The Lift (1983)
I talked about Dick Maas’ Dutch film The Lift last year when the theme was movies about unconventional killer objects in movies. The cliff notes is that The Lift is a very silly movie about a killer bank of elevators controlled by a goopy computer super-chip and the building’s manager is involved in some way. There’s some good suspenseful scenes and some interesting kills and the movie manages to mostly thread the needle between taking itself seriously and being too silly for its own good. It kind of goes off the reservation by the end when the computer chip is somehow able to use a broken elevator cable like a tentacle but it mostly works.
The Shaft / AKA Down (2001)
The Shaft, also known as Down, is a remake of The Lift also made by Dick Maas and it’s a highly Americanized version. There are a lot more elevator kills and all the new ones are convoluted, outlandish, and make no sense. We’ve got Naomi Watts, Michael Ironside, Dan Hedaya, Ron Perlman, and Edward Hermann.
It’s a much bigger scope of movie than The Lift but that mostly works against it. The beauty of The Lift was that it was so small that it had a shaggy dog quality where you couldn’t help but love it, The Shaft feels big and unwieldy and at two hours my goodwill toward it was pretty well taxed, especially when it added an extraneous conspiracy plot that really made the back end of the film drag.
Is it a good remake?
If a broad comedy about Hollywood featured a parody of a doofy American remake of a classic European movie then it couldn’t possibly be more of a ridiculous upgrade than The Shaft. There’s government conspiracies, there’s an inline skater that gets sucked into an elevator like it’s a giant vacuum cleaner and then launched out of the skyscraper’s observation deck to fall to his death. The floor falls out of an elevator full of people for no reason and a bunch of people on a horrible green screen fall to their deaths including a small boy with a beanie hat with a propeller on top. The hero takes out the gooey intelligent computer chip with an anti-tank weapon whilst inside of an elevator shaft. The credits roll over Aerosmith’s Love in an Elevator. This is the most gloriously stupid shit I’ve ever seen and the fact that the same guy made this as the original makes it even funnier.
Does it stand on its own?
The movie’s pretty boneheaded and bad but let me share a “fun” fact about this movie. The elevator mishaps are assumed to be a work of terrorism. Allusions are made to the World Trade Center bombing and Osama Bin Laden and the last act is packed with glib mentions of terrorism as a group of police in full combat regalia infiltrate the building and at one point a flaming elevator falls down the shaft and chops a a guy in half. What’s the release date of The Shaft, you may wonder? Why September 6th, 2001. Awkward.
Watch, Toss, or Buy?
I don’t know, watch it I guess.