THE KEEPER (1976)
Directed by T.Y. Drake
Featuring Christopher Lee, Tell Schreiber, Sally Gray
What it is: Crime / Horror movie
A private investigator is checking into the doings at an exclusive insane asylum for the rich; the families of the patients have been dying off, leaving the inmates with as the sole heirs.
One of Christopher Lee's most striking natural traits is his great height; his ability to tower over the other cast members gives him an imposing presence. Therefore, to saddle him with a handicap that forces him to hunch over and walk with a cane, especially when there's no decent reason dramatically for him to be this way, seems counter-productive. Now I don't know whether that was a choice of the director, the writer, or Lee himself, but that's just one of the many problems of this rather plodding and bizarre movie that just might be described as a Canadian krimi. Other problems include the presence of one of the most dimwitted (and worst) comic relief cops in the history of cinema; I'm not sure whether the gusto with which actor Ross Vezarian throws himself into this part is something worthy of admiration or mounting horror. The lackluster direction and general sense of absurdity certainly don't help. And yet... I can't quite bring myself to write the movie completely off. There are certain odd touches to the story that keep it interesting (such as the existence of an extraordinarily useful shoeshine boy and a plot point that involves twins with a Corsican-brothers like sensitivity to each other), and even if Lee does seem a little lost here, I never get the sense that he's just blowing this one off. Make no mistake - the movie is bad, but at least it's interesting bad.