Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: "The Keep" Plays Keep-Away with Audience

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 154 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Keep (1983)
Running time:  93 minutes (1 hour, 33 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Michael Mann
WRITER:  Michael Mann (from the novel by F. Paul Wilson)
PRODUCERS:  Gene Kirkwood and Howard W. Koch Jr.
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Alex Thomson (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Dov Hoenig and Chris Kelly with Tony Palmer
COMPOSER:  Tangerine Dream

HORROR/FANTASY with elements of a thriller

Starring:  Scott Glenn, Alberta Watson, Jurgen Prochnow, Ian McKellan, Gabriel Byrne, and Robert Prosky

The subject of this movie review is The Keep, a 1983 horror-fantasy film from writer-director Michael Man.  The film is based on the 1981 novel, The Keep, by author F. Paul Wilson.  The Keep the movie focuses on a group of Nazis and the Jewish historian they turn to for help after they inadvertently free an ancient demon from its prison.

During World War II, the German army is sent to guard a Romanian mountain pass.  The soldiers take up residence in an old, mysterious and uninhabited fortress, The Keep.  They unwittingly unleash an ancient evil that begins killing them.  Thinking that the deaths are the result of rebellious locals, Nazi commandos arrive to deal with the trouble.

However, the Germans eventually summon an ailing Jewish historian, Dr. Theodore Cuza (Ian McKellan), from a concentration camp.  The professor arrives with his daughter, Eva Cuza (Alberta Watson), to solve the mystery.  Arriving right behind them is a stoic stranger (Scott Glenn) with mysterious powers and who obviously knows something about what’s going on in the Keep.

I imagine that the novel from which this film is adapted is lively and wildly fantastic, but the movie is short and dull.  Apparently, the original version of this movie ran nearly three hours in length.

Director Michael Mann would eventually produce the seminal television series, Miami Vice, and would direct well regarded films like Manhunter, Heat, and The Insider.  With The Keep, he gives us lots of smoke, glaring lights, and an extended laser show.  There is little story and no plot, and the cast, which is very talented, is lost in a maze of nothing.  This movie is, at best, a series of vaguely related scenes taped together into something coherent but really, really boring.  The saddest thing is that this film really has the basic material to make an entertaining horror and fantasy film.  What happened?

2 of 10

Updated: Friday, February 07, 2014

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