The Keep
Year:
1983
Country:
UK
Genre:
Drama, Thriller, Action, War, Mystery, Romance, Horror
IMDB rating:
5.7
Director:
Michael Mann
Wolf Kahler as S.S. Adjutant
Royston Tickner as Tomescu
Frederick Warder as Border Guard #1
Jona Jones as Otto
Phillip Joseph as Sergeant Oster
Robert Prosky as Father Mihail Fonescu
Alberta Watson as Eva Cuza
Michael Carter as Molasar
William Morgan Sheppard as Alexandru (as Morgan Sheppard)
Ian McKellen as Dr. Theodore Cuza
Jürgen Prochnow as Captain Klaus Woermann
Scott Glenn as Glaeken Trismegestus
Gabriel Byrne as Major Kaempffer
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.
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Resolution 640x480 px
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Bitrate 1937 Kbps
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File Size 238 Mb
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Reviews
Crying out for a remake
This movie always struck me as a very good story partially done well. In other words, there's a fair amount of atmosphere, but work needed on pacing. There's a lot of great moments but overall, it ends up being a letdown.

The plot seems very convoluted and unresolved in the film. It's a pity it doesn't have the depth of the book (which really is fantastic).

In particular, in the book, much is made of Molasar's "apparent" fear of Crucifixes versus the Star of David. This is done deliberately by the creature (which feeds on fear and emotional hurt) because his human contact is Jewish and he wants to make him question his faith.

The book also goes into a lot of detail on the sadness of eternal life for Glaeken as well as his encounters with Molasar throughout history.

Finally, the book contains a much more effective final sequence ending with a fall and an impaling. There's a number of follow up books (the exact number varies depending upon what you count as "in" or "out" - eg "The Touch" is a fringe book. Most of the follow-up books, except for "Nightworld" aren't exactly ripping yarns.

Instead of endless remakes of movies that DID do well, I'd like to see this one redone properly - perhaps by someone who had read the book first.
2007-08-19
An interesting film, it stays with you
This is one of those odd movies that you don't really think about while you're watching it, but stays with you for years afterword. I remember it had very good camera work, interesting if somewhat ugly characters, and pretty good sets. The direction was all right and the acting was good, but the script didn't really hold my attention. I have since watched this movie twice or three times, and I still cannot tell you how it ended. The last time I watched it, I had forgotten there was a monster.

Still if for no other reason, this is worth your time to see an early Michael Mann movie, years before Heat and Collateral. Also some of the actors went on to become pretty well known. I give it a 6 on a one to ten.
2006-07-04
Rock on, Tangerine Dream!
Nazis guard a citadel that harbors a dangerous force that starts wreaking havoc and death upon them, forcing an uneasy alliance with a Jewish professional who can stop it.

The film was a critical and commercial failure, losing almost three million dollars. Even F. Paul Wilson, who wrote the original novel, says of the movie, "Visually intriguing, but otherwise utterly incomprehensible." I will agree with Wilson about the film being "visually intriguing", particularly some of the earliest shots of the keep and the blue and gray hues used... it is very crisp and stimulating, and any cinematographer should take notes from this one.

Critic Tim Brayton echoes Wilson, saying, "After a brilliant opening act, the plot gets flabbier and flabbier until around the half-way point, when it stops making any sense whatsoever." This may be blamed on the severe editing, or perhaps on Mann's desire to make an epic when the studio would not allow it -- cutting more than half of the film is bound to create plot holes and continuity gaps.

I find it interesting that the last time this film was publicly released was in 1995 on laserdisc, a format that is basically dead. Allegedly, the DVD (or BD) has not been released because they cannot get the rights to the Tangerine Dream songs, and also because Michael Mann has disowned it and apparently prefers his 3.5 hour cut. That Mann has gone on to such success and his film is hard to track down (but available on Netflix) is incredible.
2012-10-25
An excellent movie still waiting for a DVD premiere.
I saw this movie a few years ago and consider it a work of fine cinematography that after release was put into pasture/mothballs for some reason. I would like to know why this movie has yet to be put into DVD format?. Pound for pound this movie ranks with the best of the "Scare me out of pants movies". The actors were top notch, and the directing is a tribute to the genius of Michael Mann. Can somebody in the film industry vouch for us "THE KEEP" fans and get this movie into an acceptable format for the horror genre viewing public. I think it's about time!.

P.S. We will be waiting for this monumental moment at "THE KEEP".
2007-11-05
Utter madness
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.
2010-05-17
"No one stays the night..."
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.
2012-07-01
Where Am I From? From You
Spoilers Ahead:

Truly, a mystical masterpiece that made Michael Mann a famous director. When you watch this, notice his use of lighting and fog to covey such great ambiance to the movie. You can tell a great director by imagining how much less this would have been in the hands of a lesser mind. The story is straightforward: a Nazi detachment of the Wermacht, in the Romanian Alps, comes upon an ancient castle keep. Though ignoring the warnings of the keepers of the fortress, Prochnow notices an odd architectural feature: the stones are backwards: it was constructed to keep something in not out. Ringed around the circumference of the stone walls are nickel crosses, that the greedy troops begin pawing almost immediately. Whatever is in there starts the cataclysm by lighting up one of the crosses so that it appears to be silver. The greedy soldiers pry it open, here is the first great use of the camera. Mann pulls back from the small lit cross hole, down hundreds of feet, we see a Stonehenge type of city. Instantly, some kind of energy flies up into the air and deep fries the Nazi interlopers. From this point on, the troops begin showing up burnt to death. Gabriel Byrne arrives, leading an SS detachment, and does what they did best, terrorizing / murdering the civilians.

The minute the Keep is breached, Scott Glenn, with some really creepy eyes, awakens. He begins his journey to the Keep. We don't know what he is but he is clearly something more than human. The SS call in a professor to read the cryptic message burned on the walls: "I Shall Be Free." Byrne reminds him of the chimney waiting for all Jews that are of no use to him. His daughter cares for him, he is dying of various skin diseases. As the movie progresses, the village and the interior of the Keep, are engulfed in a creepy fog. The professor makes a deal with what he thinks is an enemy of the Nazis. My header is spoken by the monster to Byrne when asked where he comes from. The movie builds to the final showdown and unmasking of the creature. I cannot tell you how creepy the creature is, even in a movie this old. Mann uses smoke, revealing more and more of the monster as the movie progresses, like Alien. The creature rewards McKellen's service by restoring his health. The others, including the Nazis, notice his miraculous recovery. The local priest disowns the professor knowing where the power came from.

Prochnow is the more sympathetic Nazi disgusted by the barbarity of Byrne's SS. There is good dialog between the two of them over the charade of the 'master race.' The cast is uniformly excellent with Prochnow, Byrne, Prosky, Mckellen and Glenn holding the movie up. The real star of this movie is Michael Mann's direction and his excellent use of photography to delineate a force breaking loose. The movie did well, upon release, but it was rejected by many for its mysticism. Do not be fooled by how old a movie this is: the creature is one nasty looking, scary piece of work. When the professor finally figures out that it is just like the Nazis, it is too late. The creature doesn't take kindly to not following its orders. You likely have never seen it, it is not available in HD. If you want to see it, you will have to watch it in low definition. Why, I will never know. Mann's earliest movies were his best work: Manhunter, Thief and this one. Frankly, like so many other directors, his later works could not hold a candle to his earlier movies. A Great Creepy Movie That Keeps Your Interest. Q.E.D.

"The Whole Is More Than The Sum Of Its Parts." Aristotle
2017-01-02
Worst adaptation of a book EVER!
I actually had somewhat fond memories of this show from it's 1983 release in theaters, so when it was shown tonight on a movie channel I was excited to see it. I really enjoyed F. Paul Wilson's inter-related series of horror novels, of which this is the first, and I'd looked for the movie online and for sale used. Now I wonder why.

It's only resemblance to the movie is the titular Keep, character names and setting and one or two plot points. The book is superior to this dreck in every concievable way and the saddest thing is that it made certain they'll never film the rest of this series of books. The acting was roundly bad, the audio was inaudible so I had to use sub-titles and even then it didn't make much sense. The effects weren't too bad considering the year it was made but they're nothing by today's standards.

All in all, not worth the price of a free viewing.
2003-08-06
Leaves a taste like Lovecraft
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.
2006-09-27
Horror/war
I've always liked this film, a weird fusion of war and horror with just a hint..ahem..of overacting. It's well shot in a good location. It has some great B movie lines... "This place was not built to keep something out..it was built to keep something in", "No one..sleeps here!". It has good Germans, bad Nazis and an ancient entity in a cave! What more could you want? Gabriel Byrne, Jurgen Prochnow and Ian McCellan all give good performances and it's still probably the only decent WW2 horror film. Sure it's a B movie but entertaining and a hint of what Michael Mann could do. It was his first film, filmed on a budget in Blaenneau Festinniog, North Wales, Uk.
2005-07-19
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