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The Keep (1983)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Michael Mann

Starring:
Jurgen Pronchow/Captain Klaus
Gabriel Byrne/ Major Kaempffer
Scott Glenn/ Glaeken
Ian McKellen/Dr. Cuza
5 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Set during World War II, a group of Nazis are sent to a Romanian village with orders to occupy a massive crypt-like fortress known as “The Keep”. The Nazi duders soon realize that their new home was built to keep something in, not out and evil imminently comes out to play.
THE LOWDOWN
"The Keep" started off as a creepy film with a novel World War II setting, slick-ass style and a promise of subtle frights to come. I was really into it from frame one, expecting "The Haunting" with Nazis. But alas, somebody must have had an overdose of “helium” on this set, because what followed the intriguing intro was pure, silly horror putty at its mushiest.

The film's initial serious and potentially chilling tone was fervently urinated on by the ridiculous over-direction that eventually kicked in and the imminent appearance of a man in a rubber “monster suit" with tacky red eyes and a deep voice. The never-ending leak didn’t stop there and kept splashing about with Scott Glenn (Glaeken) acting oddball and fighting evil with a prop flashlight, a ludicrous love story out of left field kicking in, Gabriel Byrne (Major Kaempffer) letting out a Drag Queen-like yelp (now that was funny...WOW!) and a lousy finale that would’ve been more comfortable in a Mortal Kombat sequel than a horror flick. What in Mickey Rourke’s name happened here? I didn't want to laugh at this freakin' movie! I wanted to be consumed by it, entranced by it and eventually swallowed by it (inject your own sexual analogy here).

That's not to say that there wasn't anything of value in "The Keep". For one, you just can’t go wrong with slapping The Byrne and Jurgen Pronchov in the same movie. Every scene they shared had me by the sack and then some. There's nothing like seeing two actors on top of their game square off. Their presence definitely elevated the class of the flick to a higher level.

Then there was the Tangerine Dream score tagged with the MTV-like visuals. On one stab, the over-polish felt like an odd choice, especially taking into account the timeframe in which the film took place. But on the other stab, having a WW2 setting communicated through slow motion whoring, strip club-like lighting and a new age type of soundtrack couldn't help but be fascinating on some levels. It hasn't been done very often, that's for damn sure.

In the end, "The Keep" wound up being all style and ridiculous substance. It’s obvious that Mann was taking all of this tomfoolery very seriously and that, at times, made the film very funny. It also did keep my attention from a curiosity standpoint. What a koo-koo film! One thing I want to know is: when is "The Keep" creature figurine coming out? I want it for my B-Day! I can’t wait to pit him against my Street Corner Crack Whore Barbie. Keep this, roll it and smoke it!
GORE
We get a couple of potent bits like a body mangled in half, exploding heads, burnt to a crisp corpses and gun shot wounds.
ACTING
I forgot just how good of an actor Jurgen Pronchov (Captain Klaus) is and this film reminded me. The man is on the ball. Gabriel Byrne (Major Kaempffer) excels as the "villain" and chews his fair share of scenery. His scenes with Pronchov are the shite! Scott Glenn (Glaeken) has to look creepy and he does his job well. Alberta Watson (Eva) underplays it and comes across as very natural. Ian McKellen (Dr. Cuza) in old age makeup; didn't buy it. Ian McKellen without old age makeup; bought it.
T & A
Alberta Watson and Scott Glenn have a slow motion sex scene, but apart from the Glenn-master shirtless...we don’t get much.
DIRECTING
Mann goes bananas over-stylizing the whole affair. I'm talking close ups, slick angles, slow motion, reversed motion, bluish lighting galore and let’s face it; nobody handles a smoke machine like Mr. Mann does; he goes all fucking out! SHITE!
SOUNDTRACK
The Tangerine Dream score didn't always fit with the film's backdrop, but it was still decent. It actually made me want to meditate with the image of a waterfall and Playboy Playmates hopping about engraved in my noggin.
BOTTOM LINE
I came into "The Keep" expecting a mature and eerie exercise in ghostly chills. I got that for 20 minutes and then was served up a hefty plate of corn, cheese with a side order of sausages. As a "good" horror movie, this one travels down the same highway as my last chicken sandwich. As a “goof” horror movie that’s amusing because it misses the mark; this one is a keeper.
BULL'S EYE
The TV cut of this film sported a different ending than its theatrical cut.

The film is based on F. Paul Wilson's novel of the same name.
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1:26PM on 03/12/2010

Mann`s heavy visual style keeps the viewer interested.

"The Keep" is a fascinating failure of a movie. Yet, the movie has some kind of power. Visually, it is impressive but the storytelling is extremely weak.

Jurgen Pronchow (John Carpenter`s In the Mouth of Madness) gives the best performance as a german solder. Scott Glenn (The Slaughter of the Innocents) is weak and boring as the lead in the movie.

But the picture has an strong supporting cast like Alberta Waston (The Lookout), Ian McKellen (Apt Pupil), Gabriel Bryne (End of Days) and
"The Keep" is a fascinating failure of a movie. Yet, the movie has some kind of power. Visually, it is impressive but the storytelling is extremely weak.

Jurgen Pronchow (John Carpenter`s In the Mouth of Madness) gives the best performance as a german solder. Scott Glenn (The Slaughter of the Innocents) is weak and boring as the lead in the movie.

But the picture has an strong supporting cast like Alberta Waston (The Lookout), Ian McKellen (Apt Pupil), Gabriel Bryne (End of Days) and Robert Prosky (John Carpenter`s Christine) helps. Despite McKellen`s voice is dubbed in this movie.

Mann`s visual look keeps it from being very boring and i do like the odd Tangerine Dream (Legend U.S. Version, Near Dark, Risky Business) score.

There was rumours of a possible Director`s Cut. This movie could use some sense. I am sure, Mann was forced to cut some scenes of coherence. This could use a Director`s Cut or even an remake of this very flawed movie.

I had to watch an bootleg copy on DVD two years ago. I wonder when will Paramount will release an DVD offical release or even on Blu-ray.
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