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The Lift (1983)
It's hard to believe that the horror subgenre about "Machines/Technology Gone Wild" actually has a subgenre itself of "Evil Elevator" films, but it does, small as it may be. I suppose it's one of the better targets for machine horror, since many of us have twinges of irrational fears about elevators--we fear that they'll suddenly plummet to the bottom of the shaft, we fear being stuck for indefinite periods of time between floors in a semblance of imprisonment and many of us are claustrophobic to an extent.
Too bad, then, that more often than not, The Lift doesn't meet the potential of the topic. For my money, I much prefer Nightmare on the 13th Floor or Tower of Terror, which probably seem like odd preferences to many of you, beginning with the fact that they were both made-for-television films and one is a Disney flick. They're also not as concentrated on the elevator aspect, although it is a focal point.
The Lift is centered around a misbehaving elevator in the "Icarus" office building. Felix, an elevator repairman for Deta Liften (this is a Dutch flick), is called in to investigate mechanical problems after four guests are almost "suffocated from heat" or something inside the elevator after a drinking binge at the restaurant located inside the Icarus. He finds no apparent problem. More incidents occur, including deaths. Felix is called back to the building. He runs into a reporter who heard about the deaths and is investigating. They dig and discover that there may be something fishy with the computerized electronics that form the brain of the system.
There are many good moments in The Lift, but just as many are straightforward drama as horror. At least one of the horror scenes--the one with the best potential, actually--is poorly executed effects-wise. Many more moments are camp, such as the tap-dancing janitor or the absolutely ridiculous lecture that Felix and the reporter receive from a dubious professor and which leads the film in more of a sci-fi direction. The lecture ends up being true and leads to the campy ending.
The biggest sin, though, is that long segments of The Lift are very boring. I suppose I was a bit tired when I sat down to watch it, but I had to fight off sleep a number of times. There's even a bowling scene. Another serious problem was the performances on the English dubbing--most of the "actors" read their lines with the enthusiasm of 411 operators. On the other hand, there's gratuitous nudity and lots of goofiness to go along with the convoluted deaths (although there's not much gore) and being anti-monogamy, I didn't mind that almost every character was either having an affair or was involved in an orgy.
It's the only Dutch film I've seen so far, and hopefully it isn't a representative example. This is one to rent only when you're ready to scrape towards the bottom fifth of the barrel. Keep plenty of coffee handy for the lulls between the few truly enjoyable parts. If you can find a subtitled version, or if you can find and understand Dutch, it might improve the film a bit, but I wouldn't bet the farm on that.