The Keep vs. The Believers

Sometimes, you revisit 80s movies that remind you it wasn’t all slashers back then…and also remind you of just why slashers dominated the horror genre. Some of this other shit is boring!

Of course, for me, it’s also evidence that my attention span needs just as much fun and excitement now as it did when I was a teen, because I still struggled to get through these two….

THE KEEP (1983)

 keep cover

There are a few things I love about this film, which is based on a novel by horror author F. Paul Wilson. Thanks to acclaimed electronic music group Tangerine Dream, the score is 80s Euro horror goodness. In fact, the entire movie has the look and feel of an Italian horror film from the period—even though it’s not from Italy. It even stars familiar faces like Ian McKellan, Gabriel Byrne, and the creepy dude from The Seventh Sign.

keep byrne

The major problem for me is, it’s about Nazis. It was a war movie about dicks; two reasons for me not to give a fuck. Anyway, they’re holed up in some castle fortress, two dudes try to steal a silver symbol stuck in a wall, it opens up a big sealed off cavern or room or dimension or something, and out comes a—smoke demon?

keep smoke

Even so, the smoke makes mincemeat of the two guys. It also eventually turns into a big demon with glowing red eyes. The cheesy cool kills and cheesy cool demon are the good things about The Keep. Other than that and the awesome Euro vibe, YAWN. Don’t shoot the messenger—even the director apparently doesn’t want it to ever be released on DVD because he hates it.

keep demon

The Nazis bring in a Jewish man (McKellan) and his daughter to help get rid of the demon, promising them safety if they succeed. But the demon kind of gets the Jews to be his allies. Nice message there, but hey, at least the evil plan is to kill Nazis. Unfortunately, there are way too few kills, no scares, and sloppy storytelling (which would have worked if the movie had been a gory and perverse mess like Euro horror flix).

Curiously, while the film runs 95 minutes, there’s apparently a two-hour and ten-minute cut that hasn’t been released. I might actually fight my way through it if it included more head-bursting kills.


believers cover

Just as lame as when I watched it back in the day. I guess if it had been a made-for-TV movie in 1975 (which it should have), when I was 6 years old, I would have been terrified. The Believers is essentially Rosemary’s Baby with Martin Sheen as Rosemary and a voodoo cult instead of a satanic cult.

believers eyes

What more to say, really? After Sheen’s wife dies in a funny electrocution-by-milk, he is trying to raise his son in New York City, where kids are turning up slaughtered in what look like occult rituals. Sheen, a psychiatrist, is called in by detectives to help when a cop (Jimmy Smits) starts to go crazy, babbling about how “they” are coming for him. There’s some voodoo (Angel Heart was released the same year, making it a bad year for chickens), and Martin Sheen runs around, um, like a chicken with its head cut off, until he finally realizes there is a cult and it’s after his kid.

believers sacrifice
This is your brain on voodoo?

Aside from two bugs crawling out of a hole on a chick’s face, and one voodoo dude with glassy eyes, there is nothing vaguely scary, gory, or suspenseful about this one. Not to mention, it has a torturous two-hour running time.

believers bugs

I’ll admit though, one character’s dialogue about religion, God, and prejudice was eerily timely in light of what goes on these days.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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2 Responses to The Keep vs. The Believers

  1. joshuaskye says:

    The Keep is one of my very favorite 80s horror flicks. I do LOVE Italian horror films, so it’s similarity might be why. I definitely love Tangerine Dream. I’m desperate for this one on BluRay…but I’ll take a DVD. A longer version? I NEED IT!!! The Believers is in my collection. lol

  2. Pingback: Why can’t life be like that night in the 1980s when you rented Headhunter? | BOYS, BEARS & SCARES

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