Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Keep, The

US movie (1983). Paramount. Pr Gene Kirkwood, Howard W Koch Jr. Exec pr Colin M Brewer. Dir Michael Mann. Spfx Nick Allder. Vfx Wally Veevers, Robin Browne. Mufx Nick Maley. Laser fx John Carr, Ken Goddard. Screenplay Mann. Based on The Keep (1981) by F Paul Wilson. Starring Gabriel Byrne (Kaempffer), Michael Carter (Radu Molasar), Scott Glenn (Glaeken), Ian McKellen (Dr Theodor Cuza), Jürgen Prochnow (Woermann), Robert Prosky (Father Mikhail Fenescu), Alberta Watson (Eva Cuza). 93 mins. Colour.

German soldiers led by Woermann are sent in 1943 to occupy a grim fortress in the Dinu Pass, Romania. The locals – led by Father Fenescu – warn them to leave it alone, but will not say why. Almost at once two sentries discover a vault far vaster than the Keep itself (> Little Big), but are swiftly and gorily killed by an emergent miasma, Molasar, which has been in Bondage. The death-toll rises, but at last an enigmatic quasi-mortal called Glaeken uses a Talisman to re-incarcerate Molasar, at the cost of incarcerating himself alongside.

This impressive but somewhat impenetrable art/Horror Movie cross (its plot is far more complicated than described above) is widely regarded as a "lost masterpiece". It is in fact no masterpiece, though worth watching for the use of light and colour alone. Yet no amount of visual splendour or cod philosophical underpinning can obscure the fact that the basic story is hokum; seemingly aware of this, Mann has stripped it back until too little is explained for us ever to have any confidence as to what exactly is going on. Even so, TK's visual beauty and ambience – both echoing the work of Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1987), as does the stolidly measured pace – impress. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.