Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day Forty-Seven: The Keep (1983) - Rank 1.5/5


There are so many elements to this film that should be right. First of all, it's an adaptation of F. Paul Wilson's "The Keep," an amazing, horror novel about Nazis vs. a demon (crudely put). The head SS officer, Major Kaempffer is played by Gabriel Byrne and Ian McKellen is placed in the role of Professor Cuza, the Jewish expert in the history of the keep that the Nazis must depend on for salvation. Perfect casting on both roles. Mix all that with Michael Mann at the helm and you're guaranteed gold, right?

Wrong. The film adaptation of the novel is incomprehensible and, to be perfectly blunt, boring. Even as Nazi soldiers are murdered (most murders that are elaborately described in the book are never seen in the film), the film seems to crawl along. This is quite the conundrum, for entire portions of the novel, sections that are pertinent to the plot, were excised. As a result, there can be no tension, for all the fruitless attempts of the Germans to halt the murders are never even referenced. I'm realistic enough to know that no movie ever truly lives up tot he expectations of the fans of the original story source. However, I'm perfectly content with a film if it captures the mood of the source material. There's simply no atmosphere to speak of here.

This was Michael Mann's first, big-budget endeavor, so perhaps he was overwhelmed by the entire film. That, or it became as studio-manipulated as David Lynch's "Dune." I doubt it though. What exists of the film is scarcely impressive. From bad lighting (it's impossible to tell what is occurring in some scenes) to Tangerine Dream's intolerable score, I had to genuinely force myself to make it to the end. For that, I'm saddened to say that this might be the worst adaptation of a story I've ever seen (though "The Wicker Man" with Nicholas Cage might take the cake there - I'll never know because I'm not masochistic enough to view that dreck). Just thinking back to it angers the blood. If you're having trouble experiencing what I am as I type this, just think back to how you felt after watching "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" for the first time. At least "The Keep" didn't have CG prairie dogs...

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