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The Keep is a 1983 horror film directed by Michael Mann and starring Scott Glenn, Gabriel Byrne, Jürgen Prochnow and Ian McKellen. It was released by Paramount Pictures. The story is based on the F. Paul Wilson novel of the same name, published in 1981 (1982 in the United Kingdommarker).

Wilson has expressed his distaste for the film version publicly, writing in the short story collection The Barren (and Others) that it is, "Visually intriguing, but otherwise utterly incomprehensible."

Despite being a critical and commercial failure, it retained a cult following, mostly due to the film's music score by Tangerine Dream and the film's mixture of Gothic horror and WWII elements.

A board game based on the film was designed by James D. Griffin and published by Mayfair Games.


The film focuses on a deserted citadel (the "Keep" of the title) in WWII Romaniamarker within which lies entrapped a dangerous and malevolent entity named (Radu) Molasar. When the Germanmarker Wehrmacht occupies the castle to control the Dinu Mountain Pass, Molasar is unwittingly unleashed from deep within the innermost recesses of the citadel by a pair of treasure-seeking soldiers and he consumes their life energy. A detachment of Einsatzkommandos then arrives to deal with what is thought to be partisan activity. The Einsatzkommandos' actions only fuel the demon's hunger for bloodshed and soon more troops begin to die in mysterious, gruesome ways.

At the instigation of the local priest, the Germans are duped into retrieving Jewish History Professor Cuza from a death camp to decipher a mysterious message emblazoned on a wall of the Keep. The demonic and, at this point, cloudlike Molasar saves the professor's daughter, Eva Cuza, from a sexual assault by two German soldiers and then enlists the aid of her grateful father to escape from the Keep. Cuza is also cured of his debilitating scleroderma by the touch of Molasar and therefore becomes doubly indebted to the malevolent entity. A mysterious stranger arrives to foil this plan, however. After a misguided and unsuccessful attempt by the professor to have the stranger stopped, the two supernatural beings engage in a confrontation in which the demon is weakened and drawn back into the innermost recesses, and the hero inevitably finds himself pulled in as well, his fate linked with the demon that was his destined foe to guard from ever escaping the Keep. At this point, the studio version of the film comes to an end.

In the extended version of the film, the otherworldly stranger, identified by Eva Cuza as Glaeken "Trismaegistus" (Latin for "Three-Fold Master") in an easily overlooked line (the demon too is named in the scene), after falling for a long time through the abyss of the keep's lower caves, wakes later up on the lowest level of the Keep and notices he can see his reflection in a puddle of water. This indicates that, presumably due to the death of the demon with whom he was mystically linked, he has become an ordinary mortal man, instead of dying as he had predicted. Eva comes to him, and he is now free to live out the rest of his natural span with the woman who rescues him.


The score

The theme and incidental music was by Tangerine Dream. Although the soundtrack was eventually released in 1997, out of 16 tracks only three actually appeared in the film.


  • Bruce Payne and Jurgen Prochnow also appeared together in the 2001 film Ripper


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