Friday, November 07, 2014

THE KEEP (1983) - Michael Mann

The only thing recognizably "Mann-ish" about this supernatural Nazi horror tale might be the synthy Tangerine Dream score. Even that only brings to mind scattered scenes in Thief (also scored by TD). The rest of the time you're watching and wondering, "Could really be the same Michael Mann? He of Miami Vice, Manhunter and assorted, intelligent crime tales?"

Well, I'm very sorry to report, yes, it is THAT Michael Mann. And, yes, as I'd heard, The Keep is kinda terrible. Greedy SS Men get a vague, otherworldly comeuppance when they take over an ancient Romanian "keep" inhabited by a being that looks like a cross between the Metropolis robot and Predator-era Schwarzenegger. Don't expect any intricate Mann-style plotting. When these Nazis want to rob the silver crucifixes (actually, nickel) on the wall, they simply take a hammer and crowbar to them. Frank from Thief or Neil McCauley from Heat need not apply.

The Keep's Nazi elements are pretty tame (you'll find no Swastika-tatted Waingro's here). Here's what you get: Jurgen Prochnow as a gentle "good guy" Nazi, Gabriel Byrne as the token blustery bad Nazi, Scott Glenn as a "magic man" whose eyes occasionally glow and body occasionally bleeds green. You also get a young Gandalf (Ian McKellen) as a rapid-aging Jewish academic brought in to translate the Keep's secrets and the mom from Spanking the Monkey as his daughter brought in to basically service Scott Glenn in a laughable softcore love scene. If all it takes is a few unintentional laughs and handful of humorless Nazis and outdated SFX to keep you entertained, then by all means check into The Keep.

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