Down aka The Shaft
Spanish subtitles, Limited Edition
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When the express elevators in New York City's 102-story Millennium Building start to malfunction, elevator mechanics Mark (James Marshall of TWIN PEAKS) and Jeff (Eric Thal of THE PUPPET MASTERS) are sent to find the cause. After a series of gruesome and deadly accidents occur, Mark joins forces with spunky reporter Jennifer (Naomi Watts of THE RING), who's on the hunt for a juicy story. As the death toll rises and the building is sealed off amid claims of terrorism, Mark and Jennifer attempt to unravel the horrifying secret behind the mysterious behavior of the bloodthirsty lift before it takes them and the entire city DOWN!
Michael Ironside (SCANNERS), Edward Herrmann (THE LOST BOYS), Dan Hedaya (COMMANDO), and Ron Perlman (HELLBOY) co-star in this big-budget remake of THE LIFT helmed by original Writer/Director Dick Maas (AMSTERDAMNED). Previously released on home video in a cropped full-frame transfer as THE SHAFT, Blue Underground is now proud to present DOWN in a brand-new widescreen 2K restoration from the original negative, approved by Dick Maas!
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Dick Maas and Stunt Coordinator Willem de Beukelaer
- The Making Of DOWN
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage [Blu-ray Exclusive]
- Theatrical Trailer
- Teaser Trailers
- Poster & Still Gallery
- BONUS Collectable Booklet with new essay by author Michael Gingold
"Maas Delivers Fun Horror Moments, Including a Spectacular Elevator Door Decapitation and a Bird's-Eye P.O.V. of a Character's Leap Off the Observation Deck! " ---Digitally ObsessedSee all Editorial Reviews
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1983 / Blue Underground / 99m / $39.98 (BR+DVD combo) / R
DOWN (aka The Shaft)
2001 / Blue Underground / 111m / $39.98 (BR+DVD combo) / R
With these two releases from Blue Underground we have an intriguing pair of titles: a Dutch horror film (and who knew there were any?) and its almost 20 years later English remake from the same director, Dick Maas. Both involve an elevator in a high rise that inexplicably begins to malfunction; first it stalls between floors and heats up, causing discomfort for the passengers to the extent that several land in the hospital. The mysterious behavior soon starts causing fatalities (including an impressively rendered decapitation). A repairman (here Felix, played by Huub Stapel) who’s trying to suss out the problem is called off the job by his employer. He’s determined to get to the bottom of the problem, however, and he reluctantly allies himself with newspaper reporter Mieke (Willeke van Ammelrooy). She’s been writing some rather sensationalistic pieces on the deaths but she’s the one who figures out just what’s going on (which I won’t reveal here even though the film drops the penny fairly early).
The remake isn’t a strict one, though it follows essentially the same storyline with minor alterations and a good deal of opening up the proceedings. The 14-story highrise is now well over 100 levels in height and the lobby set is appropriately enormous and quite lavish. The obviously enlarged budget allowed Maas to cast semi-names like James Marshall and Naomi Watts in the leads and back them up with the likes of Michael Ironside, Edward Herrmann, Dan Hedaya and Ron Perlman. The expanded storyline now includes a police investigation into the deaths and, with suspicion of terrorism (this was made after the first bombing attempt on then World Trade Center), a full-scale military action. Whether these embellishments – and an additional 12 minutes – improve things is up to the viewer. The remake does offer smoother, more assured filmmaking. It also, however, feels a bit overstuffed, though that reaction may be entirely due to having watched the two versions back to back.
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.
The second thing you will notice about 'The Shaft' is that every other word spoken by anyone is the F word. At first, it was cute. After the 600th time I heard it, I decided to give up swearing for good. The only other thing more annoying than bad acting? Over-use of the F word.
The third thing you will notice about 'The Shaft' is that the elevators are evil! I've heard of people being evil. I've even heard of buildings being evil. But...an elevator? Actually, it may be more than just one elevator, but something freaky is happening in the Millennium Building in New York, and people are dying. Naomi plays a reporter who thinks there's a lot more to these deaths than just a malfunction. So, she teams up with an elevator repairman to get to the the bottom of it. Is it terrorists? Is the building built over an Indial burial ground? (yes, believe it or not, that was mentioned as a possibility.) Or is the elevator just a quick way to travel to hell? A couple of the scenes in the elevators reminded me of the elevator scene in 'Speed', and I wished I was watching that instead. I will admit that a couple of the evil elevator scenes were kinda cool, but the ending was just downright silly (and not well-explained).
The fourth thing you will notice about 'The Shaft' is that it could have had potential - not to be a box office horror hit, but to at least be a decent straight-to-video release. Of course, they would have had to recast the entire cast, rewrite the script and explain themselves a little better in the end. If the movie had been done correctly, it should have made me scared to death to ever set foot in an elevator again (I've never liked elevators at all), but I'll still take my chances if it's 4 or more floors I have to travel up.
Do not waste your time on this. If you want to see Naomi in a better-acted, better-scripted movie, get 'The Ring'. If you want to watch a movie about an evil building, try 'The Shining'. But if you want my advice, I'd suggest taking the stairs.