Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


The Keep (1983) US/UK

This movie should have been amazing. Should have. Yes, it's my last Nazi movie for a while and I've just dumped the rest of my draft pile, realizing I'll just need to watch stuff again and make new reviews because looking over my notes gives me a bigger headache than you'll get if you try to watch and understand what the hell is going on in this movie.

I mean my God, look at the cast. Ian McKellan (he wasn't knighted until 1991), Scott Glenn, Jürgen Prochnow, Gabriel Byrne, and other prestigious names well versed in film and theater including Rosalie Crutchley, who starred in the original The Haunting (1963) the first film of the book The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, that they totally ruined with the awful 1999 The Haunting with... other people.

So it has to be epic, right? I mean it's about Nazis and a huge stone fortress with an evil spirit locked inside and only a Jewish man can help them figure out what's going on and... nothing. This movie is one huge six million in 1983 dollars ($7,169,608.43 today) 210 mind numbing minutes (unless you're lucky and see the 91 minute version) of... nothing. This movie should have been right up there with Star Wars, or Indiana Jones, or Star Trek. Instead it's a movie that when most people hear the title they scratch their head and say, 'huh?'. Shame.

I'll try to keep this blissfully short since I've been tending to run on and on with horrible movies. Funny how easy the decent ones are to review, yet the really bad ones take days. Hmm...

So the story was simple, the actors great and the setting a winner. So why did this movie suck so bad? Perhaps (my theory, keep that in mind) the actors weren't really given a whole lot to go on in this movie. After all, this is about the spirits of good and evil, and how little mortal man means to the big picture as far as whether they are good or evil. Does that even make sense? No? Well, now you know why this movie will make you scratch your head so hard it'll draw blood.

We are in Romania during WWII. The Nazis are moving in and plan to occupy this small town when they notice a huge fortress that the locals call 'The Keep'. Well, nothing's too good for Nazis so despite local protests (which meant diddly to the soldiers anyway) they all move in. Now you've got to be thinking (which is a dangerous thing to do in a movie like this - you could cause a seizure), hey, sounds like a cool movie to me - Star Wars without the ships and the aliens and the lightsabers and the special effects and the... wait a minute...

Told you not to think. Go get a tissue and wipe that blood from your eyes.

Like every movie with a group of anybody in it, we've got different 'kinds' of Nazis - those who are sympathetic to the people they're tromping on, those who want to tromp on them harder, and those who just want to blast the whole world to kingdom come and get it over with. 

In the small village by The Keep is a Jewish scholar (Ian McKellan) and his daughter who soon will be under the focus of the Nazis. See, this big rock is keeping inside something called Radu Molasar (a crappy low-budget looking monster). The Keep isn't preventing him from leaving, but a cross embedded in a wall is.

Now, here I could get into what makes a cross, whether a cross as is pictured was actually used to kill Jesus, on and on. Nope. Believe what you want, I'm too tired.

I'll just give a brief entry from wiki: The Cross of Tau, named after the Greek letter it resembles, is a form of the Christian cross symbol. It is also variously St. Anthony's Cross, Old Testament Cross, Anticipatory Cross, Cross Commissee, Egyptian Cross, Advent Cross, Croce taumata, Saint Francis's Cross, Crux Commissa. The shape of the letter tau or T was interpreted as representing a crucifix from antiquity.

So. There are (and somebody thought this meant something although the movie mucks this up so badly that the meaning is lost) 108 total 'T' symbols in metal embedded in the walls throughout The Keep. Two greedy Nazi soldiers decide to steal one, only to find them made of nickel. They figure that a ton of worthless 'T's were there in order to hide a valuable 'T' and since this is war and they have nothing better to do, they go look for it.

In the meantime we have Scott Glenn. This is absolutely the most awful, badly developed, worthless 'hero' in the history of film - and the writer of the book would probably agree. Scott plays a mysterious being named Glaeken Trismegestus (I am NOT making this up) whose whole life is to apparently wait around the centuries in case some idiot lets out the evil in The Keep. He 'senses' Radu is loose, grabs his mysterious... gym bag and heads to Romania. Wow, what a man.

So. Again. The two Nazi stooges find the silver 'T' and dig it out. Bad move. Or good move, if you want this movie to end more quickly. Once Ragu... I'm sorry, that's spaghetti sauce... once RADU is unleashed, Nazis in The Keep start to die. Nasty Nazi SD Sturmbannführer Eric Kaempffer (Gabriel Byrne) tells the villagers every time a Nazi dies an angel gets his wings... sorry. Every time a Nazi is killed, they will kill a villager. A priest finally convinces them to use the services of a Jewish professor (Ian McKellen) to interpret writing they found within The Keep to prevent further deaths. Because he has a smoking hot daughter (um, that's according to the movie) Kaempffer is more than happy to have the two as guests in the freezing stone whatsijigger.

But the professor suffers from scleroderma, which can be made much worse in cold, damp places. Plus the naughty Nazis won't leave his daughter alone. He discovers the freed Radu and sort of does one of those 'deal with the devil' things that are stupid 'cause how do you end them once you start? Radu saves the daughter and sends her back to the village, then cures the professor of his ailment. So who is really evil and who is really good? I'm sure the book kept everything straight, but this movie was just a huge mess.

While back at the inn in the little town the professor's daughter, Eva, meets up with Glaeken and (I am NOT kidding) within ONE MINUTE OF MEETING HIM and before she can ask "Are you a vampire? 'Cause you have no reflection... and what the hell is wrong with your eyes?" (they glow), they have sex. The only thing I can postulate (and I hate to do that 'cause I'm usually wrong) I would say this was either because the movie was botched, or because the 'Hello my name is...' part of their relationship ended up on the cutting room floor.

Let's end this mess, okay? The professor realizes he's been a bad, bad boy, he finds a flashlight that's supposed to help dispel the evil (I shit you not, it's a freaking flashlight that they're trying to make into some sort of icon). But that's not even nearly as bad as what Glaeken has been carrying around with him this whole movie. His secret weapon? A BLACK PIPE. No, not the smoking kind, the kind that is everywhere in your house. WHAT'S THE BLACK PIPE FOR? For holding the flashlight of course! DUH!

So. The professor comes back from the dark side, Glaeken uses his magic pipe-n-flashlight to force Radu back into his prison - his eyes turn into grids for some reason they're not going to tell you, and the flashlight on a stick lights up all the T's which pisses the badly done smoking dude considerably.

As the film runs backwards, into the rock goes the monster, all the smoke, and Glaeken, for some reason they're not going to tell you, now is fused to The Keep, but at least all the Nazis there are dead (all what, thirty? big deal).

Fin. Forever.