Here’s a unique opportunity: the chance to see director Paul Verhoeven’s very first theatrical release. We’re a long, long way from Total Recall and Starship Troopers here, but perhaps not so far from Showgirls, at least as far as subject matter is concerned.
This film has a plot only in the loosest sense of the term. This is really a series of short comic vignettes set in Amsterdam’s red light district, centering around a no-nonsense prostitute named Blonde Greet. Event…ally, complications ensue when Blonde falls in love, but for the most part this is really one lewd joke after another. Think Benny Hill in Dutch.
The audio is very basic: mono Dutch. Of course, with a film this obscure and this low-budget, anyone expecting DTS should have his/her head examined. It’s a clean transfer, with no noticeable distortion, and Anchor Bay should be congratulated for getting hold of a print with the original Dutch soundtrack, and sparing us all the horror of a dubbed sex comedy.
The image has both good and bad aspects. On the downside, the first five minutes or so have some print damage, with a vertical scratch running down the middle of the screen. Things improve considerably once we hit the first night scene. Here cinematographer Jan de Bont (who has gone on to direct Speed and Twister, among others) seems to have had more means at his disposal, and the transfer preserves not only the 1.66:1 ratio but also the quite beautiful blacks, blues and reds of Amsterdam After Dark.
For a film largely dismissed by its own director, this has a lot of extras. The menu itself is surprisingly elaborate, with a fully animated main page and music playing throughout, even on the still secondary pages. The extras include a short still gallery, the theatrical trailer, a print bio (the same one found on Katie Tipel) of Paul Verhoeven covering his life all the way up to Hollow Man, and a director’s commentary.
The commentary is so good, it’s almost worth listening to as you watch the film for the first time. Verhoeven is an extremely articulate, informed, and erudite speaker. He is quite up-front in admitting that the film was really a means to an end: if he directed this sex comedy, he was promised funding for Turkish Delight, which was much closer to his heart. He admits to feeling alienated from the film as he was making it, but he also explains the efforts he undertook to make the result more interesting to work on (and watch) than its unpromising genesis would suggest. Verhoeven’s knowledge of film, history and literature is very impressive.
Kudos to Anchor Bay for this release. While unlikely to have much appeal beyond dedicated film buffs, the DVD becomes, with Verhoeven’s commentary in particular, a treat for that very audience.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer
- Commentary by director Paul Verhoeven
- Paul Verhoeven Bio
- Still Gallery