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The Shaft

31 customer reviews

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(May 20, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

When the express elevator in the 102-story Millennium Building begins to malfunction, the management sends in a mechanic to solve the problem, but not everyone is happy about it - especially the elevator. After several of New York's finest are killed, the government, fearing terrorism, seals off the building. Now it is up to the mechanic and a reporter (Naomi Watts) to face an enemy whose bloodthirst is only met by its enemy that is determined to fight off any intruder looking for the dark secret that lurks in the belly of THE SHAFT.

Naomi Watts had not yet been put through the paces with David Lynch or The Ring when she made this 2001 thriller about an elevator with a malevolent spirit. It's essentially an English-language revamp, by the Dutch director Dick Maas, of his very fun 1983 movie The Lift. Set in pre-9/11 New York, in a fictional 102-floor high-rise, it's yet another lesson in why man should never tamper with combining computer chips and human tissue. Unfortunately, this lesson is pretty dull, cramped by stilted dialogue and a plodding pace. There's one great action sequence with an elevator car racing upward as its floor drops out, and Dan Hedaya, Ron Perlman, and Michael Ironside lend their indelible mugs for some character-actor juice. Watts provides a bit of playfulness, but it would take Mulholland Drive to unlock the more compelling part of her personality. The Shaft finds her still on the ground floor. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: James Marshall, Eric Thal, Edward Herrmann, Ron Perlman, Kathryn Meisle
  • Directors: Dick Maas
  • Writers: Dick Maas
  • Producers: Dick Maas, Laurens Geels, Heinz Thym
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Artisan Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 20, 2003
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008RUYS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,328 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Shaft" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Butts HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 6, 2004
Format: DVD
Remember, folks, this movie was made before the awful disaster on 9/11. Wisely, the movie got held until later. So, if you consider that, the terrorist implication and the jokes about Bin Laden perhaps formed a sort of foreshadowing or warning. At any rate, I found "The Shaft" rather enjoyable. It has several really disturbing scenes: the death of the skateboarder was incredibly paced and filmed; the floor dropping out was mindboggling; and even the decapitated security guard's death was nerve-wracking. Add some really "humorous" asides: the foul mouthed day care teacher was way out of left field. The performances were adequate. Take Naomi Watts off of her post-Shaft pedestal (Mulholland Drive/The Ring) and you get a young actress doing the best with what she had. James Marshall who also worked with Lynch on Twin Peaks is effective, not great. Eric Thal did a nice job as his friend Jeffrey; Michael Ironside, Ron Pearlman and Dan Hedaya were effective in their almost cameo roles. Even Edward Hermann looking more and more like a younger Rudy Vallee captured the right amount of commercialism in his role. Maybe they did use the f word a little too much, but have you noticed that if the f word gets used a lot in a critically acclaimed movie (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, etc.) no one gripes about that.
Take THE SHAFT for what it is--an above average thriller that delivers.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Cantrell on June 4, 2003
Format: DVD
This movie does for elevators what The Legend of Boggy Creek 2 did for Mad Dog attacks. It's all about elevators with human brains that force women into premature labor, teach skaters not to smoke pot, pose as terrorists and kill men, women, children, the blind and their seeing eye dogs. James Marshall stars as an ex-marine elevator repairman that plays air guitar. He's really come a long way since his Twin Peaks days-this is the male equivalent of being spit out of the bottom of the porn industry. Naomi Watts' portrayal of the smut journalist rivals that of James Earl Jones in The Ambulance. I must warn you that she is much, much less naked than she is in Mulholand Dr. It boggles the mind that she made Lynch's Oscar nominated tribute to ambiguity, The Ring and The Shaft all in the same year. The rest of the cast is a duck gallery of B-movie actors: Ron Perlman (the brilliantly played retarded/perverted monk Salvatore in The Name of the Rose as well as Konstantine Konali in Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow), Dan Hedaya (Karla's ex-husband on Cheers, Richard Nixon in Dick and Alicia Silverstone's father in Clueless), Edward Herrmann (the head, middle-age single mother chasing vampire in The Lost Boys), Michael Ironside (from Starship Troopers, and Seaquest fame) and many more that I'm tired of looking up. Martin McDougall and John Cariani star as a pair of porn-obsessed night watchman that are salute to the bumbling law enforcers in Plan 9 from Outer Space. Well...maybe they are. The movie works on many levels, e.g., most of the people who rent or buy this movie end up feeling like they got The Shaft. I really can't figure out if it's good or bad. It's either very, very clever or one of the worst I've ever seen. Nonetheless, I'm buying the DVD.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Stillman on February 16, 2006
Format: DVD
"The Shaft" is definitely one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen. The premise about an elevator with demonic powers is just plain silly. It's difficult to believe that someone actually pitched this idea to a studio, and it was green-lighted. It's as bad as any desperate attempt by Irwin Allen to make a disaster movie back in the 1980s.

The dialogue is so laughable and the acting is so wooden, it's amazing that Naomi Watts's career survived. I have been a big fan of Naomi Watts ever since I saw her in "King Kong" and "21 Grams." I'm glad I saw those films before seeing this one on a late-night cable channel.

While "The Shaft" is a stupid movie, it's not without its redeeming qualities. There are some good if gruesome special effects involving the elevator decapitating a security guard and the elevator racing to the roof of the building with its passengers meeting their doom.

And since everything seems to be played tongue-in-cheek, the filmmakers don't expect us to take any of it seriously, so we can laugh at this movie without claiming that the humor is unintentional.

My complaint is not that the humor is unintentional, only that it is unfunny and flat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jack C VINE VOICE on April 18, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
So the Millennium building in NYC has a killer elevator. Why is it killing people you ask? An elevator repairman and a newspaper reporter(Naomi Watts) are hot on the case. And hot definitely describes Naomi Watts. I got a real kick out of these two. They're very entertaining, and there's some fun elevator kills to boot.

Yes this movie is cheesy. If you're expecting something like The Exorcist or Alien, you might want to check the cover of the DVD box - it's a killer elevator movie for chrissakes. If you're in the mood for a cheesy good time, you'll probably enjoy the heck out of it. I know I did. And yes, they did figure out a way to fit Aerosmith's Love in an Elevator into the perfect closing credits scene.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JLind555 on July 9, 2008
Format: DVD
"The Shaft" is one of those guilty pleasures you feel somewhat abashed at liking. I even feel embarrassed at giving this movie four stars. The plot is off the wall, some of the acting sucks like a Hoover vac, and the whole thing comes off like a bad C movie. But I gotta admit -- it's a helluva lot of fun to watch.

So here we are in New York City in the Millenium Building, 102 stories high, just like the Empire State Building which it may or may not be representing. There's a big bank of elevators servicing the building. Some of them, for some weird reason, seem to have developed a mind of their own and start acting out in all kinds of crazy, nasty, and just plain lethal ways.

One elevator suddenly turns into a sauna, trapping a dozen women in the end stages of pregnancy who have just left their Lamaze class and causing them to go into labor and give birth right there on the floor. Another elevator door opens into an empty shaft, down which plunges a blind man and his dog. A third elevator sucks in a skateboarder like a pneumatic tube, shoot him 86 stories up like a rocket taking off, and propels him out through the nearest window 86 floors down, leaving the poor guy splashed like an overripe melon all over the sidewalk. Yuck. Another elevator full of passengers zooms up the shaft while the floor drops out, dumping everybody to their deaths below before it finally zooms through the roof. A security guard is decapitated and a cop is cut in half. These elevators aren't kidding around.

A repairman, somewhat woodenly played by James Marshall, can't find a thing wrong with them but something's evidently out of wack with all these elevators doing their own thing and making all kinds of mayhem.
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