Michael Mann’s ‘The Keep’

The Keep is based on the 1981 horror novel, of the same name, by American author F. Paul Wilson. The Keep was the first of six novels, called ‘The Adversary Cycle’


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…

Tonight, they will all face the evil.


Set in April 1941, Nazi soldiers are using the Keep of a castle, which is set high in the Romanian Carpathian mountains, as a base. Unfortunately, the soldiers are being killed off one-by-one by a mysterious entity. The Nazi commander asks for help and an SS extermination squad is sent to remedy the problem. Soon the SS soldiers are dying, too, so the SS officer has a Professor and his daughter, from Bucharest, brought to the Keep, in order to find out what is killing his men. The Professor, an expert in old Slovanic and Romanian dialects, is charged with deciphering a cryptic message that has been left on the walls of the Keep, in blood. The entity turns out to be an old evil, from an age of sorcerers, that has been imprisoned beneath the Keep for millenia. Seeing a use in the Professor, who is whellchair bound, the entity promises him his health and youth back in return for his help. Soon after, an immortal who built the Keep as a prison arrives and, with the help of the Professors daughter, fights the evil.


Although not full of action or the blood-and-guts horror of recent times, this is a classic of the genre. Boasting a cast that includes Ian McKellen, Scott Glenn, Jurgen Prochnow, Gabriel Byrne, Alberta Waton & William Morgan Sheppard, this should have been an instant hit. The screenplay, written by Michael Mann, is short and concise with the actors ‘becoming’ their charaters, to add power to the story. Filmed with hardly any colour and with very few sets, the film can come across as slightly claustrophobic, which only adds to the heightening terror. The soundtrack, by Tangerine Dream, gives the film an almost dreamlike quality, which is at total odds with the 1941 setting of Nazi occupied Romania. But, somehow, it all works. When it was released, it became an instant ‘cult’ hit but was a critical and financial disaster for Paramount.


In July 2006, F. Paul Wilson made ‘The Keep’ into a graphic novel. His reason for this was to visualise what his version of the film would have been like.

All-in-all I give this film 7/10


All comments are welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s