Another lazy Sunday down at the farm. Last night was spent smashing my head away to some lovely banging beats over the Borg TV club night at Faktorý, which was rather pleasing and a little bit of a surprise in its quality. But as the Sunday night draws in and we need to keep the darkness at bay, what better than to cast our eyes on a strange little piece of ’80s cinema that had most of us scratching our heads at the time. So for the latest instalment of the Sunday Cult Film Corner, ladies and gentlemen, I give you THE KEEP.
Directed in 1983 by Michael Mann (Yes THAT Michael Mann), and based on the story by F. Paul Wilson, the action is set in the mountains of Romania during WWII. A remote citadel (The Keep of the title) is guarded by a group of German soldiers, led by Jürgen Prochnow. One night, one of the soldiers unwittingly releases an ancient evil entity trapped inside the citadel. As soldiers start to die, a crack German unit led by Gabriel Byrne is forced to enlist the help of a Jewish historian (Ian McKellen) to solve the mystery. But as the historian sides with the entity, a stranger (Scott Glenn) appears out of the blue to stop it being released into the world at all costs.
The Keep is a strange film for Michael Mann, better known for stylish taut thrillers such as Man Hunter, Collateral, Heat, and or course, Miami Vice. Part art-house fantasy horror, part action movie. It tries to meld the two formats together but it suffers from a disorganised script and some bad editing, as Mann seems more interested in visuals than in narrative. Which is a good thing because it certainly looks great. Lots of dreamy scenes and brilliant use of pacing and lighting in the night-time scenes. Some of the acting is really good, especially that of Gabriel Byrne, who is particularly chilling and menacing as the elite unit officer. Scott Glenn as the mysterious stranger is just silly though.
One final word on the Soundtrack by Tangerine Dream which is particularly chilling some real new age spooky shit that work incredibly well with the film and is probably the biggest plus point of the viewing experience itself.
So if you want to see some gothic horror scares… with Nazis, then turn the lights off, put on your New Age records and watch a classic slice of loopy ’80s films action.