The Lift (1988)

When it comes to countries known for their impressive horror output, the Netherlands doesn’t usually spring to mind. Eurohorror is a genre unto itself, with it’s own conventions, expectations, and focus, all of which can be very different from American genre films (and different within each European country of course). The Lift is a small cult classic that after mining the horror genre for many years I noticed pop up here and there in conversations. I tracked down a copy of the film a few years go and enjoyed it. Thanks to Blue Underground though, grey market means no longer need to be employed to see this unique flick. Blue Underground has released a fully restored blu/dvd combo set, but let’s get into the synopsis before we go into the disc details.

The Lift is about a fashionable new building with the finishing touches being put on it, including a state-of-the-art elevator. Everything is looking good for the elevator company and the electronics company that create the controls for the lift until people inside the building start turning up dead! A tragic malfunction is suspected but when elevator repairman Felix shows up and can’t find an error the matter is quickly hushed up. Undeterred, Felix continues to investigate when more bodies start to pile up, victims of the evil elevator.

The Lift is not an American film. If it was, it would be chock full of schlock and gore. The idea of a killer elevator is ripe for that kind of treatment but this isn’t an American flick. It’s Dutch. And while it does have some graphic kills, the film is played completely straight without a smirk in sight. Felix has trouble at home with his wife, his boss is angry at him for investigating, there could be multinational corporate corruption involved, and layers of intrigue to dig into. This isn’t a 90 minute roller coaster ride. The Lift is a film that is certainly horror but allows room for real-life struggles and political commentary. Because of this the pace of the film is rather slow and realistic. Only during the kills and at the end of the film does the movie go full blown 80’s horror with wild colors and big synth music. The rest of the film is spent with Felix as he tries to figure out why people are dying under his watch. It’s important to know that going into the film because if you’re hoping for something campy, you’ll be largely disappointed. That being said the locations are interesting, the score (also done by writer/director Dick Maas) is synthy goodness, the lighting during the attack scenes is great and there are some wonderful shot compositions sprinkled throughout. The Lift is a slow burn horror flick that takes a silly subject and treats it with total seriousness and sincerity.

The Blu looks fantastic. It’s a 2k transfer and I can say that the film has never looked better. The subtitles are clear, the audio is perfect. This is a complete restoration and a wonderful and loving presentation of this obscure oddball flick. The set comes with a booklet with liner notes from Chris Alexander, audio commentary from director Dick Maas, a short film from Maas, trailers, and an interview with the cast.