Comfortable and Furious

Fucked-Up Films #13: Spetters (1980)

Synopsis: A rough and raw portrayal of young Dutch lives

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Cast: Hans van Tongeren, Renée Soutendijk, Toon Agterberg, Maarten Spanjer, Marianne Boyer, Rutger Hauer, Jeroen Krabbé, Peter Tuinman

Verhoeven can’t do too much wrong in my eyes, probably because he’s one of the most politically incorrect filmmakers of all time. Now in his eighties, he’s still upsetting people with saucy tales about rape and lesbo nuns,a fact that suggests he’s never gonna bend the knee for his often rabid critics. Lest you forget, this is the guy that gave us the blockbusters Robocop, Total Recall and Basic Instinct, as well as amusingly bonkers stuff like Flesh and Blood and Showgirls. Mind you, his yen for controversy – sexual, violent, religious or otherwise – began long before he arrived in Tinseltown.

The uncompromising Spetters, a Dutch word that can be loosely translated as good looking boys or girls, caused uproar in his homeland. All these decades later it’s not too hard to see why, given its less than flattering depiction of women, young people, cops, Christianity and the disabled. Oh, and of course, The Gays weren’t happy. It remains the only film I’ve seen in which gang rape is not only casually accepted, but apparently beneficial. Sort of like a reverse bout of gay conversion.

What are these sick bastards doing? Trying to make something of their lives. The action centers around three unenlightened, extroverted mates who love dirt-bike racing. Into their midst comes a hot, freewheeling girl.

How do the lovely ladies fare? Better than the men, although one catches religion so maybe not while another has her dishonest, tennis ball-based attempt to portray an impressive bust comically exposed. The ladies are also quite happy to indulge in racism and homo-bashing or have their breasts publicly fondled. None can apparently afford a bra. Impotence, premature ejaculation and a total lack of consideration from their men folk are the norm.

The lovely Fientjie (Soutendijk) is our female focus and she’s a hard-nosed, opportunistic bitch only interested in cash and escaping her dead end working class life. Can’t say I blame her, given she slaves over a hot stove in a chip van and routinely has to put up with sexually suggestive and abusive customers. She flip-flops between boyfriends, is happy to use her pussy to bribe a cop, will tip hot chip fat down the front of a non-paying customer, and shows precious little sympathy, empathy or respect toward anyone. She’s a survivor, but it’s also clear she’s out for herself and not to be trusted for longer than three and a half minutes.

Is the villain any good? There’s no main villain, apart from our non-PC director. Just about all the characters are fairly unlikeable, though. See below.

How skuzzy are the men? Rien (van Tongeren) is a talented motocross rider. The hapless, accident-prone Hans (Spanjer) is a lot less capable while the good-looking homophobe Eef (Agterberg) is their mechanic. These are the sort of feckless guys that prefer horsing around, pranks and spontaneous dick-measuring competitions to reading books. You get the picture, yeah? At first you think they’re merely pumped-up idiots but there’s also a fair bit of malice to their actions. Elsewhere, we have a granite-faced religious maniac who likes to beat his son for any infraction, a bunch of beer-drinking outlaw bikers who occasionally wreck a pub, and a pack of predatory homos that dish out their own brand of justice.

Would the violence make a vicar faint? Spetters isn’t particularly violent, but no man of God would be happy about the number of cocks (erect or otherwise) on display, especially when they start disappearing into mouths and the like. No doubt he would faint during the gang rape, an act so graphically depicted that we are even treated to the sight of saliva being used as lubricant.

How fucked-up is this film? Well, its action isn’t always credible, but it’s still a crude, cruel two-hour watch that underlines Verhoeven’s directorial talents. He portrays a world of casual sex often within earshot of your mates. There’s also a smidgen of female sexual jealousy, abundant nudity, some Saturday Night Fever-style disco dancing, the consumption of dog food and a Michael Winner-like love of rape. A coarse sense of humor runs throughout, even if I didn’t always buy it. I also enjoyed the punchy music and the convincing dirt bike action.Spetters’ most absorbing aspect, though, is its depiction of homosexuality.

Now as you know, I don’t go for gay-themed stuff, but Verhoeven’s take is something else. Here we get homos dismissed as ‘filthy faggots’ and ‘dirty assfuckers’, a minority that is only there in Rotterdam to be mocked and preyed upon. Verhoeven makes sure to broaden the action and the result is jaw-dropping. Can’t say it’s particularly plausible, but I’m not gonna forget it in a hurry.



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3 responses to “Fucked-Up Films #13: Spetters (1980)”

  1. The Crazy Dutchman Avatar
    The Crazy Dutchman

    Gotta love those Dutchies.


  2. Don Avatar

    It helped get Rutger Hauer (RIP) to ‘Blade Runner’, I would guess,so there is that!

    Looks interesting, thanks for the review!

    1. Goat Avatar

      Again, you are welcome. We love to hear from our fans

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