The Keep (1983)

4.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Some interesting visuals, good cast

A story with potential is hacked to pieces

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Keep

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  December 16, 1983

MPAA Rating:  R


Oh…that enchilada was spicy!!!

German forces have taken over a keep in Romania as World War II rages.  When soldiers accidentally unleash a horror from within the walls of the keep, German soldiers begin to die.  A Jewish historian named Professor Theodore Cuza (Ian McKellen) and his daughter Eva (Alberta Watson) are brought in to stop the murders by Sturmbannführer Erich Kaempffer (Gabriel Byrne) as a stranger named Glaeken (Scott Glenn) arrives at the keep that could be the only hope in stopping the evil.

Directed by Michael Mann, The Keep is a horror film that adapts the 1981 F. Paul Wilson novel.  The movie faced multiple production problems and was cut down from 210 minutes to 96 minutes.  The movie was met with negative reviews but has gained a cult following over the years.


Ok…I’m faced with a giant muscle-ly guy with glowing red eyes…a cross I guess would be as effective as a gun.

The Keep is a mess.  It is one of those classic stories of a director and studio butting heads.  I’ve read the book and despite the conflict, I don’t know if The Keep would have been a good movie if even if Mann had gotten his way.

The Keep has some good story aspects.  It ties in Romania and tales of vampires with a classic story of good vs. evil.  The film however is so hacked up that it never really establishes the characters that hold this type of story together.  The archetypes are all there, but they are so underdeveloped that the movie collapses because the viewer never really gets a good idea of what is going on.

The cast however is strong.  You have Ian McKellen in a young role as the elderly professor who is granted youth by the demonic Radu Molasar (played by the imposing Michael Carter).  Gabriel Byrnes also has an early role as the Nazi leader and Robert Prosky plays the priest trying to protect the keep.  Alberta Watson is the love interest for Scott Glenn who is the mysterious antithesis to Radu Molasar…who really isn’t explained.


Back off or I’ll use my giant lightsaber on you!

The movies visuals are both good and bad.  Time has not been kind to The Keep and some of Mann’s effects are cheesy light shows.  I do kind of like Radu Molasar and his red eyes and mouth…but today he’s be computer generated.  Mann does show skill his framing of shots which do have some power to them.

The Keep is worth seeking out since it is so short and just bizarre.  It isn’t a good movie, but it does have its moments.  You can see a lot of potential in The Keep and there has been talk of remaking it.  I could see it happen and I think that it could be decent…if it ironed out some script points and kept some of Mann’s style.

Stream it now on

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response