Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Movie Review: The Keep (1983)

Happy Halloween everyone! In honor of my favorite holiday, here's a little review of a diabolically underrated "Nazis and Demons" 80's horror flick.  Directed by Michael Mann - yup, the same guy who did Heat, and Last of the Mohicans - this adaptation of an F. Paul Wilson novel of the same name revolves around a mysterious keep in the Romanian mountains in 1941. A band of German soldiers is sent to garrison the keep, but when they start being killed off by a mysterious force, they have to turn to a Jewish scholar to help them figure out what's going on. Much demonic horror and gore ensues...

It is unfortunate that this film hasn't, as far as I can tell, had a DVD release, because although it does have its flaws, it is certainly a far better film than a lot of the direct-to-DVD schlock that have been vomited out over the last decade. I suppose Mann might be embarrassed by it's rather poor performance at the box office and general panning by critics at the time, but honestly I don't think it's that bad for an 80's supernatural horror film. Despite this being one of his earliest theatrical works, Mann's eye for direction and strong stylistic sensibilities give the film some very striking visuals, and the score - performed by Tangerine Dream - adds to the feeling of surreal supernatural horror.

Right now, I think the only place you'll be able to find this film is on Netflix, but fortunately the transfer looks very good - it's clear they didn't just dupe this off of an old VHS tape. Performances by Scott Glen, Gabriel Byrne, Jurgen Prochnow, Ian Mckellen, and William Morgan Sheppard, among many others, are quite strong. If you have Netflix Instant available to you, I really suggest you give this film a try.

Here's a poorly captured trailer for the film:

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