• Lift, The

    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: October 31st, 2017.
    Director: Dick Maas
    Cast: Huub Stapel, Willeke van Ammelrooy, Josine van Dalsum
    Year: 1983
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    The Movie:

    You’ve got to give Dutch filmmaker Dick Maas credit for coming up with something different in 1983’s The Lift – a killer elevator!

    The Crown building is a beautiful modern office high-rise building that would seem to be perfect, save for one issue – the elevator. After the building is struck by lightning one night, things start acting up. If the elevator isn’t overheating it’s stopping on the wrong floor or opening and closing seemingly at will. While this might seem like a simple mechanical quirk, the fact of the matter is that people are getting hurt and then eventually dying because of this – a bunch of drunks almost die when the thing overheats, and later when the elevator opens where it shouldn’t a blind man tumbles to his death.

    Enter Felix Adelaar (Huub Stapel), an elevator repairman replacing the last guy to work in the building – a man who, coincidently, seems to have gone insane. He’s called in to try and fix the problems that seem to be mechanical in nature only to find out that the truth of the matter is that something supernatural is going on here. Something sinister, something evil is now in control of the elevator! He tries to get the local police to investigate, but of course they don’t believe him. The only one who will pay him any mind is a female journalist named Mieke de Beer (Willeke van Ammelrooy) who wants to know the truth for her own reasons.

    Darkly comedic but equally horrific, The Lift is a solid feature directorial debut from Maas. For anyone with a fear of elevators (hey, it’s pretty common), this picture offers up some genuinely tense moments – and if you’re claustrophobic on top of that, these scenes will very likely get under your skin. At the same time, this is still a movie about a killer elevator so you’re only asked to take it so seriously. Maas and company at times have clearly placed tongue firmly in cheek.

    The film’s strongest points are its visuals. The murder set pieces are shot with a nice amount of gory style and the use of color in the film is often times quite impressive. We get some interesting visual contrast in how The Crown Building is portrayed versus pretty much every other building in the film – The Crown is slick, pretty, technologically advanced and seemingly superior in every way to the other bland, bleak looking decades old buildings that also appear in the film. Huub Stapel makes for an enjoyable enough lead and Willeke van Ammelrooy plays her nosey reporter cliché quite well.

    There are a few moments where some unnecessary drama involving Felix’s life outside the main story slows the movie down, but aside from this, The Lift is really solid. It’s quirky, entertaining and quite well made. Interestingly enough, Maas would remake the film for American audiences as The Shaft in 2001.


    The Lift arrives on Blu-ray from Blue Underground on a 50GB disc framed at 1.66.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Taken from a new 2k master approved by Dick Maas himself, the image quality is excellent. There are no noticeable compression problems here. The image is clean, almost pristine, but it is free of obvious noise reduction and presents fine grain without problems. The black levels are good, skin tones look fine and color reproduction is nice. Fine detail is typically very strong and frequently very impressive, as is depth and texture.

    Audio options are provided in Dutch DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Dutch and in English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with removable subtitles provided in English SDH and French. If authenticity if your bag, then the Dutch 2.0 mix is the way to go. It offers clean, clear dialogue, nicely balanced levels and a generally very strong listening experience. If you're into remixes, then the 5.1 track will scratch that itch by offering up a wider sound space and spreading out the effects work and the score rather well. Those opposed to foreign language tracks can opt for the English track, which also sounds fine.

    Supplements are plentiful on this release, starting with an English language commentary track featuring writer/director Dick Maas and editor Hans van Dongen. This is an engaging track with a lot of great information on it covering not only where the story ideas and inspiration for the film came from but also what it was like shooting so much of the picture on location, the trials and tribulations of working with producer Matthijs van Heijningen, the difficulties of some of its more elevator-intensive sequences, some of the picture’s grislier set pieces, working with the cast and crew on the production, response to the film when it debuted, it’s scattered distribution history and quite a bit more.

    Up next is Going Up, a nine minute long interview with Star Huub Stapel who speaks about landing the part in the film, working with Maas on the picture, attending the film’s premiere at Cannes, the difficulties of some of the effects featured in the picture and more.

    Rounding out the extras are a four minute short film Maas made in 2003 called Long Distance, a Dutch trailer, a U.S. trailer, a poster and still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release a DVD version of the movie is also included and accompanying the two discs inside the case is an insert booklet with a new essay on the film penned by writer and filmmaker Chris Alexander. Some nice reversible cover art has also been included.

    The Final Word:

    Blue Underground’s Blu-ray release of Dick Maas’ film The Lift is a strong one, presenting the picture in excellent shape, with solid audio and a very strong array of extra features.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      Image is luxurious, indeed