Subscribe to Bigsmash!

The Psychotronic Tourist: AMSTERDAMNED

22/06/2013 18:58 by Kier-La Janisse

tl_files/media/images/dinghydeathlobby.jpg

In what could be seen as the ultimate anti-tourism film, Dutch enfant terrible Dick Maas paints Amsterdam’s historic canals blood red as a scuba-diving serial killer roams the waters, slashing victims with a giant diving knife. 

The film has been oft-described as a Dutch giallo, and indeed the plot does bear shades of Dino Tavella’s THE EMBALMER (1965) – in which a skull-faced scuba-diving killer brings his victims to an underwater lair in Venice – not to mention the earlier German krimi film THE INN ON THE RIVER (1962) in which a killer known as ‘The Shark’ is stalking victims along the Thames with a spear gun*.  But even aside from the compelling aesthetic of the labyrinthine canals, AMSTERDAMNED remains one of the best action thrillers an exploitation fan could hope for, complete with gruesome murder setpieces and a white-knuckle speedboat chase (inspired by a similar chase in the 1971 film PUPPET ON A CHAIN).

Returning from Maas’ earlier international hit THE LIFT (1983) – as well as Maas’ disturbing video for Golden Earring that references it (which you can see HERE) – is 80s Dutch heartthrob Huub Stapel, playing the homicide detective on the case (with the craziest case of permanent 5 o’clock shadow EVER), alongside Dutch cutie Monique van de Ven, who – after breaking out in Paul Verhoeven’s TURKISH DELIGHT – tried to cross over to the North American market and only succeeded in landing a leading role in Brian Trenchard-Smith’s cult classic STUNT ROCK before returning to Holland (a score all the same!).

Like most films, AMSTERDAMNED has some creative geography, and the film’s title is still a bone of contention (or a point of pride, conversely) for Utrecht residents, whose own canal system, with its low-lying sidewalk cafés, was a major star in the chase scenes. But despite this and other detours from topographical reality, with AMSTERDAMNED Maas crafts a love letter that both showcases the region’s most breathtaking architectural structures and exoticizes them in a way that any ‘psychotronic tourist’ can appreciate.

I was joined on the tour by Dutch journalist Michael Minneboo and Schokkend Nieuws Filmmagazine Editor / Imagine Fantastic Film Festival programmer Barend de Voogd, the latter of whom spectacularly arranged for director Dick Maas (!) to accompany us for an afternoon boat ride revisiting some of the canal locations, 25 years after the fact. We were shocked when he nonchalantly announced that it was his birthday. “Why would you spend your birthday with a bunch of strangers?” I asked. He shrugged. “There’s nothing else to do on a birthday.”

FOR THE FULL TOUR, INCLUDING PICTURES, LOCATION HISTORY AND MAPS, SEE MY PSYCHOTRONIC TOURIST COLUMN ON THE FANGORIA WEBITE HERE.

FOR A VIDEO DIARY OF THE BOAT TRIP, SEE HERE (INCUDES SUBTITLES!)

Go back