Quick Movie Reviews: The Keep (1983)

the keep poster

Beware: Spoilers ahead.

It’s 1941, and a Nazi regiment has been sent to defend a mountain pass—anchored by a creepy and ancient keep—in the Carpathian mountains. The creepy keeper of the keep warns the Nazis not to mess with the thousands of gleaming crosses embedded in the walls, and even tries to convince them that said crosses aren’t silver (nickel, I tell you, nickel!). But, as we know, Nazis absolutely must possess all that gleams, and they can sniff out the rich stuff as easily as if it were bratwurst. Schnell, Olaf! To the crowbars!

Problem: Prying out just one of the silver crosses unleashes a demon of some sort, which promptly begins tearing apart Nazis on a nightly basis. You see, the keep was built, way back when, not to keep something out, but to keep something in. To keep something in the keep, I mean. The evil thing, that is. What?

Enter the Jewish historian (Ian McKellan) and his pretty daughter (Alberta Watson), who are spared the concentration camp on the condition that they figure out what the hell is tearing apart Nazis on a nightly basis.

Enter Einsatzkommando Major Kaempffer (Gabriel Byrne), who, scoffing at the somewhat sympathetic Nazi Captain (Jürgen Prochnow) for buying the supernatural demon theory, begins executing the “partisan” villagers posthaste.

Enter some guy (Scott Glenn) who woke up in Greece with bright lights in his eyes and hauled ass to the keep to stop the demon and have sex with the Jewish historian’s daughter about 20 minutes after meeting her.

Enter the ultimate battle between good and evil, etc.

The Keep is a pretentious mess, directed and adapted by Michael Mann before he decided to insert some substance into his style. Still, it does look dreamy, and the demon in humanoid form is an overlooked makeup effects masterpiece courtesy of Nick Maley, who worked on Star Wars (the Cantina sequence), The Empire Strikes Back, and Krull, among others. The Tangerine Dream soundtrack (listen here) has achieved cult status in its own right, and rightly so.

According to urban legend, a stupidly long director’s cut exists that, if released, would remedy the theatrical release’s incoherence (referred to as “dream logic” by the film’s admirers). Somewhere in the vaults of Paramount, there’s a door marked by a silver (er, nickel) cross. Dare they unleash the beast?

(Poster image via movieposter.com)

(Video via laserdiscphan)

1 Response to “Quick Movie Reviews: <em>The Keep</em> (1983)”



  1. 1 Board Games: The Keep (Mayfair Games, 1983) | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on October 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm

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