The Keep (1983)


The Keep Storyline

Nazis are sent to guard an old, mysterious fortress in a Romanian pass. One of them mistakenly releases an unknown force trapped within the walls. A mysterious stranger senses this from his home in Greece and travels to the keep to vanquish the force. As soldiers are killed, a Jewish man and his daughter (who are both knowledgeable of the keep) are brought in to find out what is happening.—Brian House

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The Keep Movie Reviews

Beautiful, haunting yet flawed masterpiece

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.

Dramatically flawed but visually stunning fantasy

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.

Horror and supernatural force in a Rumanian citadel during Nazi invasion

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.