Friday, October 3, 2008

31 Days Of Horror #3 The Keep

The Keep was Mann’s debut, and in an auspicious beginning the studio hacked out forty minutes and shoved the film on the bottom half of a double bill. Mann wanted to make a movie about the nature of evil and the power of the unknown, the studios wanted a movie about a giant Golem that ripped the heads off Nazis. Aside from actually dragging Mann behind their cars it’s unclear just what more the studio could have done to ensure the films failure. Which is a shame, because it means a whole lot of people missed out on what was one of the best horror films of the eighties.

The Keep, tells the story of a group of Nazi’s sent to guard a pass in Romania, the pass is inhabited by a small village, and a freaking gignormous keep, and if Indiana Jones has taught us anything, it’s that Nazi’s + Ancient Forces = Tears For All Involved. And that’s science! Say this for Michael Mann, the guy can do epic. The Keep draws much of it’s power from it’s sheer scale. The film is Herzogian in the way it shows men dwarfed by the world around them. First the Carpathian Mountains and Forest that frame the film, we always see them from a human scale, rising out of the frame almost unimaginably tall, and then in The Keep itself where Mann had access to what are either some of the biggest sets or best miniatures I’ve ever seen.

There’s not a lot in The Keep, but the space plays with your head. The Keep also draws power from scale in a Lovecraftian sense. Like the best of the author’s work, The Keep suggests the sheer size of the universe we hang suspended in and how limited our scope of it really is, it suggests forces so powerful that they could destroy us all if they so much as twitched in their sleep. The Keep isn’t a flawless film. It most certainly has all the signs of something that unceremoniously had forty minutes cut out of it, especially in the end where characters will switch from benevolent, to raving mad, to fine again in the space of the scene, and a subplot involving Scott Glenn, goes almost laughably underexplored, in it’s current form he seems to be some kind of Angel who has the power to make women want him. Still on the whole this is an impressive and epic film long overdue for re-evaluation.

And though I'd never condone such a thing. The entire thing is on Youtube. So you know... Go for it... Here's Part 1. Click on it for the other parts.


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