Ghost Keeper (1981)

  • Year: 1981
  • Released: 03 Mar 1982
  • Country: Canada
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  • IMDb:
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  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: English
  • MPA Rating: R
  • Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
  • Runtime: 89 min
  • Writer: Jim Makichuk, Doug MacLeod
  • Director: Jim Makichuk
  • Cast: Riva Spier, Murray Ord, Sheri McFadden
  • Keywords: hotel, canada, winter, haunted house, murder, snow,
19% – Critics
19% – Audience

Ghost Keeper Storyline

A trio of friends on a snowmobiling trip in the Canadian rockies become lost after venturing up a trail during a snowstorm. They stumble upon a seemingly abandoned hotel lodge and decide to spend the night, unaware of the grave danger that they have put themselves in.—anonymous

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Ghost Keeper Movie Reviews

An obscure exercise in unease

“Ghostkeeper” revolves around a group of friends— two women, Jenny and Chrissy, and a man, Marty— who are spending their New Year’s Eve in the snowy Canadian Rockies. After stopping into a secluded store, they decide to head off for some snowmobiling before it gets dark, but as they climb up the icy mountain slopes, Chrissy crashes her snowmobile and it stops running. A snowstorm begins, and the gang decides to spend the night in a seemingly abandoned lodge, but discover a disheveled old woman who resides there with her son, and something… else.

Remarkably eerie and atmospheric, “Ghostkeeper” is yet another undiscovered horror gem that is hardly known of at all, even by the most hardened of horror fans. With some elements unabashedly cribbed from Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” “Ghostkeeper” still manages to weave an unsettling yarn that, while a bit hackneyed at times, is no less engaging. The film opens with a title about the “windigo,” a cannibalistic spirit told through Indian legend to reside in the mountains. This caption ties in with the ghost-like creature/entity that is being kept in the abandoned lodge, and is the crux of the proceedings.

The atmosphere in this film is wonderful. Shot in the beautiful snow-covered mountains of Alberta, this is an excellent setting for the story to unfold, and the bleak but beautiful scenery provides a few chills all on its own. The old lodge is sufficiently spooky, inside and out, and earns its comparisons to Kubrick’s “The Shining,” although it’s markedly darker and dingier. The feeling of seclusion and foreboding is cranked to the maximum, and as the film progresses, things begin to get stranger and stranger for the three main characters. There isn’t a lot of gore in this film, so those expecting a splatter fest will be disappointed— in fact, there is hardly any violence in the film at all, but the aim here is more of an exercise in dread and unease than anything else.

The performers are mostly unknown Canadian actors, and the acting isn’t anything award-worthy, but it’s passable. The best performance in the film is from Georgie Collins, who plays the mysterious old woman. The score here is also a nice addition, by Paul Zaza, who did work on slasher classics such as “Prom Night” and “My Bloody Valentine,” and is very eerie and unsettling. The film ends in an unexpected way that is very bleak but strangely satisfying despite the general weirdness of the downbeat final act.

Overall, “Ghostkeeper” is another one of many unknown horror gems that are hard to come by, but rewarding when discovered. Recommended for fans of subtle and severely atmospheric horror films, although I’m not sure this film is for everybody. There is something remarkably eerie about it, and its uncanny sense of dread is perhaps its greatest achievement. If abandoned lodges, snowstorms, and clandestine wendigos are your thing, seek this shoestring Canadian thriller out. 8/10.

Happy new year!!!

Filmed in Banff, Alberta and using the Canadian tax shelter rules that have produced so many of our favorite films, Ghostkeeper rises above its unstable finances and near-unseen theatrical run to become a fun piece of somewhat forgotten slasher fun.

This one is all about the Wendigo, even if it spells the monster’s name Windigo. It’s a monster that lives off human flesh and is one of Canada’s few unique monsters, but the movie doesn’t spend all that much time discussing it.

Basically – if you wanted another snowmobile slasher after The Chill Factor, here it is.

Jenny, Marty, and Chrissy spend New Year’s Eve in the Rocky Mountains but end up seeking shelter from a blizzard in an abandoned hotel. There’s an older woman who claims to live there with her two sons.

Of course, one of the sons named Danny ends up drowning Chrissy, slitting her throat and putting her in a freezer. That’s also where the Wendigo lives in the body of her other son.

By the end, Jenny has shotgun blasted the old woman and assumed her mantle of the Ghostkeeper, which takes hours to happen and plenty of darkness to wade through. But the end is really effective, so if you have the patience to take it this far, the movie is totally going to reward you.

The music for this comes from Paul Zaza, who also composed music for My Bloody Valentine, Curtains and Prom Night. In fact, most of the music in that Jamie Lee Curtis disco dancing slasher was recycled from this film.

I just want someone to explain to me why the UK VHS of this movie has a mutant chicken rising from an Incan temple under the hot sun. Because…I kind of want to watch that movie, too.

Snowy Plotless Creepfest

The wintery Canadian mountains which provide the desolate setting are only slightly snowier than the plot, which finds withdrawn, teetering-on-the-edge-of-crazy Jenny, her rotten boyfriend and their slutty blonde chic friend stranded at a shuttered snowbound inn. Seemingly abandoned, it isn’t long before they realize they aren’t the only ones there. “Ghostkeeper” is a textbook example of how much a movie can be made or broken by its soundtrack. Many long, inactive treks through this abandoned ski lodge would be unbearable if not for the sinister score – which will ring familiar to most horror-nerds as nearly identical to the one from fellow 1981 Canadian horror film, Prom Night – both done by the same guy. If you need a movie with a cohesive plot, you certainly should look elsewhere. But if you can enjoy a spooky, hazy film which is heavy on dreadful atmosphere and creepy music while remaining non-existent on gore and nudity – you’ve met your match. It certainly is an odd duck, especially for the time period in which it was made. It’s reputation as a hidden gem is well-deserved and it will come as a nice surprise to jaded horror fans who think they’ve seen it all.