June 9, 2000

Abwärts (1984)

(AKA Out of Order)

I watched this so long ago that I'm surprised that I can still remember it. Although made in 1984, it was one of the first films I watched on Satellite TV when I was cruising through the German channels in the early 90s. I have a feeling it was on RTL2.

My poor old mum had to suffer listening to a load of German dialogue without subtitles for over an hour and a half but, you know what, she still enjoyed it and stayed up until nearly 3 in the morning watching it!

There isn't that much dialogue anyway and the acting is such that you can pretty much work out what they are on about even if you don't know what they are saying.

The plot is quite basic. It's Friday evening and the lift repairman leaves the building. He decides to finish his work on Monday. What he doesn't know is that there are still four people left in the building. They use the lift but it locks up about 100 metres from the floor trapping them with no chance of rescue now until after the weekend.

Directed by Carl Schenkel (who went on to do "Knight Moves" and "Murder on the Orient Express"), this little classic also stars Dutch actress Renée Soutendijk (from "Spetters" and "The Fourth Man") and she gets really dirty in it!

I could not believe that she actually has sex in the lift with the others all watching but I suppose they had to do something else to spice it up towards the end. A simple rescue would not have been nearly enough!

I always thought this movie was called "The Lift" but it seems that the alternative title is actually "Out of Order". No wonder I haven't been able to track it down until now!

If only this was a horror film, it would be straight into the Video Vault. It really is that good! It's full of suspense and when watched alongside a Hitchcock classic like "Lifeboat" (or the sci-fi "Lifepod"), although you can see how it is derivative, it is, strangely enough, a little bit superior in some ways.

Tonight, just to be different, I also recommend "Final Jeopardy" starring Richard "Johnboy" Thomas and Mary Crosby. It was a made for TV movie that came out about the same time as this one and again shows what you can do with a very small cast and a tiny set. I was going to recommend "The Tower" as well, starring Paul Reiser, but I think that "Abwarts" would be more than enough for vertigo sufferers on its own!

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