The Keep
Drama, Thriller, Action, War, Mystery, Romance, Horror
IMDB rating:
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.
Type DVD-rip
Resolution 640x480 px
File Size 1376 Mb
Codec mpeg4
Bitrate 1937 Kbps
Format avi
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
DVD-rip 640x480 px 1376 Mb mpeg4 1937 Kbps avi Download

It Sure Ain't `Miami Vice'
It sure ain't `Last of the Mohicans,' either. Director Michael Mann, who entertained us with `Thief,' `Miami Vice,' and `Manhunter' during the 80s makes up for it here with this silly, incoherent mess. Part of the reason I wrote this review of `The Keep' was to make sense (and read others making sense) of the patchwork plot, one that makes `Sphere' and `Lifeforce' look positively straightforward by comparison. This movie has something to do with German soldiers, taking refuge in `The Keep' during World War II, inadvertantly releasing a Jewish demon. A `supernatural counterforce' (Scott Glenn) is then sent to `The Keep' to neutralize the demon.

The initial `Scott Glenn' scenes have no sense of place, time or connection with the rest of the movie. In fact, it appears that Michael Mann is shooting two different movies back to back, neither particularly good. It's really hard to tell, since much of the dialogue is unintelligible. I kept adjusting my TV's volume control to no avail. The pacing of the film is dreadful. Shock scenes are too brief to generate suspense, and they are intercut with static, talky scenes that go nowhere.

Special effects range from good to awful. The `Disney Like' demon is laughable, not a good thing when you are building a horror movie around it. Even the Tangerine Dream musical score is a disappointment.

`The Keep' is a misfire all around, one of the worst major studio productions I've ever seen. I give it a 1.
Keep well away.

I read the book when I was quite young (mainly because the cover had a particularly evil looking vampire on it) and I managed to see the film a few years later but it has been well over ten years since then. Only tonight I revisited the film again with some excitement and high expectations. What a huge let down.

Michael Mann is probably one of my favourite directors - I consider 'Heat' and 'Manhunter' to be two of the best thrillers going, and 'The Insider', 'Thief', 'Last of the Mohicans' and 'Ali' are all well made, beautifully shot films too. What on earth went wrong on this one? Mann really has no excuse for the unstructured mess we are presented with seeing he was directing his own screenplay, based on strong source material, with high calibre actors and a decent sized budget. $6 Million is not as low budget as you'd think in 1983, let's not forget one James Cameron managed to make an enduring classic for the same amount a year later with effects that still stand up today. The quality of picture and sound is lamentable - the latter so muddy it is often impossible to hear the dialogue properly, which turns out to be something of a blessing. Only the cinematography raises the bar, and is the sole reason this film is remembered (and even revered amongst the terminally cult) and even that is actually only so-so.

The acting is acceptable considering the appalling script they had to work with. Irish Gabriel Byrne plays a Nazi Major with an English accent, Robert Prosky plays a Romanian priest with an American accent, Alberta Watson plays a Romanian Jewess with a Canadian accent, and poor Ian McKellen plays a Romanian Jewish Doctor with an American accent (almost certainly because Watson couldn't do a Romanian accent or a British accent and McKellen had to convincingly play her father). Only Jurgen Prochnow manages to act a role with his own accent, and it's no accident that only he comes across as having any personality at all. It's quite fun to notice Wolf Kahler with a single line of dialogue as one of the ill-fated SS squadron (more famous for having his face melted at the end of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', and for saying "Excellente" in the long running Ferrero Rocher ad). Alberta Watson and Scott Glenn are both truly awful as the 'meet-one-minute-inexplicably-have-gratuitous-sex-the-next' mis-matched couple. You get the feeling Watson was only cast because she was prepared to strip naked and Glenn because he needed to look moody and implacable. Which he does. Actually, that's all he does.

The whole film is so poorly paced and executed it feels like the action takes place over the hour and a half you're watching the film. In this instance an extra 30 minutes would have improved the film 110%. The first deaths happen within ten minutes of the film starting and everything is rushed as fast as possible to the conclusion from that point - and what a conclusion. It's a dry ice and laser effect extravaganza with no tension, no drama, in fact no conflict at all. The Talisman that green blooded, contact-lensed Glenn slots onto his staff is pretty clearly a flashlight with a cross stuck on it. The villain himself, when not rushing about as a blue special effect dismembering stormtroopers, appears as a comically rubbery red-eyed bodybuilder. The vampire with God-like powers of the source material would have far more interesting.

The Tangerine Dream score is unmemorable and even more intrusive than usual, and that's saying something. Here it is inappropriate, and often extremely annoying. All tension and pace are completely thrown out of the window by the incessant synth wailing away in the foreground. The funniest (and stupidest) point of the score is the final cue which somehow turns into "Walking in the Air" from the animated kid's short "The Snowman". No, honestly - check the soundtrack listings, they actually credit Howard Blake. The only explanation for this would be a potential lawsuit after T.D. pinched the theme. There's no way Michael Mann could have wanted the end of his mystical romantic fantasy Nazi horror effort to finish with a piece of music associated with young boys singing about Christmas intentionally. When I recognised the theme I laughed out loud at the sheer preposterousness of the link.

There is much to mock in this effort and little to praise, and although it does have a uniqueness due to a few decent actors, large scope, and annoying 80s synth score, it really isn't worth your time. Seeing Mann chose to remake his shoddy TV movie 'L.A. Takedown' as 'Heat', perhaps he might be tempted to do this film again properly, until then, Keep well clear of this shameful mistake. A generous 5 out of 10.
a good story, badly executed
After seeing Collateral at the cinema and loving it, I thought I would look up Michael Mann and see what else he had done. I had never heard of him before so was surprised to see that he was the guy behind Miami Vice... don't get me wrong... I'm not a fan, but I have heard of it.

Anyways, I red the description for The Keep and it sounded interesting and it had Ian McKellen starring so I thought, I'll give this one a whirl, as a horror fan anyway, I love the whole supernatural/horror deal.

I couldn't find it to buy anywhere, so like everyone else in the same situation I turned to eBay where I found a number of people selling this film. That being an indication that the film wasn't too good and one that I also ignored, I bid and won a copy and watched it the other day.

I've rarely seen such a fresh take on an idea so held back by poor handling. Barring Ian McKellen and Jurgen Prochnow, the cast left a lot to be desired and having said that, even Ian McKellen wasn't on top form... I mean, what the hell was that accent about. The effects were OK, you can't fault them too much given that its 1983 we're talking about. The sound and image quality weren't brilliant though, the volume of the film didn't even remain consistent, I was constantly putting the volume up to hear whispering characters and then being blown away when they began shouting. The location where this film was shot did allow for the occasional impressive shot and I'll admit, some of the powerful (80s-style) music, although sometimes used inappropriately and for too long, was good and did contribute to the film's atmosphere a lot.

All in all however, I thought this film could have been so much better. So... Michael Mann... I loved Collateral... but dude, what were you thinking when you made this... I think your mind may of been elsewhere.
This is probably the worst movie I have ever seen.
I only watched this because Jurgen Prochnow was in it. This was as opposite to 'Das Boot' (that he was in) as you could possibly get. I couldn't believe it. What a shocker! The whole story is pointless and superficial. The characters are two dimensional at best, just vague outlines and either good or bad and the dialogue is simplistic and childish. Somewhere in the middle of this most unmemorable movie the lead female and the mysterious weird male meet and have sex for absolutely no reason as far as the plot goes. The sex is completely irrelevant to anything at all and the two characters have hardly even spoken to each other. There are a lot of pointless special effects that just look like something stuck on for the sake of it. Wow, Jurgen must have needed money BADLY to do this.
A little dated...
Pretty well made for its day although the effects to look quite dated by today's standards. I can't say I was entirely enamoured with Tangerine Dream's musical score either; it just didn't seem to fit. As for the performances, well I thought both Jürgen Prochnow and Gabriel Byrne were excellent; Prochnow again proving just what a fine actor he is and Byrne playing a very believable and loathsome character very well. What lets it down is the fact that the audience are allowed to actually see the entity that is causing all the deaths. If you know anything about what scares people, it's the things you don't see that scare you; the things your imagination can run wild with. Once the monster, Molasar, is seen all that mystery is lost and it can never have as much impact. Michael Mann did a fair enough job but I felt there were a few too many lingering shots and a little too much exposition in places. Even so, I still quite enjoyed it, although the book is much better.

SteelMonster's verdict: RECOMMENDED (Just)

My score: 6.2/10.

You can find an expanded version of this review on my blog: Thoughts of a SteelMonster.
The bad dreams of your keep are nursery rhymes in comparison.
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
And I love that voice
A powerful movie that lets you feel a deep sense of evil and power that is almost seductive in its intensity. although the budget of the movie probably doesn't do it justice, I still feel that this is a great movie for all you who love movies that revolve around a central theme of demonic horror.

And I love that voice... Very reminiscent of Darth Vada (James Earl Jones)

There is a very similar character to the main protagonist in one of the Babylon 5 episodes (the one where where some guy is affected by some bio-genetic weapon and transforms in the the one of its makers... don't ask me which one my memory is not that good)

If you enjoy powerful horror I would highly recommend this movie.
There is no other film like this.
When I was young I sneaked in the first fifteen minutes of 'The Keep' when it was shown on BBC2's Moviedrome before I had to go to bed. Those scenes stuck in my head for years before it finally appeared on video a year or so ago. The dreamlike quality, the Tangerine Dream score, the reliance on atmosphere and implication rather than expository dialogue hit me right where it matters. When I finally saw the whole film at the age of twenty-four I was disappointed as it is, as other reviewers have pointed out, incoherent and badly dated. But it still has that Michael Mann touch, the same feeling that permeates 'Manhunter' and 'The Insider', both two of my favourite films of all time. 'The Keep' is all about atmospheres and ambience - when the demon becomes visible the film loses its way due to clumsy dialogue and effects. The unseen and the unsaid are what aids the film and its best scenes follow this rule. The film opens in what I can only describe as the closest feeling to a dream that you've ever had. Long shots of mountains, chasms, water, Jurgen Prochnow's eyes, the driving music, and then into the village that surrounds the keep. The film moves to slow motion and you feel like events are taking place within a fairytale. The scene where the soldiers remove the silver cross and the force is unleashed is incredible. There is one of the most fantastic shots in cinema when the camera pulls back into the recesses of the keep and the force makes its way to the intruders above. Scenes like this make up for the remainder of the film which seems to rush to the finale and not explain what is actually happening. I hope that one day a DVD is released and that Mann releases the film as close to his vision as intended. I'd recommend 'The Keep' if you like slowly paced, ambient, and mysterious films where every question is not answered. You may end up feeling frustrated!
who is more evil?
The overall effect of the film seems unconvincing, and if a few scenes were omitted, it could even be a fairy tale like movie for pre-teens. However, what makes this film worthwhile is that the visual aspects of it are so well done, especially its well-placed use of slow motion. There are numerous beautiful and haunting images throughout the film. For fans of Gabriel Byrne, who plays a ruthless Einsatz SS major, this offers a rather chilling performance, though if you're a Scott Glenn fan, his role as the mysterious hero who puts the evil back in its place, is straight out of a Marvel comic book. And the evil force itself seems not to be that evil at all, as it's killing the seemingly much more evil SS, at least at first. I guess the question is how can something be evil if it's killing evil? What could have been more evil than black-shirted swastika bearing committed Nazis? Intriguing and very atmospheric, but doesn't quite get there.
Best demon I've seen
In this film the demon molasar was really great to look at,i mean this guy was seven foot something giving a very intimidating emotion of full power with ruthlessness.But it would be so grand to see this film go to DVD soon,and get the picture cleaned up of all the imperfections.But i don't know if some caught the one scene where Eva and glaeken were inside the inn room.The mirror in the back of glaeken only showed her reflection and not his.So were they (glaeken+molasar)some kind of vampire?.Lifeforce being sucked out of the soldiers might have given the image of vampiric tendencies.I have to say that this film is a classic,music gave it a kind of pre future feel to it yet in 1941 Nazi occupied territories.It would be great to see this film go sequel with new characters and a even meaner molasar,and still seven foot something.That in itself can intimidate anyone.
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