The Keep (1983) Poster

(1983)

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10/10
Beautiful, haunting yet flawed masterpiece
NateWatchesCoolMovies18 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Michael Mann's The Keep is a haunting, beautiful, and very underrated film. It's major flaw is the tragic fact that roughly two hours of footage was butchered from it to slice it down to it's one hour and forty minute length. Had the film been allowed to be released in it's entirety initially I think it's critical and audience reception would have been far better, and it would be considered. One of Mann's classics, such as Heat or The Last Of The Mohicans.

Enough about the films drawbacks. I believe it to be Mann's finest film, for a number of reasons. The soundtrack is the chief reason, composed by Tangerine Dream, whose very musical presence in any film is a plus, giving an unparallelled ambiance and haunting atmosphere. Their score is mainly driving , rhythmic beats, with long interludes of chilling synth passages, it personifies the mysterious tone of the story perfectly. The plot itself follows a book by F. Paul Wilson, but again the heavy edits to the film make it very different from the novel.

The story starts off with a group of German soldiers arriving at a sketchy, fog shrouded Romanian keep high in the mountains, to scout for possible vantage locations or something. They almost immediately realize its not a place you want to sleep overnight in, and soon they are being stalked and murdered by an unseen paranormal menace from ancient times. Eventually a Nazi death squad arrives to restore order, which they are highly unsuccessful in doing, after which they call on a Jewish professor of medieval history and his daughter To see what they might know.

Jurgen Prochnow plays the German, captain wonderfully, not just type cast in his usual German psycho cliché role, but actually playing a real human being with conflict and compassion. Gabriel Byrne is adequately nasty as the sadistic Nazi officer, and Ian Mckellan explosive and passionate as the professor. Alberta Watson gives a strikingly beautiful performance as Eva and is a very underrated actress, showing stunning depth, emotion and heartbreak in her role.

I feel that this film has been given an unfair and hurried critique by far too many people, and that it should be praised and remembered more than it has been not for it's unfortunate shortcomings, but for it's amazing soundtrack, acting, visuals and storytelling.
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6/10
Horror and supernatural force in a Rumanian citadel during Nazi invasion
ma-cortes13 September 2009
This exciting movie is set during WW2 , when a detachment of the German army (commanded by Jurgen Prochnow) is sent to guard a mysterious Rumanian keep located on a strategic mountain pass in Carpathian Alps . The Nazis ignore villagers' warnings and of a Ortodox monk (Robert Prosky)about a weird presence inside. But one of the soldiers unwittingly releases an unknown spirit trapped within the walls. As the soldiers are mysteriously killed , the SS (Gabriel Byrne) arrives to deal with that is thought to be partisan activity . What the SS encounters, however, is an evil force trapped within the citadel, a menace that will do anything to flee. With no way of combating the force, the Nazis have no option but to seek the aid of a Jewish man (Ian McKellen) and his daughter (Alberta Watson), who are both knowledge about the keep and who can translate signs vital to combating the rare menace . Meanwhile appears a strange man (Scott Glenn) with supernatural power, an angel exterminator named Glaeken.

This fantastic movie packs action, violence, terror, suspense with creepy and eerie scenarios. The film is based on Paul Wilson novel , also screenwriter along with Michael Mann. Some versions include different endings and additional footage. The star-studded cast is well headed by Jurgen Prochnow, Scott Glenn and Ian McKellen and excellent plethora of secondaries as Gabriel Byrne, Robert Prosky, William Morgan Sheppard and a very secondary role by Bruce Payne and Roselie Crutchley. Impressive production design with breathtaking scenarios by John Box. Colorful cinematography with flog and fume and plenty of lights and dark by Alex Thomson. Eerie musical composed by means of synthesizer is made by Tangerine Dream (Christopher Frank, among others). The motion picture is professionally directed by Michael Mann, a successful director and usual screenwriter from the 80s with several hits (Manhunter,The last Mohican, Heat,Insider, Ali, Miami vice). The story will appeal to terror genre fans and WWII buffs.
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6/10
This is a consistently strange, yet engaging film.
A-Ron-212 August 1999
I wish that Mann had been a more experienced director when he tackled this really bizarre film, but all things considered it is really a damn fine movie. The soundtrack has some problems, but the dialogue and acting are so interesting that the faults of the film are balanced out. I especially enjoyed the conversations between Byrne's SS Major and Prochnow's German Army Captain. In fact, I almost wish that the majority of the film had dealt with this rather than the bizarre supernatural stuff. I really do advise this film to anyone that is interested in strange cinema. If you can get past the unfortunate flaws of the film, I think you will notice that it is actually a kind of fascinating little movie. I have seen it many times (first back in '85) and still find it a good watch (although most of my friends do not). In other words, this movie is not for everyone, but I thought it is quite interesting.
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8/10
Dramatically flawed but visually stunning fantasy
fertilecelluloid23 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is really Michael Mann's "The Keep", not F. Paul Wilson's. It is an interpretation of Wilson's novel, certainly not a slavish adaptation. Mann dispenses with much of Wilson's exposition, and has drastically rewritten scenes in order for them to exist solely as eye and ear candy. He is aided and abetted by Tangerine Dream, who deliver a hypnotic and surreal score.

The movie does not hold together narratively or dramatically, and the love story is forced and awful. Alex Thomson's cinematography, however, is mind-blowing -- worth singling out are the boat sequence, the scene in which the Molasar (the imprisoned evil) visits Dr. Cuza (Ian McKellen), and Scott Glenn's motorcycle ride through the forest. Mann is expert at creating powerful, transcendent visuals, and sometimes he even gets the drama right, too ("Heat", for example), but in "The Keep", he is overwhelmed by the material.

The film flopped badly when released, not surprisingly, but it is well worth seeing for its audacious set pieces and European visual style. A solid rewrite may have ironed out the confusion and strengthened the strained, awkward relationships between the characters.

Recommended with reservations.
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More than the sum of its parts
kkutach14 September 2004
Possibly this isn't Michael Mann's best - or even next to next to best - movie, but I make no apologies for liking it quite a lot. In fact, my chief complaint about this movie is that it has never been released on DVD so that the full texture and sense of this piece could be better experienced and appreciated. It is a travesty with all the tripe that leaps from the undergrossing screen to overblown DVD these days, that no studio has had the stones to release THE KEEP on DVD.

In a weird, connect the dots fashion, I consider this film to be a critical milestone in Mann's directorial evolution. In and of itself, this makes the film entirely watchable, if not "important". The movie should be indispensable to Mann's devotees, and I find it surprising that it is not. As much as Manhunter (one of my all time favorites) and Heat (right up there with them) are ranked by most as very good films, THE KEEP, if for no other reason than its novelty should be accorded more respect than it gets.

Read the other reviews here and you can more or less understand the story line. The salient facts are there. I differ on several points, however.

First, I don't consider THE KEEP to be a 'horror movie' or even sci-fi, although it certainly has elements of both. I have no recollection of how the film was billed when it opened in '83 (in fact, I didn't see it until it appeared on Showtime, significantly later), but if you are looking for a 'horror' or 'sci-fi' flick, THE KEEP will leave you short. It is more of a 'thriller' if you had to pigeon-hole it, but even that doesn't really work, and this is what I think what confuses many who have seen and subsequently slammed this movie. To those who want a nifty tight film with all the proper cinematic and artistic "T"s crossed and "I"s dotted, you won't find it here and you will be eternally frustrated. What you will find is a unique, visionary realization of an essentially often told story of conflict between ultimate good and ultimate evil, spun in an arguably overly symbolic context.

Second, much apparently has been said about the lameness of the sets and special effects and accents and soundtrack and costumes, etc etc. I can't ever know for sure, but I don't think that Mann, with all his individual sense of style (remember, his visions and realizations virtually defined a substantial part of the 80s -- whether you liked them or not) was all that concerned about the impact of the trappings, but more on what they allowed the story to play against. The interplay of color (or lack thereof), background, character and music all create an enjoyable tapestry, best viewed from several feet away. If you get hung up on the minutae of this film, you've lost the message. In my personal opinion, this isn't a movie that should be watched critically - because it will fail in many ways, as others have already observed. Rather, you should suspend not only your disbelief but your pretentiousness and just let the movie sort of flow around you. It's a bit like drift diving in Cozumel - the warm current moves you along to the degree that details can get lost and fuzzy, but you eventually realize that's what makes the experience different and wonderful.

The music certainly isn't appropriate to the period (1941 Nazi-occupied Romania) but then this isn't a period piece. Quite the contrary, the Tangerine Dream soundtrack adds to the gauzy, dreamlike quality which to me is what makes this movie so compelling and different. The acting isn't the best and in places, yes, the audio is pretty bad, but when considered as a whole, I believe the movie succeeds. My VHS copy of THE KEEP is now getting threadworn from overplay and I hope that someone, somewhere, will bring it out on DVD.

A strong 8 out of 10.
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5/10
An interesting, though muddled, adaptation of F. Paul Wilson's top notch novel
barnabyrudge9 January 2003
The Keep is weird. It has extraordinary visuals and some powerful sequences, but a bit too much of the action is tricky to follow because the scripting is muddled and some of the dialogue is delivered in an inexpressive and unclear manner. The film is based on a book by F. Paul Wilson, which is one of my all-time favourite novels.

The action revolves around a forbidding Romanian fortress set in a hillside. It is occupied by German soldiers during WWII, but the soldiers are foolish enough to disturb some of the glowing crosses embedded into the walls. From within the keep, an ancient and powerful evil force is unleashed, and only a mysterious drifter called Glaeken (Scott Glenn) knows what it is and how to destroy it.

The scene in which the evil is released is brilliant. Two soldiers venture into the inner depths of the keep, and one is mutilated by the unseen power. Another terrifc scene involves old cripple Ian McKellen being given a new lease of youth by the evil force. There's also a beautiful and erotic love scene between Glenn and Alberta Watson. Other aspects of the film aren't so good. As mentioned, there's a lack of clarity in the story telling. Also, the final conflict between Glenn and the evil force is hasty and under-developed. The pace of the film suffers from a slow and rather uninspiring opening half-hour. However, genreally speaking, The Keep is worth watching, especially if you're a fan of the book.
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9/10
Leaves a taste like Lovecraft
fractalmama4227 September 2006
I saw this film years ago and have searched for it over and over again. I have been a lover of Lovecraft for a long time and to me this film encapsulates the very best aspects of a Lovecraft story. No, by the way, it isn't one. But The Keep brings out the nature of the minds of men and the horror that anyone can possess inside. I agree with the last review that this film should not be viewed as horror or sci-fi though as a follower of both genres I have to say it holds my taste well. What I remember and am haunted by with this film is the overall aura, the bleak greyness, the compulsion 'it' draws out of those near it, and the question it ultimately asks of the viewer as well as the characters. There are many films out there like this one that have been pushed to the back burner and left obscure and to be honest and maybe a bit rude I think it is because they ask so much of the viewer. Movies such as The Last Wave, The Quiet Earth and such demand that you stop and become engulfed within your own mind. There are plenty of people out there like me that are smart and interested in the fringes of sanity and the crux of good vs evil. The other titles I listed have managed to make it onto DVD and yet this title has not. Maybe with more and more of Lovecrafts work making into the DVD viewing world there will be a place for more films like this one on the shelf again soon. I can only hope.
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7/10
A "keep out" sign might have worked?
lost-in-limbo31 October 2006
A group of German soldiers led by Captain Klaus Woermann are sent to take guard at a Keep near a Romanian pass. One of the soldiers believes that a cross-embedded in the wall is made of silver and digs it out. Only to release an evil presence, known as Molasar. It knocks off a couple of soldiers every night. Sturmbahnfuhrer Kaempffer and his SS patrol arrive in town to stop the problem. They believe it's simply partisan activity, but they soon find out its far from it. So they get the help of a Jewish man, Dr Theodore Cuza (along with his daughter Eva) who knows a bit about this Keep. Meanwhile, a mysterious man, Glaeken Trismegatus is on his way to stop this evil.

Wow! But huh? Yeah, after spending a long time trying to see this hybrid movie. I finally got the chance and it was a very flawed, but reasonable effort by director / writer Michael Mann. I remember reading the quite interesting and extremely unique premise and being totally compelled by the idea of it. I guess not reading F. Paul Wilson's novel is a bittersweet thing, as I came in with very little expectations, but on the on other hand I was left clueless about certain disjointed sub- plots. Anyhow It's Mann's vision we got. The material is terribly mangled, jadedly rushed and comes across as pure pulp. However it's Mann's surreal direction, Alex Thomson's arresting photography and the moody electronic music score by Tangerine Dream that clicks in this atmospheric combination of fantasy, war and horror.

Sure, there was interference by the studio in the final product (with a a lot of scenes hitting the cutting room floor), but Mann seemed more preoccupied with his visuals than with the plot and characters. They became nothing more than forgettable background features. The storyline was all over the ship with forced details (like the creation of evil entity) and a script riddled with confusing holes. There's an odd assortment of performances. Those who stood out were the humane German captain played by Jurgen Prochnow and Gabriel Byrne as the tyrant SS officer. Alberta Watson as Eva felt awkward and Ian McKellen was fine. However Glenn Scott looked as if he was somewhere else in a very laboured role as Glaeken Trismegatus. An intriguing character that had VERY little to do and was hard to understand.

Visually there are plenty of potently dreamy images that spontaneously pop up. There's sharp craftsmanship in depicting certain sequences that just stick in your mind. Like when Byrne's character encounters Molasar. Worked into this is a very effective score that works the emotions thoroughly and creates a very out-of-this-world vibe. What captures this layout beautifully is Thomson's photography. His always in the right spot to get that impressive shot and original angle that just lingers on screen. The special effects is a big (if over-extended) light show that has style and the monster design can look a bit rubbery, but eventually the monster design by Nick Maley does come off. Mann knows how to stage a visually powerful scene, but if your looking for suspense. There are very few build-ups and little scares at all. The pace is slow, but the eerie setting holds up tightly and has a huge impact in the overall feel.

It isn't perfect, but it's a really unusual and hypnotic good vs. evil opus by Mann.
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Best Entity ever committed to celluloid
amesmonde4 July 2012
A few of a detachment of German Army soldiers are mysteriously murdered in a Romanian citadel - 1942. The SS arrives to investigate and put a stop to the killings. However, there is an evil force at work within the Keep which will do anything to escape.

The Keep is a high concept yarn. The initial find set up and shooting of the villagers are stand out moments. The visuals and effects are stylistic, strong lighting, wind machines, optical layers are very much of there day. The special make-up has a startling 'cool' look to it, the 'Molasar' and Trismegestus designs are particularly well executed. Notably are the cast which includes the likes of Gabriel Byrne and Robert Prosky. Jürgen Prochnow is on fine form as Captain Klaus Woermann, Scott Glenn is intense and Ian McKellen is memorable as Dr. Theodore Cuza. The sets are well crafted, the on location shoot adds credence to the WWII setting and costumes add to the believability.

Nevertheless, rather than being intriguing with a slow pace The Keep plods along without building any real tension or suspense. The editing is a little jumbled, it appears to be a mixture of good and bad takes leaving it somewhat disjointed especially in the final reel, it may have benefited from only using those 'good' takes with a shorter running time. Tangerine Dream's score is of its time but doesn't compliment the scenes, it's highly intrusive and takes away much of the atmosphere, subtlety and eeriness.

Even with director Michael Mann at the helm and given the excellent story based on F. Paul Wilson's novel and Mann's adequate screenplay it never gels together. It's not sure whether it wants to be an art house, MTV video piece or gritty supernatural. Should Mann had attempted this recently he may have been able to fuse it together satisfyingly. I suppose retrospect is a fine thing. Curiously, Mann's workprint ran for 3 hours, after the studio saw what he had they wanted it cut to no longer than 90 minutes and assigned it second-level advertising. Mann has since distanced himself from the film.

Through all its disjointedness The Keep is an interesting film with a strong mythical good versus evil theme that plays on old religious fables. Molasar (Michael Carter) is the most menacing evil entity/being ever committed to celluloid and it's a shame that this has fallen into obscurity robbing the character and The Keep of even cult status.
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2/10
sadly butchered in the editing process
anatomy662 November 2007
My understanding is that Michael Mann produced a film which was about 3 hours long and spanned most of the book - keeping largely to the plot as written.

However that was deemed unreleasable- remember it isn't until recently that the powers that be have decided that cinema going audiences can cope with films of more than 90 minutes length.

So... the film was brutally cut down into the deeply bizarre and unintelligible mess which was subsequently released.

The question is: when are we going to get a fully and faithfully restored full length DVD reissue? Surely there would be a market for it? It could even get a cinematic release!
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7/10
Uneven Art House Horror
Theo Robertson3 November 2003
Some people mention movies like LORD OF THE RINGS and BLACK HAWK DOWN as being extremely poor stories saved by their technical truimphs and watching THE KEEP I can understand where they`re coming from . This is a visually striking atmospheric movie with a rather confused and under developed script

All the best aspects of THE KEEP are mainly to do with what`s on screen . Alex Thomson`s cinematography is awesome , check out the scene of the fishing boat sailing into the rising sun , or the full moon shining out from behind the clouds or that fantastic scene where Lutz looks into the cavern as the camera pans back for almost a full minute . Michael Mann brings an unspeakably doomladen atmosphere to the movie and manages a quite remarkable image featuring the initial appearance of Molasar . Considering the budget is only 6 million dollars the special effects are quite good for this scene featuring an image of smoke , light and a haunting soundtrack . Mind you this one of the very few instances where Tangerine Dreams synth soundtrack is successful , elsewhere in the movie it`s very inappropiate . The acting too is a mixed bag . Most of the cast are merely okay while Gabriel Byrne plays just about the most blood chilling and convincing Nazi I`ve ever seen in a movie , but Scott Glen is wooden and Ian McKellen gives an awful performance as Dr Cuza , a Jewish intellectual who seems to have all the speech patterns and mannerisms of a Hollywood producer . Having said that it is interesting to see McKellen play someone who goes through a character arc similar to the one Frodo goes through in THE LORD OF THE RINGS

Michael Mann`s treatment of the screenplay is far less successful than his directing . A gestapo death squad battle against a monster , er so who are we supposed to root for ? During the war even some hardened Waffen SS men despised these murder squads and this is echoed by the character interaction between Captain Woermann and Major Kaempffer . However it turns out Woermann has profoundly anti fascist ideals in a conversation with Dr Cuza which means he stops being a character and becomes a cliche . Was everyone in Germany at this time either a Nazi or an anti Nazi with no in between ? I just wish Mann had blurred the lines a little . It should also be pointed out that Woermann`s first words of dialogue actually do sound like they come from a Nazi stormtrooper which indicates Mann has written inconsistently for the character . Another serious error with the screenplay is that it`s never really explained who Glaeken and Molasar are . Some people have described Molasar as a Golem , but he`s not . A Golem is basically a clay statue from Jewish folklore not as is Molasar an ethereal being of great power . Of course it could be that because Molasar needs Cuza`s help he appears to Cuza as a Golem but once again this seems to confused a lot of people due to the script , and I`m puzzled as to how Glaeken fits into all this . When adapting a screenplay everything should be made clear on screen to everybody , not just to people who have read the source novel

I gave THE KEEP seven out of ten mainly due to the technical achievements ( Remember this only cost $6 million ) but a word of warning only watch this if it`s in a widescreen letterbox format . I saw this on Sky movies the other night and a poor quality scanned version was used which meant the visual impact was totally absent
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8/10
Dark and malicious fairy-tale...with Nazis!
Coventry15 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Michael Mann is one of Hollywood's most acclaimed filmmakers nowadays (with modern classics like "Collateral" and "Heat" on his repertoire) but, just as so many talented directors, he started his career in the horror genre with the uniquely sinister and atmospheric "The Keep". Not being much of a fan of large-budgeted blockbusters, I hence consider this to be one of his most remarkable achievements, alongside the marvelous Hannibal Lector film "Manhunter". "The Keep" is adapted from Paul Wilson's novel with the same title. Personally, I haven't read it (yet), but approximately 90% of the reviews I've encountered so far are stating that the film version is overall weak and lacking in comparison with the book. Well, that must be a pretty damn amazing book then, because I thought the film already was petrifying as hell and easily one of the darkest & most unsettling fantasy-tales I ever beheld! The screenplay isn't without flaws, indeed (I'll come back to that later), but the horrific atmosphere Mann creates is insanely intense and the choreography & set pieces are nearly perfect. Nearly every sequence just oozes with suspense and you'll get the feeling that something ominous & creepy awaits the characters behind every corner. Not that you care too much about them, because, let's be honest, they are Nazis, but still the constantly lurking presence of pure evil truly sends cold shivers down your spine. The story's set-up is reminiscent to that of a morbid fairy-tale, with a sinister keep located somewhere in a remote Carpathian area and hiding an evil breed that is supernaturally guarded by an angel-like warrior. When a squadron of Nazi soldiers brutally claims ownership of the keep, the evil force is awakened and immediately begins to gruesomely kill the perpetrators. The almighty Nazis eventually require the help of a reluctant Jewish professor to discover the source of the evil, while his beautiful young daughter experiences a dream-like romance with the godly guardian of the keep. Simply put, "The Keep" is a masterfully photographed and fascinating fantasy-tale that gives everyone of us a lesson in sheer tension. Especially when the evil force hasn't yet taken on a monstrous shape and dwells around the impressive fortress like fog, the tension is almost unbearable. The first few killings of Nazi soldiers are quite gory, too, since their bodies are cut in half or their heads are literally blown to pieces. Admittedly it loses a bit of its tremendous impact once it takes the form of a flashy red-eyed demon firing off laser beams, but then still it remains a pretty damn scary movie!

During the film and actually for quite a while after finishing it, the plot holes and severe improbabilities didn't occur to me at all. Only afterwards, when analyzing this perplexing film experience, it comes to the surface that Mann's screenplay seems incomplete and raises quite an amount of questions that remain unanswered here in the film version. Logical questions, actually, that you tend to overlook when you're sucked into a hi-tech visual masterpiece like this. Assuming the monster - Molasar - represents the gathering of many malicious forces, how and by whom were they bundled into one location? Who built the keep and what purpose serve the silver crosses other than eerie decoration? What's the significance of the talisman that keeps Molasar inside the walls of the keep whether or not the guardian angel is present? And who's eventually the biggest menace to mankind? Heor the Nazis? I suppose this is what everyone means when they're referring to the novel as being superior. I imagine Paul Wilson gives a lot more background to the keep and to the monster in particular. There were several eminent actors involved in this film, and not just for the principal roles. Even though Scott Glenn receives top billing as Glaeken Trismegestus - the guardian - he has very little to do, actually. Particularly Gabriel Byrne impresses as the relentless & cruel Nazi Commander Kaempffer (complete with the ugliest haircut imaginable), and so does Jürgen Prochnow as the 'good-hearted' and concerned army Captain caring more about the fates of his team members than about the success of Hitler. Ian McKellen is a bit disappointing as the Jewish professor, but maybe that's partly due to the fact his lines were dubbed after finishing the movie. Why the hell did they do that? Overall I'd say "The Keep" is a highly recommend horror film and really one of the only 80's efforts that truly manages to frighten you! Here's to hoping it gets a fancy DVD-release anytime soon.
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6/10
Utter madness
Aylmer17 May 2010
To call this film an oddity or a curiosity piece is a bit of an understatement. Actually if you look at this, there's already a lot of reviews here, so strangely enough this film is not as forgotten as its ashamed director would like it to be.

THE KEEP starts out extremely well with a spellbindingly dreamlike and somewhat pretentious sequence with the Germans rolling into a small Romanian hamlet during WW2. Things remain interesting as long as the film keeps up the bizarreness and borderline out-of-place Tangerine Dream synthesizer music. However, things get silly when it turns out that the Germans have unwittingly raised a demon from a thousand year slumber who goes on a slow killing spree while fallen angel Scott Glenn works his way back there to save the earth. Things rapidly unravel as the promising setup settles into a plot which manages the amazing task of becoming nonsensical and routine simultaneously!

A few things guarantee though that this imperfect film will forever have my attention. For one, it actually does a decent job of melding the horror and war genres and gives a brief glimpse of the completely ignored Romanian complicity in World War 2. It actually interestingly manages to give the German soldiers some characterization as well. Another thing this film has going for it is Michael Mann's completely OCD touch to the whole thing which oddly suits the subject matter.

Not to mention the inspired casting; Jurgen Prochnow shines in his first major English-language role as a conflicted Wehrmacht captain matched by a cold and calculating Gabriel Byrne as his closed-minded S.S. superior. Scott Glenn and Alberta Watson do about as much as they can with their very underwritten protagonal characters and Ian McKellen hams things up considerably as a Jewish professor who tries to maneuver the demon into destroying the Germans for him.

Actually, come to think of it, this film would have done just fine without Glenn or Watson - they seem only to exist to sidetrack the film into romantic drama territory which adds nothing. Much more interesting is McKellen's inner conflict and the exchanges between Prochnow and Byrne. Things seem awfully rushed at the film's last act considering the slow pace through most of the film, but that may be more the work of studio meddling than anything.

Definitely worth picking up if you're into cinematic curiosities. Fits right in with THE SOLDIER and THIEF if you're looking for early 80's murky drama accompanied by Tangerine Dream, Alberta Watson, and Robert Prosky.
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8/10
H.P. Lovecraft Meets Michael Mann
zardoz-1329 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This creepy supernatural saga about good versus evil qualifies as the most unusual movie from director Michael Mann who is best known for movies such as "Heat," "Public Enemies," "The Insider," "Thief," "Collateral," "The Last of the Mohicans," "Manhunter" and the TV shows "Miami Vice" and "Crime Story." Indeed, "The Keep" was not a success for Mann and he has not done anything remotely like it since then.

In 1943, the German Army occupies an ancient keep on the Romanian border with many silver crosses embedded in the walls. A number of German soldiers start dying. Two are brutally killed when they remove a silver cross from the wall and discover a concealed passage way. The one who crawls into the passage way is cut in two. The commanding German Army officer Captain Klaus Woermann (Jurgen Prochnow of "Das Boot") is the humane German officer who does not condone the murderous methods of Gestapo officer Major Kaempffer(Gabriel Byrne of "The Usual Suspects") who thinks he can execute people by firing squad in the village to stop the mysterious deaths of German personnel in the keep. Kaempffer summons an elderly Jewish doctor, Dr. Theodore Cuza (Ian McKellen of "X-Men"), to translate the inscriptions on the walls that he believes were written by partisans. Initially, Cuza is confined to a wheel chair and cannot do anything for himself. Kaempffer uses his power to pull Dr. Cuza and his lovely daughter Eva (Alberta Watson of "Hackers") are brought to the keep.

Meanwhile, Scott Glenn plays an enigmatic stranger on a motorcycle named Glaeken Trismaegatus who comes to the keep to prevent the monster from getting out. The monster stands between 8 and 10 feet tall, looks like a golem, and has blazing cinder-red eyes. He cloaks himself in clouds of smoke and kills two Gestapo soldier when they try to rape Eva. These two die when their faces explode like china dolls. The golem visits Dr. Cuza and restores the use of his legs. The golem explains that he cannot wipe out the Gestapo unless Dr. Cuza takes a talisman from the keep that will effectively free the golem. The Scott Glenn character who turns green when the Gestapo troops shoot him struggles to convince Dr. Cuza of the error of his ways.

Meantime, an angry Kaempffer murders Woermann. The Western German rock group Tangerine Dream provides an atmospheric soundtrack and the photography and special effects are far above average. Mann derived his screenplay from a bestselling novel that New Jersey doctor F. Paul Wilson wrote the novel in 1981. Mann got his money worth out of the fog machine and Industrial Light & Magic pulled off some interesting lighting effects.
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8/10
Very good.
LeeMcBride12 September 2006
Very interesting story line and special effects. The kind of movie you don't mind seeing over again (if you like spooky stuff). Good performances by all actors, some of whom have gone on to bigger and better things like Ian McClellan. Twists in the plot are unexpected and the mix of genre makes it interesting also: Nazis fighting other world type of creature. You also are never quite sure who is good and who is evil. Although the ending is somewhat predictable, the preparation for the battle of good and evil is interesting. This is the kind of movie that you initially do not expect much from, but are pleasantly surprised. Not sure why it is not on DVD.
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4/10
Good concept, awful execution, looks like a bad MTV video
trickyw410 July 2014
Quite a simple, strong concept let down by terrible execution. The music isn't just dated, it doesn't reflect the scenes, is completely mis-paced and sounds like one man with his synthesiser. The audio is a shocker. Someone decided that emulating tinnitus was the way to emphasise the finale. Many lines are completely inaudible and sound like they we're recorded in a wind tunnel. The effects are massively reliant on dry ice, with stagey set piece scenery straight out of bad rep theatre and severely dated special effects. Lots of people have written about the vicious editing but that doesn't excuse melodramatic, unmemorable lines straight out of second grade Hammer horror. A good cast delivers some pretty hammy performances, especially McClellan. And the direction seals the deal, reminding me of Ken Russell's worst excesses. Makes you wonder whether the production team were largely amateurs, or perhaps used to making music videos or ads. Needs to be remade
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6/10
"No one stays the night..."
Koosh_King011 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
A movie that is as divisive as it is confounding at times, 1983's The Keep is a Michael Mann-directed horror film based on the F. Paul Wilson novel of the same name.

In 1941 Romania, German soldiers under the command of the not entirely unreasonable Captain Klaus Woermann are sent to guard the Dinu Pass in the Carpathian Mountains near a small town. Here they find an abandoned but still maintained citadel known locally as "the keep," whose purpose and origin are unknown even to the people who look after it. It is constructed "backwards," Woermann notices, with the largest stones inside the keep instead of outside. Rather than being built to keep something out, it is seemingly designed to keep something in. Furthermore, the walls in every room are lined with crosses made of what the creepy old caretaker claims are nickel.

Woermann and his men take up residence in the keep despite the dire warnings of the caretaker. That night, a couple of enterprising soldiers who insist the crosses are made of silver, not nickel, take it upon themselves to try and chisel one out. They unwittingly unleash something mean and nasty that had been imprisoned within the bowels of the keep, something which disintegrates the first German above the waist and then completely blasts the second apart with an unseen power.

At the same instant, somewhere in Greece, a mysterious man, Glaeken Trismegestus, is awoke from his sleep as if from a nightmare. Glaeken, who makes his living as a fisherman, quits his job that night and immediately undertakes a journey to Romania, carrying something in a long case with him.

Back in Romania, the Waffen-SS under the command of the brutal sadist Major Erich Kaempffer shows up in town. Kaempffer, believing the deaths of the German soldiers to be partisan activity, has some of the townspeople rounded up and shot over the protests of Captain Woermann and the village priest, Father Fonescu. After dissuading Kaempffer from executing anyone else, he shows him something the unseen force wrote on the wall in an ancient language. Fonescu claims only one person can translate it, Dr. Theodore Cuza, who is an expert in early Romanian history. But, being Jewish, Cuza and his daughter Eva are currently in the nearest concentration camp. Kaempffer pulls strings and has the ailing, elderly, wheelchair-bound Cuza and his daughter brought to the keep, where Dr. Cuza translates the writing - "I Will Be Free." In the meantime, Glaeken, after getting past the Romanian border guards through sheer intimidation, arrives in town, and despite having some kind of specific mission in mind he immediately begins making goo-goo eyes at Eva and before you know it, hot 80's boinking is happening between the pair. In the meantime, Cuza is contacted by the thing in the keep, an evil entity named Radu Molasar, who feeds off of people's lives and is gradually growing more powerful - and more physical, turning into a human-like beast. Molasar claims that he will not only cure Cuza's illness but also make him young again, if only Cuza will do something for him in return.

Cuza, who sees Molasar as a possible weapon against the Nazis, readily agrees. But is Molasar telling the truth? And what connection does the secretive Glaeken have to Molasar and the keep itself? The Keep is a fascinating film that is more style than substance. Director Michael Mann uses music and visuals to tell the story, mostly, and the script is weak and often confusing thanks in no small part to the removal of entire scenes for the final cut (an entire sequence establishing Eva and Glaeken's attraction to one another was cut, meaning the two essentially start having sex right after now), but the movie is saved by the haunting synth score done by Tangerine Dream and by some stellar performances by Ian McKellan (as Cuza), Jürgen Prochnow (as Woermann) and Gabriel Byrne (as Kaempffer) make the movie worthwhile.
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7/10
Interesting premise but could've been better
udoricht21 April 2012
This is surprisingly good movie from the 80's. Somehow the script was a little bit shallow. I was surprised by special effects that seemed very good for its time. Don't consider this movie as action genre. It's far from that. I consider it as fantasy/mystery/horror. I didn't read the book but this movie is really worth watching. Some of the questions in the end remained unanswered. Why is the keep cursed? What posses it? What is the creature from the keep - demon, devil or something else? What is the being acted by Scott Glenn that fought against the creature - some archangel or what? Maybe the answers are in the novel. One of the greatest moments in the movie is music that matches the atmosphere. Directing and acting were very good too.
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10/10
What a demon
blackmamba9997128 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
From the novel to the screen, an adaptation of how during WWII a small pass in the Romanian mountains became occupied by German soldiers under an alliance between governments. During their brief stay, a crippled professor of linguistics is called in to decipher an ancient scrawled message by a released tenant of The Keep by the name of Molasar. A creature with unlimited power and unstoppable appetite for human souls. Yet as with all certain demons, there are the caretakers or destroyers to hold its essence inside its prison. Hence the guardian Glaeken Trismegestus. His role was to either push him back into the keep, or destroy him altogether using a powerful lance for which Molasar has no defence against. In between is Eva, the professors daughter who becomes infatuated with Glaeken. But the troubles are not all over as Molasar required the now healed professor to remove a talisman out of the keep so he could roam the earth once more, laying waste to everything. This was a good film from Micheal Mann, who also brought Heat, Miami Vice, Manhunter and various other gritty films for which he is known for. Another good deal to the movie, was the music, Tangerine dream who supplied the track to film. A dark and sinister story of how the very essence of man can make a creature in physical form without limits, and give it consciousness. The end fight could have been better between Glaeken and Molasar, using their feats of energy and power that has been imbued to them since ancient times. The idea of Molasar and Glaeken goes further back than just five hundred years, in fact it goes back close to fifty thousand years. During the times when Atlantis was still around, and when man had no limitations using his mind. Always a wonderful film to watch, and a classic to the strange world of Micheal Mann.
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9/10
" We put extra guards, block the entrance and exists, it gets in anyway "
thinker169123 September 2008
It isn't too often, one sees a movie where the audience sees German soldiers of WWII fighting for their lives and a modem of sympathy is given them. In this story, a immensely powerful 500 year old evil being, which has been imprisoned within a mountain fortress is inadvertently released to threaten the world. A veteran German Officer, Captain Klaus Woermann (Jurgen Prochnow, superb acting) who has experienced his share of an insane War, is stationed in a strategic mountain pass, with a mountain Fortress called " The Keep". No sooner do his soldiers occupy the Keep, when they come under attack of the power which they let loose. Strange words appear to warn all that if they remain they are in peril of their lives. A highly educated professor, Dr. Theodore Cuza, (Ian McKellen) a scholar of ancient languages is call on to help, as is a mysterious stranger, (Scott Glenn) Glaeken Trismegestus who will battle the Evil on behalf of Humanity. The powerful black presence which grows more powerful by the day is not the only evil in the village. An equally menacing being is an S.S. Deathhead soldier, Major Kaempffer, who begins killing villagers indiscriminately. By the way the SS bad guy is played by none other than Gabriel Byrne, who gives a chilling performance as a fervent homicidal Nazi. William Sheppard, plays Alexandru who tries to explain the mysterious power of the keep. Together they create a mystical Classic for anyone who likes to be frightened. ****
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6/10
The bad dreams of your keep are nursery rhymes in comparison.
Spikeopath27 October 2013
It remains one of the most frustrating experiences for a Michael Mann fan to go through. The Keep is by definition a mixed bag, a collage of weirdness, tackiness and visual smarts that are great but in all honesty are in the wrong movie. It even boasts a cast of considerable talent, where Messrs Jürgen Prochnow, Scott Glenn, Ian McKellen and Gabriel Byrne lead off from the front. But the troubled production and numerous edits and cuts of the piece have left it as a scarred but fascinating oddity.

Based on F. Paul Wilson's novel of the same name, plot is set in World War II Romania. When members of the German army hole up at a Carpathian Castle, they get more than they ever could have bargained for when greed unleashes an evil demon upon all who dwell in the vicinity. In short order the German's are requested to seek out the aid of a Jewish historian (McKellen), who is freed from a death camp and hurried along to Carpathia to help the Nazis. Then there is the mysterious Glaeken Trismegestus (Glenn), a man of seriously scary eyes who is making a journey to the castle for the sake of humanity.

Now, there are a lot of reviews out there for The Keep, but since there are quite a few versions out there with different endings, it's difficult to know which one is being reviewed. But the over riding factor leans towards it being a mess of a movie. Wilson himself was greatly angered by the version he watched, which may well have been the original 3 hour plus cut? Calling it an incoherent monstrosity. This latest cut I saw was the "theatrical" version, complete with an extra "fan edit" ending, and I'm indebted to an on line friend and those "fans" who have given me the chance to see two endings that I hadn't seen before! Yet the one constant is Tangerine Dream's LSD inspired musical score!

Mann is early in his career here and trying his best to make something thematically potent and visually arresting, but it ultimately is done down by mixed ambitions and budget restrictions, where no amount of editing and fog machine usage can mask the problems. In fact it's now thought that Mann wasn't even directing come the second half of the movie?! It was an experience that would send him away from the big screen and into other work for the next few years. Thankfully for us Mann fans it proved to be a blessing in disguise, for he would return to make a serious mark on cinema from the director's chair. But with that still comes the disappointment that The Keep is not the thoughtful atmospheric classic that Mann envisaged when he started out to make it. 6/10
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Could've been a good movie...
Gags9725 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
The first few minutes of this film are fantastic. It starts off with a great opening sequence with the German army convoy slowly trudging up a mountain to a haunting score by Tangerine Dream. From there, the film brilliantly sets the mood and atmosphere and begins to neatly introduce the story.

Then you blink, and everything goes to pot...

**Possible spoilers ahead--both film and novel**

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Tangerine Dream (thanks mainly to this movie), but was it really necessary to have one of their scores blaring during the scene with the two privates going treasure hunting? The only thing it did was dampen the suspense.

Also, why didn't they show a few scenes with the soldiers actually getting killed by this thing? In the novel, the creature wasn't flashing lights and fog, but rather a silent killer that stayed to the shadows. An unseen presence creates a feeling of anxiety and uncertainty, and incidentally, greater viewing pleasure.

Then there's Scott Glenn's character. What is he supposed to be in this movie? An alien? A warrior from the First Age like in the novel? How am I supposed to react when they kill him off in the end if I don't even know who or what he is?

I did like the chemistry between the two German officers--Jurgen Prochnow and Gabriel Byrne--and I would've loved to have seen more interactions between them so as long as they trimmed down the vague, pretentious dialogue just a tad.

However, poor Ian McKellan turned in a pretty crummy performance as the professor. I can't say I blame him completely though--He went out of his way to prepare for this role, studying the Romanian dialect, only to have Michael Mann ask him: "Can you do something more Chicago?". You have to do what the director wants, otherwise you're out of a job, right?

There were far too many unanswered questions in this movie, which inevitably spoiled it. Now, I enjoy movies that don't spell things out to you in crayon, but I don't believe this problematic mess was the film makers' original intention. In this situation, it seems they ran out of money, film, and time, and tried to pass off half of what they had completed as something retrospective, praying to God that you would be distracted by the slow-motion shots and fog long enough not to notice the films' numerous (and unnecessary) shortcomings.

I admit I enjoy watching this film, only to get ideas of what I would do differently to improve it. It would be nice to see someone else take another crack at The Keep and make it into the atmospheric and suspenseful tale of Good vs. Evil that it's supposed to be.

It certainly deserves a second chance.
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10/10
DVD Format
tex_justice13 March 2008
I saw this movie many years ago and I really enjoyed it so I have just one question? Why is this most excellent movie not on DVD??? I have searched for it and I can't find it on DVD anywhere. If there is anyway that you can make this movie into DVD format I for one would appreciate it. The plot and story line were very original for that time period and the action and special effects were top notch. Lots of vampire movies had been made before this but none can top this movie. I usually don't like WWII movies but this movie was very enjoyable. Scott Glenn is also an excellent choice for the hero of this movie. He has really developed as an actor over the years and I've seen most if not all of his movies. Bring this movie to DVD and make us all happy.
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An ancient keep filled with 80s cheese. McKellan on speed.
fedor87 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Leonard Maltin refers to TK as "strange cinema". But poor little clueless Leonard never quite recognized/understood the not-so-fine line between strange and outright silly.

A 1941 Jewish girl is about to be sent to a concentration camp, but she looks like she'd escaped straight out of an 80s Foreigner video. Her father is played by a hopelessly animated McKellan. This was way before he was told that movie acting and theater acting weren't the same. He hams it up with the pomp of a heroin addict locked up in a rehab room. Or perhaps he just misunderstood the script and thought it was a comedy. To think he'd one day play Gandalf so well...

If McKellan did not understand the essence of this movie, perhaps he couldn't be blamed. On the screen it looks like a mess, so I can imagine what it must have been like going through this script. "Suddenly a red-eyed mutant-Satan/WWF-wrestler being appears, talking in a deep voice and asking the chair-bound Jewish scholar to join him in his quest to get rid of the Nazis... Meanwhile in Greece, a blue-eyed muscular sex-starved quasi-angel/alien prepares for his motorbike journey to Romania..."

Scott Glenn, aptly named Glaeken Trismegestus (try saying it loud without laughing), is supposed to be the "great guardian", the supernatural being to stop whassisname from taking over the world. One question: if the monster was in a Romanian keep, why wasn't Glenn there too, keeping a closer eye on the keep? But no, Glenn was in Greece, in fact. Probably on vacation. If he hadn't been in Greece the entire affair would never have escalated to the point that it had. Yet when Glenn finally gets to do something, after centuries of doing nothing apart from sunbathing on Greek beaches, he mindlessly jeopardizes his holy mission by having a fling with the Jewish girl. (And she has nothing better to do while living in a Nazi camp, with her dying father their prisoner, than to shag around with strange men she'd just met.) Just as Glenn is being carried away by the Nazi soldiers, the Jewish woman acts like an utter moron, provoking his near-death as he tries to play the gentleman rescuing the maiden. Conclusion: they're both idiots.

Whichever otherworldly "superior" divine being assigned Gl(aek)en the Angel for this mission, He hadn't given him the appropriate instructions. One of them should have been: "Stay in the Romanian village, you putz, and don't go cavorting with semi-luscious 80s bimbos while the he-demon is tag-teaming with her father to rule the world!" The way the Nazis barge into Glenn's residence is hilarious: about half a dozen of them, armed to the teeth, all tensed up, shouting as if they were facing a brigade of marines. Very funny, an overkill of an arrest if I've ever seen one. Pythonesque. Sort of like "no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition" (or as may be in this case, "no-one expects the Fearful Nazi Clowns").

Speaking of the Spanish Inquisition, there is some pointless left-wing moralizing about the supposed "good guys" who lost the Spanish Civil War. Just in case anyone's F grade in history prevents them from being familiar with the actual facts, not Hollywood's twisted Marxist interpretation of events: The Spanish Civil War was not about fascists vs. noble freedom-fighters: it was about the two great 20th century evils, Fascism AND Communism, fighting for supremacy, much like two Sicilian families would. Only the most gullible, deranged imbecile would take sides in such a conflict. ... But then McKellen's character isn't exactly too bright a cookie.

We've got an international cast playing Romanian villagers, Jews, and Nazis, so the accents all over the place. The British McKellen shouts theatrically, throwing hissy fits left and right playing a Romanian Jew; Gabriel Byrne, an Irish actor, plays what HE considers a Nazi SS Officer - with a silly German accent - but comes off as a caricature of a robot; Jurgen Prochnow, an actual German, plays a German who speaks English but tries not to sound too German in spite of playing one; Scott Glenn plays God-knows-whom... It's a bit of a mess.

The campy 80s synthie soundtrack must have been composed on a 10-dollar 80s Casio watch. The composing process had lasted an entire 5 minutes. You'll hear better music in "Pod People".

Prochnow gleams at the thought of the Third Reich having conquered the world - at the outset of the movie - but later on we find out that he hates killing women and children; that, in fact, he hates killing period, and that he is really just a Communist softie at heart who dislikes Hitler and the SS. Dumb, inconsistent, naive; a totally unexplained change-of-heart. Byrne and Prochnow are supposed to be the Nazi equivalents of the good-cop/bad-cop shtick, but they come off more like Laurel and Hardy. Plenty of idealistic speeches, too, mostly from Prochnow and McKellen, riddled with left-wing dogma.

Byrne, an SS officer, kills Prochnow, a Nazi Captain: just like that. This must be wishful thinking on the director's part, this idea that the Germans were so quick to shoot each other during WWII. If only...

TK starts off promisingly enough, evoking vague memories of a "Twilight Zone" episode called "The Howling", but quickly degenerates into a melting pot of different genres. The movie tries to be everything to everybody, and we know how such unachievable endeavors usually end. If the cast sounds impressive enough to warrant a viewing based solely on that merit, think again: all the big names here embarrass themselves, if not to the bone than at least close to the bone. Except McKellan: he goes all-out, looking as foolish as anyone I've seen in a 50s B-movie. Never hire a theater actor for a movie, unless you give him sedatives first to relax his facial muscles, calm him down a bit...
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7/10
One of a kind
RolandCPhillips2 December 2009
Romania, the Carpathian Alps, 1942. In this European backwater, a squad of German troops, led by Captain Woermann, occupy an isolated hamlet, with orders to guard the mountain pass. They enshrine themselves in the vast, lowering, Gothic Keep which overshadows the whole valley. Some of the troops make no attempt to disguise their boredom, and despite the warnings from the odd, reticent 'caretaker', it isn't long before two of the restless soldiers prise open part of the keep's heavily fortified interior, seeking their fortune. What they find is something else entirely other… One-by-one a malevolent force murders the men, and the beleaguered Woermann asks for re-location – but instead gets a squad of bloodthirsty SS troops, hell-bent on ferreting out the supposed 'partisan' threat. The local priest forces them to pursue a more investigative, by saying that a scholar, Dr. Cuza, might be able to shed some light on the keep's origins… Cuza, who is summoned with his beautiful daughter in tow, is Jewish. Meanwhile, a mysterious mariner, awakened from afar by a change in the earth, crosses land and sea to get to the keep.

And thus the stage is set for WW2 and man's various grievances and foibles to be played out in mythic miniature. The Keep was Michael Mann's second theatrical feature after Thief, his third if you count (the terrific) Jericho Mile. It pretty much flopped on its original release, and interest in the film is pretty small. There's been the odd screening on TV, a small VHS release in the UK in the early 2000s (when I first saw it), a big fan website being started up, run by a Mr. Stephane Pieter, the odd rep screening, and also a comic book drawn by Matthew Smith. However, the film's hard-to-find nature and its overwhelming oddness in the Mann canon has worked against it. Paramount pictures don't seem to have a great deal of enthusiasm for their film, so it isn't out on DVD yet. Furthermore, the writer of the novel, F. Paul Wilson, has never made any attempt to hide his disgust for the film.

The films is obviously the product of a stressful production in which there were to many influences jostling for dominance. This isn't to say that it isn't eerie, frightening, compelling or thought-provoking, because it's all those things. However, it's never any of those things for long enough. It's often a bit pretentious, boring and never as blood-curdling as Wilson's original book, which was a straightforward, no-frills shocker. What's odd about Mann's film is that while it strains for a sophistication above it's generic roots, it misses out on the un-forced passages of contemplation in the book, where Wilson ruminated on his different character's inner desires. This no-nonsense approach on Wilson's part had a crucial grounding effect. Without it, the film often comes across as a curious fairy-tale (in a bad way), and at other times plain daft. It's hinted at that the soldiers might be there to harness the monster for military use (why else would they be there?), there are nods Vampire mythology (Scott Glenn's magical weapon resembles a vampire hunter's kit and the monster literally feeds on the men) and Romania's relationship with German at the time, but otherwise the film is divorced from any kid of reality or genre. This means that Mann's big idea, to explain the emotional attraction of fascism and then confront the Nazis with the ultimate embodiment of fascism, which proves too much even for them, has no gravity at all: it's just rootless drama with no consistent stylistic grounding. The film's set design and cinematography do help him somewhat, though, overshadowing all the characters like much of Nazi architecture and enforcing the idea that human and supernatural evil share a common ambition to control everything.

Ultimately, the film fails to confront the same challenge all films in the war-horror sub-genre: how can you convince the audience that the other-worldly horror is greater than the evil of man. To his credit, Mann addresses in it in an original way, and tries to say the two are differently similar: the age old evil of 'Molasar' (never named in the film, but listed in the credits and faithful to the book), designed to look like some demonic Teutonic Knight, was born of hatred and a lust for power, much like the Nazis. When Major Kaempffer is finally confronted by the monster, he asks where he's come from, vainly trying to ward him off with a cross. Molasar replies with a weary condescension: "where am I from. I am… From you." This exchange, one of the film's more frightening and atmospheric moments, takes place in The Keeps main entrance, knee deep in the blasted corpses of troops Molasar has just massacred, bringing to mind charred, piled corpses of Holocaust victims.

The Keep is considerably more thoughtful and ambitious than the likes of Outpost, The Bunker and Deathwatch (films it obviously inspired), but in the end it's broken-backed film, because Mann fails to marry of the war and horror genres with the same success he had in matching crime and horror in Manhunter. At times, the film is simply too frustrating, or tedious, to be compelling. The Korean R-Point was a much more creepy war-horror movie, making the grim observation that the horror unleashed on its small island setting is cyclical, like the cycle of war, an idea Mann never touches upon.

However, The keep remains more than just an interesting 'curio' as it's often termed, thanks largely to the scale of the production and some truly draw-dropping visual effects: the Nazi troops passage through the mountain pass in the opening credits, with Tangerine Dream's distinctive score rattling in the background, is a triumph, and the troop's violation of the vast crypt, the 'camera' pulling away for an age, is magnificent. It's up to you if you want to invest the time, energy and money is discovering this little-known, little-loved but memorable film.
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