The Keep is a 1983 horror film written & directed by Michael Mann (Heat, Manhunter, Collateral, & Thief). It’s based on 1981 book from F. Paul Wilson. Tangerine Dream (Near Dark, Risky Business, Firestarter, & Three O’Clock High) performed & produced the music for the feature.It was produced by Hawk Koch (Wayne’s World 1/2, The Frisco Kid, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Primal Fear, & Collateral Damage) & Gene Kirkwood (Rocky, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, The Defiant Ones, UHF, & New York, New York). It was a troubled production, shooting started in 1982 & it lasted around 13 weeks. The original director’s cut ran for 210 minutes but it got edited down after negative test screenings. Michael Mann has disowned this film & it’s the reason it took so long to get a DVD release overseas but nothing in the U.S. since the LaserDisc. Author F. Paul Wilson was so disappointed in this film that it motivated him to write a short story called “Cuts” where a writer puts a voodoo curse on a director who has mangled his work.The budget was $6,000,000 & it grossed $3,661,757 during it’s limited theatrical run.
Following the commencement of Operation Barbarossa, a unit of the Wehrmacht under the command of Capt. Klaus Woermann (played by: Jürgen Prochnow from In the Mouth of Madness, Judge Dredd, Beerfest, & Beverly Hills Cop II) occupies an uninhabited citadel in Romania to control the Dinu Mountain Pass. Two soldiers attempt to loot a metallic icon within the keep but accidentally unleash a spectral entity which kills them. The monster is known as Radu Molasar (played by: Michael Carter from An American Werewolf in London, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, The Illusionist, & Attack Force) starts to kill more soldiers in the following days & begins to take corporeal form. A detachment of Einsatzkommandos under the command of the sadistic SD Sturmbannführer Eric Kaempffer (played by: Gabriel Byrne from The Usual Suspects, Trial by Jury, Hereditary, & Miller’s Crossing) arrives to deal with what is thought to be partisan activity. The Germans get help from Jewish historian Prof. Theodore Cuza (played by: Ian McKellen from the X-Men franchise, Apt Pupil, Gods and Monsters, & Last Action Hero) taken from a concentration camp. Molasar saves the professor’s daughter Eva (played by: Alberta Watson from Nikita, La Femme Nikita, 24, & White of the Eye) from sexual assault by two Einsatzkommandos. The professor becomes indebted to the entity. They get guidance from Father Fonescu (played by: Robert Prosky from Christine, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Rudy, & Broadcast News). A mysterious stranger named Glaeken (played by: Scott Glenn from Backdraft, Training Day, Daredevil, & The Silence of the Lambs) arrives. Kaempffer & Woermann clash over the past. The monster takes advantage of the confrontation. Can get along for long enough to battle this killing machine????
The Keep has been a hard film to track down over the years! Director Michael Mann has disowned due to studio interference, his original cut was much longer than the version that got released everywhere. I hope someday that he can put together his true vision for a new theatrical run because it deserves that treatment. I will say that the special & visual fx are very outdated here. Don’t get me wrong, they were top notch back then & they honestly still look pretty cool especially the Radu Molasar character. I love the look of this feature, the cinematography elevates it to whole another level. The script is really good for this but you can tell it’s missing a lot so it feels incomplete at times & leaves some holes. It does add more mystery to the already crazy situation in The Keep but it has potential to be even better with the original cut being fully restored someday. It has a H.P. Lovecraft vibe to it. The music is top notch for this production & it’s one of my favorite things about it. It has an all star cast with so many familiar faces. Jürgen Prochnow & Gabriel Byrne are great villains, they make the monster look like a hero in this. Then again, killing nazis kinda makes you that way. Scott Glenn, Ian McKellen, & Robert Prosky all have quality performances in The Keep. Everything that they do is consistently good. Alberta Watson is excellent eye candy. I am surprised that this didn’t do better at the box office back in the day. It’s a respectable horror film that does everything right & delivers the goods. Via Vision has resurrected this forgotten 80’s horror movie on DVD for the very first time in the world, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s discuss the DVD, the standard definition (2.35:1) transfer looks way better than expected especially when up-scaled on my TV. It’s a major improvement over the releases from the past so far & it’s the best it’s ever looked on home video at this point. The Keep only had a VHS & LaserDisc for the longest time when it came to home video so hopefully a blu ray or 4K will follow in a few years. The great folks at Via Vision Entertainment has unleashed this under-rated film for it’s first official DVD release worldwide. I have great news, it’s all region so it will play in anything. The English 2.0 stereo track is solid but it could be better. It gets low at times & it changes up a little bit when it comes to volume. The Tangerine Dream score still sounds great & it’s highlight when it comes to the technical aspects. The only extra on the disc is the original “Theatrical Trailer”. It also has reversible artwork. It can be imported at most online retailers, CHECK IT OUT!!!!