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Amsterdamned (1988)

Nomination Year: 2014
SYNOPSIS:  When you think of Amsterdam, what's the first thing that springs to mind?

No, not the red light district. Or the 'hash bars.'

That's right, the very first thing you think of is the canals! Made famous by their gorgeous views of fantastic renaissance architecture and the colorfully garbed gondoliers who ply their waters...

What? That's Venice?

Huh. Well, as it turns out, Amsterdam has canals too, and in this movie there's someone - or something - swimming around down there and killing people.

Before I go into the gory details, take a look at the title of the movie again. Amsterdamned. Makes you think there's some sort of Satanic cult or supernatural activity going on, right? And, to be fair, for the first two or three attacks it's not entirely clear who or what is killing folks. Fortunately for the city (but unfortunately for any sense of supernatural horror), the main character is Eric Visser, a brilliant police detective who pretty quickly realizes that the killer is a person in SCUBA gear.

From then on in, it's pretty much a straightforward 'whodunnit' with some good action sequences and some decent bits of suspense and psychological tension. Unfortunately for the movie (but fortunately for the Smithees), there are some gaping flaws in how these good bits are delivered.

The brilliant police detective seems like the only person in this movie who isn't actively trying to get killed off. Seriously, if there's a city-wide panic about a killer in the canals, do you really think it's a good time to take your girl down to the canals in the middle of the night and split up so that you can jump out and surprise her? Or to go diving alone to investigate a newly sunken ship? Or to go sunbathing in an inflatable raft?

And filmmakers? If the canals, and the rain, and the water are such a central feature of your film, shouldn't you be more careful about keeping track from shot to shot which actors are soaking wet and which are bone dry?

And the title... Gah. Well, one fun thing about it is the number of opportunties during the movie for making jokes with similar portmanteau words. "He's been in the water, but he isn't even Amsterdamp!" "The victim's body was Amsterdumped." "I think that guy is Amsterdoomed." "Does the cop's gun go 'Amsterblam?'"

I'm not going to give away the ending, because the wry twist that they put in is actually kind of clever. And the main character is much less of an idiot than everybody else in the film. But that's not enough to keep us from pointing out all of the other mistakes that were just plain Amsterdumb.

"Wanna Run That By Me Again?"

Chatting 1, Seance 0.
Eric comes comes from work, and his daughter is sitting at the table with a schoolmate (Willy), and the lights are out in the apartment. Willy's trying to contact his dead aunt psychically. Eric and his daughter discuss this until Willy gives up. "You're talking.... A torrent of words is like a torrent of water.... It pollutes the stratosphere!" Uh-huh.

Best One-Liner

Out of the mouths of babes.
Eric is in the bathtub when his house phone rings. His daughter answers the phone. "Hello, the Visser Residence," she says. "He's in the john. I expect that he's masturbating. Eric, telephone for you! It's headquarters."

Smithee Award Winner! Inane Dialogue

Someone is all wet here.
Eric is at the Amsterdam Dive Club, watching a few scubra divers practicing. One climbs out of the water in front of him and takes off her hood. She's a beautiful woman. "You're all wet," Eric says.

Worst Picture

Amster--de end of de movie?
The killer is running away in a powerboat, and Eric is chasing it in a powerboat. They have a long and involving chase through the canals of Amsterdam (including a point at which they're being paced by the cops on land). They go around an orchestra boat. Up, onto, and across a bunch of tables at the water's edge. Finally, as the killer is escaping, he turns back to look at the Eric's pursuit, and fails to notice the large fuel boat that's slowly pulling in front of him. He runs into the boat at full speed, and there's a great fiery explosion.

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Huub Stapel  
Monique van de Ven  
Director Claim to Fame
Dick Maas also wrote, produced, and composed the music for Amsterdamned 

Kevin Hogan

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© 2011-2019 Bryan D. Cassidy, Greg Pearson, Matthew Quirk, and Kevin Hogan. All Rights Reserved.