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Ghostkeeper (1981)

R  |   |  Drama, Horror, Thriller  |  1981 (Canada)
5.4
Your rating:
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 293 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 21 critic

A group of three friends on a snowmobiling trip find themselves stranded at an abandoned lodge isolated in the mountains. They discover that an old woman resides in the hotel, along with an evil entity that she is keeping in the basement.

Director:

(as James Makichuk)

Writers:

(as James Makichuk) , (as Douglas MacLeod)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Riva Spier ...
Jenny
Murray Ord ...
Marty
Sheri McFadden ...
Chrissy
Georgie Collins ...
Ghostkeeper
Les Kimber ...
Storekeeper
Bill Grove ...
Danny (as Billy Grove)
John MacMillan ...
Windigo
Edit

Storyline

A trio of friends on a snowmobiling trip in the Canadian rockies become lost after venturing up a trail during a snowstorm. They stumble upon a seemingly abandoned hotel lodge and decide to spend the night, unaware of the grave danger that they have put themselves in. Written by anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

SPINE-CHILLING SUSPENSE! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1981 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

Ghost Keeper  »

Box Office

Budget:

CAD 750,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to director Jim Makichuk the film's money started to run out when the movie was only half shot, so rather than cancel the production altogether he decided to abandon the remaining script and make things up as he went along, hoping to at least retain the film's creepy atmosphere. He said this explains the released film's rather uneven, incoherent second half and sparse use of the plot's monster. See more »

Quotes

Chrissy: How can the mountains be dangerous, they're so beautiful.
See more »

Connections

References The Living Desert (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Chilling: Force of Dementia
30 August 2009 | by (the Doomed Megalopolis of Blasphemous Technoids) – See all my reviews

***Only the 3rd & 4th paragraph contain spoilers***

I had read up a little bit on "Ghostkeeper" before I decided to get me a copy and watch it. Since up until now I hadn't really seen a movie about the Wendigo legend that actually worked like it should, I was pretty interested in seeing another take on it. Furthermore, the comment-section for this film on here, is a bit peculiar, to say the least. Not too many people seem to have seen it, and in addition to that, there seems to be hardly any gray area. Some people praise it too high heaven, while others bash it to hell. I'd like to enter that gray area.

While I'm not ignorant to the movie's flaws – because it does have its fair share of those – I would prefer to focus on its merits rather than to enlarge its shortcomings. I won't go too deep into the story and its characters, as enough of it can be read in schwarhol628's comment. Onto the things this movie has going for it. First off, the desolate, snowy Canadian mountain region provides a wonderful backdrop and adds to the bleak and hopeless tone of the film. Secondly, the musical score by Paul Zaza works wonders. Not only is it effectively eerie, it also helps to support a lot of scenes without dialogues (and there are quite a few of those). On more than one occasion you'll find yourself watching someone just walking through the dark corridors of the hotel with not much else happening. Take away the musical score, and indeed, you'll have a sequence with a whole lot of nothing going on. But the score brings a deep sense of dread and creepiness that fills up the hotel as if it was a dark, malevolent entity itself. This brings us, thirdly, by the hotel – or inn - which really feels like a forsaken place and it brings a similar presence to the film as the Overlook Hotel did for "The Shining". On a smaller scale, of course, yet also a darker one. Because this hotel, at times, really seems engulfed by darkness.

Then we have what this film's story is actually about: The myth of the Wendigo. Now when it comes to that, I felt it had a distinctive ambiguity to it. Not noticeable on the surface at first, but it becomes more and more palpable as the events progress. I've seen the Wendigo depicted as a creature already in films, but here things are a little different, drawing more influences from the spiritual aspects of the myth. An over-powering evil dichotomously divided into the earthly and the supernatural. The hotel is inhabited by a mysterious old woman – undeniably Georgie Collins gives us the best and most enjoyable performance of the whole cast – who comes across as the caretaker of the hotel, but actually is the titular Ghostkeeper. Now the title of this film, confirms how this film handles the Wendigo myth. Partly, the Wendigo is portrayed as a "beast", more specifically a ghoul-like being with cannibalistic tendencies, living a locked-up life in the basement (nourished with human flesh provided by the old woman and her "other boy"). On the other part, the Wendigo seems more like a presence or a force, filling this isolated location with evil, driving everybody who draws near the place slowly to insanity.

Now this last aspect, is also played out ambiguously. The old woman (as the Ghostkeeper under the influence of its evil) refers to Jenny as the strongest person of our trio, strong from the inside. While in reality, Jenny is the most feeble-minded of the bunch, which makes her the perfect victim for the Wendigo to get a hold of, to turn her into the new keeper. It's only gradually that the plot plays it out like this, as first everyone else either dies or slowly goes insane. Now as to the execution of this malevolent plot device, "Ghostkeeper" misses depth. And this is – aside from the obvious pacing problems – a major flaw. Instead of focusing more on the psychological downfall of the characters – admittedly, the cast of three would probably not have been able to handle this, as we're not dealing with stellar performers here – the script kills off Chrissy (the blond girl) soon enough, only to re-introduce the friendly old store-clerk from the opening scene, serving no other purpose than to also end up as food for the ghoul in the cellar. The only one left with hunger, is the viewer himself, as the script offers us little else to chew on.

Looking at "Ghostkeeper" from a glass-half-full point of view, you might be able to put all the film's flaws aside and discover a chilling tale of supernatural mystery driven by an eerie atmosphere. If not, it might remain merely a strangely compelling void of nothingness. And worst case scenario: Perhaps it could put you to sleep. Such a shame.


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