Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Pick Nick (1977)

... aka: Picnic
... aka: Picknick

Directed by:
Dick Maas

Going to go ahead and continue on with a few more titles from the obscure 1996 VHS release "The Nether Horror Collection", which contains ten horror shorts from Dutch directors (see below for full list). Pick Nick is both the earliest short in the compilation (all of the rest are from the 80s and 90s) and, at 5 minutes, the shortest.

An older man (Cor van Rijn) decides to take his blind wife (Henny Alma) to a surprise location to have a picnic and celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. You can tell right from the get-go that she's not a terribly pleasant woman to be around (perhaps for good reason as the ending certainly attests!) and is already complaining about what they're doing before she even knows what they're doing. The man pulls the car off the main road and parks by some trees; letting her know what a beautiful location he's picked in the forest especially for her. How romantic. There's a bench nearby. He suggests she step out of the car and go have a seat. She, however, is apprehensive and instead makes a dig at him being a failure at his job because he's an alcoholic when he takes a swig of liquor and claims it's lemonade. Her sense of smell is still intact, after all. And if he's going to lie about something so trivial then he'd probably lie about more important things, right?

The two continue the casual bickering. The man seems nervous and starts sweating. And when she asks him to get a scarf out of the trunk for her because she's cold, he hesitates, opens the door, just barely steps out, doesn't actually go to the trunk and then quickly comes back inside. All is eventually revealed with a funny (well, I should say morbidly funny) ending that I won't give away except to say the film uses a lot of tight close-ups and seldom leaves the inside of the car for a reason. While this is kind of a one joke thing, it's a pretty amusing joke, so that's OK.

Maas also made Historia morbi (1975), a 22-minute short about father-and-son serial killers that I had no success in finding (sounds interesting though!) and a number of other shorts prior to making his feature debut with the black comedy Rigor Mortis in 1981. Two years later he made the internationally success killer elevator film The Lift (1983), which was a huge box office hit in Europe and remains one of the most famous Dutch genre films to this day. It became so well-known that the director was even able to get backers to bankroll the higher-budgeted remake Down aka The Shaft (2001) nearly two decades later. It was a flop despite a delayed U.S. home video release hoping to capitalize on Naomi Watts, who starred in it immediately before she became popular. Maas also made the serial killer film Amsterdamned (1988), the killer St. Nick film Saint (2001) and the killer lion film Prey (2006).


Burp! (1986)

Directed by:
Will Wissink

In a dark, seedy area of a big city by some loading docks, a hooker (Tamar Baruch) gets thrown out of a john's car, misses her bus and is forced to wait at the bus stop. Meanwhile, a well-dressed yuppie (Edward Montie) in a nice car gets distracted fiddling with his radio and wrecks by a nearby "telefoon" booth. Unharmed but with his car now out of commission, he attempts to call for help and finds a woman's purse inside; helping himself to the change. Meanwhile, the hooker gets hassled by a trio of punks led by a one-eyed guy with a Mohawk and Coffin Joe fingernails. She punches one, kicks another in the shins multiple times and then uses an aerosol can and lighter to torch the leader while the female punk cheers and takes photos. The stranded motorist kind of stands back and watches the whole thing play out, then jumps back on the phone. It sends out an electric charge, weird noises and scrambled voices start coming out of the receiver, the phone splits apart, sprouts teeth and then shoots out a long tongue that wraps around the guy's neck and pulls him inside and eats him. It then burps. The end.

While this 12-minute Dutch short is well-shot and isn't horribly made or anything, it's not scary, not funny and I never could quite figure out what the whole point was... granted there was a point aside from someone thinking the idea of a killer telephone was enough all by itself. Really just kind of forgettable on the whole.

This was released on VHS in 1996 as part of a short film compilation titled "The Nether Horror Collection" from Haxan Films / Cult Classics out of France. The set also comes with a number of other genre shorts, all from Dutch directors, including Picknick (1977) from Dick Maas (who'd go on to make the surprise hit The Lift and serial killer film Amsterdamned), De Vlieg / "The Fly" (1985) from Hans Heijnen, The Great Rock and Roll Massacre 1 + 2 (1988) from Jan Doense and Phil Van Tongeren, Tjebbo Penning's The Bitch Is Back (1995), about a man being terrorized by a one-liner spouting blow-up sex doll, and five others.

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