The Keep (1983)

R   |    |  Horror


The Keep (1983) Poster

Nazis are forced to turn to a Jewish historian for help in battling the ancient demon they have inadvertently freed from its prison.

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5.8/10
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  • Ian McKellen in The Keep (1983)
  • Scott Glenn and Alberta Watson in The Keep (1983)
  • Scott Glenn in The Keep (1983)
  • Alberta Watson in The Keep (1983)
  • Ian McKellen in The Keep (1983)
  • Alberta Watson in The Keep (1983)

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3 November 2003 | Theo Robertson
7
| Uneven Art House Horror
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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