Posted on 1/27/13 06:19 AM
This is a film I first saw many many years ago. I remember quite enjoying it back then; but I have seen many more films since then and so decided it was time to give it a second look. In the cold light of day, and without the distraction of a night out beforehand, it took on a whole different look. I can't say I've entirely changed my view, but I can say that I can now see many more of its flaws. Here's a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
It is World War II and a troop of German soldiers are sent to hold a pass in the Romanian Alps. The small village they are sent to has an ancient Keep built into the side of the mountain and it is here they set up their headquarters. The leader, Captain Klaus Woermann (Jürgen Prochnow) is a decent man and he leaves the locals to their business. Some of his troops decide that the crosses built into the walls of the Keep might be made of silver and try to dig them out. In doing this they release a supernatural entity that begins to kill them off one by one. Enter the SS led by the ruthless Major Kaempffer (Gabriel Byrne). He is not so tolerant of the locals and begins killing them in retribution for the soldiers' deaths. Of course this has no effect and the local priest, Father Mihail Fonescu (Robert Prosky) persuades the Major to being in an expert on the Keep. He is a Jew, Dr. Theodore Cuza (Ian McKellen), who arrives with his daughter, Eva (Alberta Watson). Meanwhile a mysterious man, Glaeken Trismegestus (Scott Glenn), is making his way to the Keep; he knows much more about the evil that has been unleashed there and is probably the only person who can stop it... But is he too late? I think that's enough for now.
Pretty well made for its day although the effects to look quite dated by today's standards. I can't say I was entirely enamoured with Tangerine Dream's musical score either; it just didn't seem to fit. As for the performances, well I thought both Jürgen Prochnow and Gabriel Byrne were excellent; Prochnow again proving just what a fine actor he is and Byrne playing a very believable and loathsome character very well. What lets it down is the fact that the audience are allowed to actually see the entity that is causing all the deaths. If you know anything about what scares people, it's the things you don't see that scare you; the things your imagination can run wild with. Once the monster, Molasar, is seen all that mystery is lost and it can never have as much impact. Michael Mann did a fair enough job but I felt there were a few too many lingering shots and a little too much exposition in places. Even so, I still quite enjoyed it, although the book is much better.
SteelMonster's verdict: RECOMMENDED (Just)
My score: 6.2/10.