Amsterdamned Review

The Film

I have only ever met one person from Holland. They were drunk, leery, and quite promiscuous with a penchant for home horticulture. I realise that this is quite a stereotype but my admittedly limited exposure to Dutch cinema has led me to reinforce my prejudices about a somewhat freer cultural environment than the one I grew up in.

Writer-director Dick Maas, like fellow Dutchman Paul Verhoeven, believes in giving the audience what they want and upsetting traditional opinion along the way. His serial killer thriller on review introduces the foreign spectator to a Dutch capital of prostitution, misogynist taxi drivers and homicidal frogmen. Shady, sleazy and thoroughly excessive, Amsterdamned is a bit of a treat.
Macho, rule breaking eighties hairdo cop, Eric Visser, is brought in to crack the case of a young woman who has been discovered, in excitingly vulgar fashion, by a boatload of tourists and, rather fantastically, some appalled nuns. Soon more of the populace are disappearing when they prowl the edges of the city's canals, and those who take to relaxing on the lilo in these very murky depths are suffering more than a slight chill.

It's basically the Sweeney meets slash and stalk, and cliche and familar genre artefacts are plentiful. The expendable partner, the single father backstory and the suspicious psychiatrist are dusted off along with car and boat chases aplenty. The simple joy of visual gags and somewhat iffy humour mean that this is all very endearing in a slightly parodic way. What action there is is very capably done and the cast all do their best with the stereotypes they play.

Without the mickey taking of the tourist image and the bloodthirsty bouts of aquatic mayhem this might have been rather run of the mill. There is enough of a certain style and wit to allow the excess and the silliness to win through, and to charm cult fans thoroughly. It's entertaining as another riff on the Euro-crime film or an attempt at a Dutch giallo and well worth checking out.

Technical Specs

This transfer has been handled very well. The basic print exhibits a little age in terms of whites not being as bright as once but the desires to sharpen, colour/contrast boost or edge enhance seem to have been fought off. The result is mildly soft yet very like watching celluloid and looks very nice even on a 70 inch plus screen. The aspect ratio is advertised as 1.85:1 but much nearer 1.78:1.
A dub and a subbed original sound option are offered. The English dub is not great - "both had partaken of a vegetarian repast" - but the English subs on the Dutch track are jolly good and the audio presented is clear and strong with nothing too noticeable as source or mastering defects.

Special features

Cine-Excess include a proper making of documentary with the disc which follows the shooting and production of the film with interviews with cast, Maas and his producer. Special FX, action and stunt choreography are explored, along with the basic difficulties of shooting on location. Be aware this is a proper documentary rather than one of those making of featurettes we've all got so heartily sick of.

Trailers for the home and US markets follow, along with a slide show of around 20 production stills and poster art. The final extra is Xavier Mendik plugging the coming releases from Cine-Excess with clips from Viva, Suspiria, The House with Laughing Windows, Big Bad Mama and The Bird Cage. Mendik's script has been written by someone with a hard-on for alliteration, but sit back and enjoy the clips instead of listening to him.


An offbeat and unusual film delivered with cliche and stereotypes galore. This new release is all region and a good transfer, it'd be a shame not to pick it up.

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