Moonlighting – tape 331

After yesterday’s frankly harrowing tape – Bicycle Thieves, Enniskillen Bombing and a priest with Aids, let’s hope some Moonlighting will cheer us up.

Read The Mind… See The Movie starts with a demonstration of a portable laser to a panel of important looking Army people which goes horribly wrong. The company just happens to have the Blue Moon agency handling their security.

So when they threaten to terminate the contract, Maddie goes to schmooze the company’s competitor, who admits he’s been privy to company secrets, but swears not to have stolen them. He claims to have got them from a famous psychic.

But it turns out the psychic is working with the head of the original company, getting him to feed ideas to his father who is still in charge of the company, and who visits the psychic regularly.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 5th June 1986 – 21:00

After this, no more Moonlighting. because there’s an unlabelled programme, and this time it’s something quite unusual.

It’s Michael Mann’s The Keep, a gothic horror war film starring Scott Glenn and Ian McKellen, and showing here as part of BBC2’s Lost and Found season. Here’s the introduction.

A group of Nazi soldiers arrive at a remote village in Romania, in the Carpathian Alps. There’s a huge castle Keep there, whose purpose seems uncertain, and they are warned by caretaker W Morgan Sheppard about interfering with the many nickel crosses embedded in the walls, which some of the soldiers are convinced are silver. So when two of them try to pull one of the crosses from the wall, and in doing so open up a hole in the wall, and are then both killed, it’s clear they should have listened to old man Sheppard.

Good Nazi Jurgen Prochnow is worried when five of his men are killed, and strange writing appears on the walls, so he sends for backup, and regrets it when backup arrives in the form of evil Nazi Gabriel Byrne and his troop of SS officers, whose first diplomatic move is to shoot three random villagers for being partisans.

Priest Robert Prosky tells Byrne and Prochnow that the writing on the wall is not Romanian, and only a local scholar could translate it – Ian McKellen who, being Jewish, is in a concentration camp.

Robert Prosky and Gabriel Byrne

Meanwhile, in Greece, Scott Glenn wakes up with glowy eyes, and immediately knows he has to get to Romania. I’m sure this will be important at some point.

Scott Glenn

McKellen is brought to the keep with his daughter. The priest wants to get him out of the country which is why he told Herr Byrne to fetch him (although he is also an expert, and translated the words with ease). His daughter attracts the unwanted attention of the SS guards, two of whom assault her, but then whatever the mysterious force in the keep is goes all Ark of the Covenant on their nazi asses, and they’re killed too.

Raidersesque

McKellen’s daughter, Alberta Watson, is rescued by whatever it is, a totally freaky smoke monster that’s a brilliant piece of special effects.

Freaky_Smoke_Monster

It brings her back to McKellen, accuses him of collaborating, then zaps him when he says he’d never collaborate, and when he wakes up he’s suddenly much younger (although still Ian McKellen). This explains his previous, rather extreme old-age makeup.

Watson is taken to the hotel in the village, away from the Keep where she meets the recently arrived Scott Glenn, who’s quite the charmer, as they’re bonking in minutes.

Meanwhile, the newly sprightly McKellen in confronted again by the freaky smoke monster, who’s differently creepy once the smoke effect has worn off.

Keep Monster

He wants McKellen to take a talisman out of the Keep into the mountains, so that he can leave the Keep and kill all the nazis. Well, that’s what he tells McKellen. Glenn tells him the creature is worse than the nazis.

There’s a nice beat towards the end. McKellen is under the creature’s influence, and attacking his daughter when the creature orders him to kill her. This gives him pause. “Who are you, that you would order me to kill my child?” Another nice biblical reference in a film awash with them.

It all ends in a big wizard fight between Scott Glenn and the monster. McKellen and Watson make it out alive, but he’s back to being old again.

The score for the film is by Tangerine Dream, and for the most part it’s fairly forgettable, if not quite out of place. There’s a cue at the end, though, that I swear is almost note for note the tune of ‘Walking in the Air’ from The Snowman.

And holy cow, that’s exactly what it is!

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 11th September 1994 – 22:40

Following this, the start of a Moviedrome presentation of Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly. The whole film isn’t here, but here’s Alex Cox’s introduction.

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2 comments

  1. Two things I watched as they went out, The Keep is a fantastic horror novel but the film is a mess, even though I knew what was happening I was wondering what was happening.

    Thanks for the Moviedrome upload, there’s a few of these on YT now and they’re all great, Cox would get to the salient points with ease, but you never get film seasons on TV now, not even Saturday night chillers. Robert Aldrich was the most represented director on MD? Kiss Me Deadly is indeed a cult classic, so fair enough.

    1. I get the feeling that, in this world of DVD, Blu-Ray and Netflix, films on the BBC just aren’t classed as important parts of the schedule, they’re just stuck in there to fill time. Long gone are the seasons of wednesday evening black & white science fiction movies they used to run. Or, indeed, Moviedrome or The Film Club.

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