, another Bond vet who served as stunt double for Christopher Reeve on the SUPERMAN movies and for Harrison Ford's first three turns as Indiana Jones. AMSTERDAMNED runs a little long and could use some trimming in the first hour (as entertaining as Dagelet's scenes are, she doesn't really serve a purpose), but ultimately, it's a clever, atmospheric, and frequently hair-raising thrill ride that takes full advantage of its unique setting in a city with 160 canals totaling 25 miles, where a madman can literally be swimming anywhere under the surface to strike at any moment. Also, try to get the closing credits tune by Dutch pop duo Lois Lane out of your head.