The Lift 1983 movie artwork

The Lift – Taking A Ride On The Dutch Horror Classic 40 Years Later

When most think of European Horror cinema, odds are they turn to either Italy, England, Germany, or even France, but seldom ever The Netherlands. That is mind during the 1980s a couple of noteworthy Horror films emerged from this corner of the earth, and perhaps the most prevalent is The Lift.

A film written and directed by Dick Maas, The Lift (De Lift) made its debut in The Netherlands on May 11th of 1983. From here it premiered in West Germany in November of that same year, as well as several other countries in 1984, however, it would not arrive in the United States until 2 years later in 1985. A long road across the globe for The Lift, in 2023 we reflect on it a little more in-depth on this film as it turns 40 years old.

The Life 1983 movie photo
The Lift (1983) movie still

Looking back, The Lift is but a footnote in Horror history, although, it actually deserves much more attention than such. For one, it was one of the first Dutch Horror genre films to make it out to a broader audience and is widely considered the biggest to ever come out of The Netherlands. Second, it had some interesting ideas that mix Science Fiction and Horror elements. In fact, some would say the idea of technology revolting against human beings is fitting for the modern age where we are on the edge of our own demise with artificial intelligence swiftly taking over. A topic presently on the mind’s of many, it is worth mentioning that The Lift amply shows us where all of this can go wrong.

Interestingly enough, these concepts do not live and die with the release of The Lift in 1983; because it was actually replicated decades later in future films. This was initially done by Maas himself in his 2001 movie Down; a remake of The Lift starring Naomi Watts. The second attempt to explore The Lifts’ ideas some might argue came in 2010 with M. Night Shyamalan’s written/produced Devil. Nonetheless, whatever negative feedback The Lift may have received from Dutch or international journalists at the time of release, or even in the present day, are really irrelevant. Why? because in the heart of Horror lovers, it really is quite entertaining.

A quick recap, The Lift’s plot revolves around an elevator within a high rise building in Amsterdam that mysteriously begins to function intelligently on its own. From here many who enter it, or go near it, are snuffed out. While this may seem silly to some, the actual atmosphere and pace of The Lift is quite effective. At times the film is off-beat, the music composed by Maas is consistently creepy, and the tension is often plausible. That in mind, while The Lift does not necessarily offer a ton of gore, it does not need to, because it makes up for it in mood.

The Lift 1983 movie photo
The Lift (1983) movie still

Providing even more thoughtful conversation, The Lift would also not be Dick Maas’ last exploration into Horror; he would go onto write and direct the highly impressive 1988 film Amsterdamned. In fact, his two films are still considered some of the best Dutch Horror films ever. 

For many reasons, it was fortunate The Lift did find its way to the North American market, because some may have never seen it otherwise. Initially available for home viewing consumption on VHS through Media Home Entertainment (A Charlie Band company), in 2017 Blue Underground put out a Blu-Ray/DVD Collector’s Edition which includes a 2K restoration from the original camera negatives, and various other extras. Highly recommended to find a copy of the Collector’s Edition, for those who want to just check it out, The Lift is available for streaming on various platforms. 

So, if you are a true lover of Horror cinema and appreciate films that are different, The Lift is worth taking a ride with even 40 years later.

The Lift 1983 movie poster
The Lift / Warner Bros (1983)

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