In horror, whether literature or film, we’ve seen haunted automobiles, haunted washing machines, and of course haunted houses. Very rarely have we seen anything like a haunted elevator shaft. That is unless you’ve watched Dick Maas’ 1983 film, The Lift, of course.
After a brief power outage, a group of had-too-much-to-drink couples gets stuck inside of an elevator. With the elevator’s air conditioning also not working, the group doesn’t last long, passing out from heat exhaustion and almost losing their lives. Mechanic Felix (Huub Stapel, Amsterdamned, Saint) is called in to examine everything and get things back up in running order. Upon inspection, everything seems just fine… until more grisly accidents continue to occur. Now Felix must revisit the elevator and its various control systems to understand what is really going on here. It doesn’t take long for him to learn that something more sinister than faulty wiring is at work.
On paper, possessed elevators seems like a silly concept, and believe me, it is, but director Dick Maas has done a wonderful job of taking that silly idea and presenting it in an enjoyable and suspenseful way. After my viewing of Amsterdamned a couple of weeks back, it was easy to see that Maas is not your typical horror filmmaker; his movies contain more substance than most hack-and-slack flicks, especially those released in the 80’s. The Lift confirms those beliefs by containing a great deal of character development and conflict amidst the myriad of decapitations and other “accidents.”
The Lift is the first film that featured a collaboration between Dick Maas and actor, Huub Stapel, who would go on to be featured in many other Maas projects, for years to come. A classically trained stage actor, Stapel is clearly more than competent to work in a film of this nature. His portrayal of Felix Adelaar is a perfect representation of the hard-working, every man who so many viewers can relate to. While the film does feel rather sluggish at times, it is Stapel’s performance that helps carry it along in those more leisurely moments.
As I mentioned, Dick Maas creates films that have more substance than other 80’s horror fare. That doesn’t mean the man doesn’t know how to show off some terrific kills, however. A haunted elevator film isn’t complete without a full-on decapitation, one similar to what would be seen many years later in the 2002 film adaptation of Resident Evil. While Maas and his crew did not have a large budget for The Lift, that didn’t stop him from trying his damnedest to make everything look as good as possible. The now severed head, rapidly falling down the elevator shaft isn’t the most impressive, but it looks good enough for the time and certainly does much in way of adding to the film’s level of camp, a welcomed feature by any true horror fan, I’m sure.
All in all, The Lift is a fun hour and 38 minutes of 80’s supernatural horror. If you have not seen the film, I highly recommend doing so. If you have seen it before, now is the perfect time to revisit the film, as Blue Underground has worked their magic once again, bringing us a stunning brand new 2K high-definition remaster. I’m confident this is the best the film will ever look and the best Dick Maas’ synth score will ever sound. Like always, Blue Underground has included some awesome bonus features, including a reversible art sleeve, a booklet with an analysis of the film by writer Chris Alexander, and more. It is available now, so purchase a copy for yourself, before it is too late!
The Lift gets a final rating of 4 dancing janitors out of 5 from yours truly.