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Posts Tagged ‘Dick Maas’

Saint Nick (Sint)

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

I’ve got this problem that I always want some good Christmas horror movies I haven’t seen before, but also I assume any of them coming out this century are gonna be boring, cheap garbage. Yes, KRAMPUS (2015) is semi-recent and has become an annual tradition for me already, but does that mean I should give a shot to the unrelated KRAMPUS: THE CHRISTMAS DEVIL (2014), KRAMPUS: THE RECKONING (2015), KRAMPUS: THE DEVIL RETURNS (2016), KRAMPUS UNLEASHED (2016) or KRAMPUS: ORIGINS (2018)? So far I have assumed no. In this same spirit, I was curious, but didn’t make it a priority, to watch the 2010 Dutch killer Santa type movie SAINT NICK (also released here as SAINT, originally SINT).

And then this year happened! Not the bad stuff, but the stuff where I finally caught on to the Dutch writer/director/composer Dick Maas. I enjoyed his killer elevator movie DE LIFT/THE LIFT (1983), his scuba-action-slasher AMSTERDAMNED (1988), his killer elevator English-language remake DOWN (2001) and his killer lion loose in Amsterdam movie PROOIL/UNCAGED (2016). So, okay buddy, I trust you to make a Christmas horror movie now. I’m ready. (read the rest of this shit…)

Uncaged

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

My friends, we have not only come to the conclusion of my exploration of the films of Dick Maas, but the culmination. His first film THE LIFT showed me that the Dutch writer/director has a strong shooting style, a taste for deadpan absurdity, and a knack for quirky character detail. AMSTERDAMNED applies that to a more ambitious I-can’t-believe-I’m-seeing-this story (action-packed scuba slasher), and even his 2001 American THE LIFT remake DOWN is trashy, audacious fun. (I also checked out his Halloween episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which you can read about on Patreon if you’re interested.) Some joy was dampened by the amount of screen time spent on dull procedural business in the ’80s ones, but I liked them all. I’m a fan now.

Let me bring up a completely unrelated director for a second. When I reviewed EXTREME JUSTICE recently I wrote about how Mark L. Lester doesn’t get enough credit for having directed CLASS OF 1984, FIRESTARTER, COMMANDO and SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO. And yet I (rightly or not) have little faith that Lester’s 21st century movies like PTERODACTYL, POSEIDON REX or DRAGONS OF CAMELOT would be worth watching, because I assume they’re not coming from the same place. I had similar feelings when I heard that Maas made a killer lion movie in 2016.

But – holy shit! Maas’ most recent movie – which I found as UNCAGED on Shudder, but it has apparently also been released as PREY – is a new instant favorite. It has most of what I loved about his other films, but way more of it. It’s loaded with quirky characters (both the leads and incidentals) who say and do funny things within the context of a story that is knowingly ridiculous but unashamed to take itself seriously. And unlike those other ones it never slows down for long because it has a high, unforgiving body count and provocatively over-the-top gore to attend to. UNCAGED is a total blast.

(Thank you Martijn for trying to tell me in the comments for THE LIFT. You were right!) (read the rest of this shit…)

Down (a.k.a. The Shaft)

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

“We live in a vertical world. If you can’t trust the elevators, what the fuck can you trust?”

After I got aboard the Dick Maas freight train (or elevator, I guess) I decided I shouldn’t skip his English-language remake of THE LIFT. I guess Artisan released it on DVD as THE SHAFT (with a terrible cover), but Blue Underground went back to the original title of DOWN. (And included 151 minutes of behind the scenes footage!? That’s what it says. I didn’t watch it.) One of those stock photo places has a poster from some territory using the DOWN title and it’s ugly but has the excellent tagline “You May Want to Take the Stairs…”

This is part of that strange phenomenon of overseas films remade for American/western audiences by the original director – see also THE VANISHING, NIGHTWATCH, FUNNY GAMES, 13 TZAMETI – but those are usually new directors who caught the eye of Hollywood and were seduced into some shenanigans. “Yeah, it’s great, we loved it, but make it in English now.” This is different because it’s a minor cult movie from 18 full years earlier. In an interview with Rumsey Taylor Maas said that he’d had offers for an American remake since the original movie came out, but was occupied with other projects. But by the ’90s when they were still asking, “Somehow I began taking to the idea… Elevators are a crucial part of American life, so why didn’t it become a subject for one of your big blockbusters? I tried to help you by doing it myself.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Amsterdamned

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

After watching THE LIFT as part of my hard hitting Summer of 1985 coverage I knew to pay more attention to this Dutch writer/director/composer Dick Maas. And some of you had already recommended his 1988 scuba-slasher epic AMSTERDAMNED.

As the miraculous once-in-a-lifetime perfect title indicates, it takes place in Amsterdam, and yes, it’s about a serial killer swimming around the canals and surfacing to murder people. I love that it opens with a HALLOWEEN style first-person stalking, because as is traditional you hear his heavy breathing, but this time it’s the sound of breathing in a scuba mask. When we do see him it’s a good slasher look because it’s functional but also creepy, fetishy, and all black.

The outsized scumminess of Maas’ Amsterdam is established by the cab driver who picks up a prostitute after a long day of work, first harasses and then tries to rape her before dumping her off far from home. And after being victimized by him the diver finds her. (read the rest of this shit…)

Happy October + Patreon bonus: Young Indy Halloween episode

Friday, October 2nd, 2020

Happy October, everyone! I’ll be celebrating the impending pandemic Halloween with my usual flurry of horror movie reviews, hopefully including at least a little slasher searching (though I don’t know how many undiscovered gems could possibly be left on earth). I’m also happy to say that I’m in the process of finally publishing my action-horror novel WORM ON A HOOK – I will of course post incessantly about it as soon as it’s available.

I should mention that those things are made possible in part by your generous support, including on Patreon, so as a thank you I have a new bonus post over there, this time about a Halloween episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles directed by Dick Maas (THE LIFT). If you missed it last year, I wrote about a pretty funny Halloween episode of Walker: Texas Ranger. I plan to do at least one more Halloween episode post this month.

And this is a good place to ask – what’s everybody been watching and/or recommending this year? I’ve already found and caught up with some good ones, but you guys always tip me off to good stuff.

 

The Lift

Monday, July 6th, 2020

“I don’t much like the lift, I prefer to take the stairs, it’s much safer.”

July 3, 1985

THE LIFT (DE LIFT) is a 1983 Dutch horror film, the feature debut of music video, TV and short film director Dick Maas, who would later direct AMSTERDAMNED. According to The New York Times it played the Waverly starting July 3rd, but I don’t know if it played other cities on that day, or later, or what. It was not in the top 25 at the box office for that weekend, which means it made less than the $2,723 that MOVERS & SHAKERS starring Walter Matthau made on the one screen it had left in its tenth week. So, as with WARRIORS OF THE WIND and THE STUFF earlier in this series, I’m unsure about the exact time and size of the release, but there’s enough evidence to be convinced it was played on some screens in the Summer of 1985.

So this was a season when adventurous filmgoers in certain American cities might’ve been able to see horror movies about killer yogurt and a killer elevator. THE STUFF treated its concept with a straight face, but there were jokes, and some very clear satire. I will trust the various reviews of the time that THE LIFT is a black comedy, but to me it plays serious.

(read the rest of this shit…)