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Nazis are sent to guard an old, mysterious fortress in a Romanian pass. One of them mistakenly releases an unknown force trapped within the walls. A mysterious stranger senses this from his home in Greece and travels to the keep to vanquish the force. As soldiers are killed, a Jewish man and his daughter (who are both knowledgeable of the keep) are brought in to find out what is happening. Written by
THEY WERE ALL DRAWN TO THE KEEP. The soldiers who brought death. The father and daughter fighting for life. The people who have always feared it. And the one man who knows its secret... THE KEEP Tonight, they will all face the evil.
A group of German soldiers led by Captain Klaus Woermann are sent to take guard at a Keep near a Romanian pass. One of the soldiers believes that a cross-embedded in the wall is made of silver and digs it out. Only to release an evil presence, known as Molasar. It knocks off a couple of soldiers every night. Sturmbahnfuhrer Kaempffer and his SS patrol arrive in town to stop the problem. They believe it's simply partisan activity, but they soon find out its far from it. So they get the help of a Jewish man, Dr Theodore Cuza (along with his daughter Eva) who knows a bit about this Keep. Meanwhile, a mysterious man, Glaeken Trismegatus is on his way to stop this evil.
Wow! But huh? Yeah, after spending a long time trying to see this hybrid movie. I finally got the chance and it was a very flawed, but reasonable effort by director / writer Michael Mann. I remember reading the quite interesting and extremely unique premise and being totally compelled by the idea of it. I guess not reading F. Paul Wilson's novel is a bittersweet thing, as I came in with very little expectations, but on the on other hand I was left clueless about certain disjointed sub- plots. Anyhow It's Mann's vision we got. The material is terribly mangled, jadedly rushed and comes across as pure pulp. However it's Mann's surreal direction, Alex Thomson's arresting photography and the moody electronic music score by Tangerine Dream that clicks in this atmospheric combination of fantasy, war and horror.
Sure, there was interference by the studio in the final product (with a a lot of scenes hitting the cutting room floor), but Mann seemed more preoccupied with his visuals than with the plot and characters. They became nothing more than forgettable background features. The storyline was all over the ship with forced details (like the creation of evil entity) and a script riddled with confusing holes. There's an odd assortment of performances. Those who stood out were the humane German captain played by Jurgen Prochnow and Gabriel Byrne as the tyrant SS officer. Alberta Watson as Eva felt awkward and Ian McKellen was fine. However Glenn Scott looked as if he was somewhere else in a very laboured role as Glaeken Trismegatus. An intriguing character that had VERY little to do and was hard to understand.
Visually there are plenty of potently dreamy images that spontaneously pop up. There's sharp craftsmanship in depicting certain sequences that just stick in your mind. Like when Byrne's character encounters Molasar. Worked into this is a very effective score that works the emotions thoroughly and creates a very out-of-this-world vibe. What captures this layout beautifully is Thomson's photography. His always in the right spot to get that impressive shot and original angle that just lingers on screen. The special effects is a big (if over-extended) light show that has style and the monster design can look a bit rubbery, but eventually the monster design by Nick Maley does come off. Mann knows how to stage a visually powerful scene, but if your looking for suspense. There are very few build-ups and little scares at all. The pace is slow, but the eerie setting holds up tightly and has a huge impact in the overall feel.
It isn't perfect, but it's a really unusual and hypnotic good vs. evil opus by Mann.
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