The Keeper (2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Keeper is about a law officer whose mental processes have gone off the deep end. I mean way off the deep end. Let's just say that the lights are flashin', and the gate is down, but the train ain't comin'. Dennis Hopper plays the loony lieutenant, and Asia Argento plays the object of his lunacy, a stripper who almost becomes a victim of a serial stripper killer. After she is questioned about the assault, she is on her way to a safer town for strippers when she's abducted by Krazy Kop, who locks her in a homemade jail cell in his basement. The policeman doesn't want to kill, torture, or rape the dancer. He simply wants to protect her from the world, and to teach her proper behavior. He's fallen far enough from his rocker that he is convinced that he can court her while she is in the makeshift prison, and that she will eventually fall in love with him.

That premise is neither very original (The Collector and Lady in a Cage covered similar ground), nor very liberating to a screenwriter. After all, how many directions can one take with such a premise? The woman can pretend to co-operate in order to facilitate escape, and ... what else? In the end, the abductor and the victim must face off, and you can usually place your money on the victim. I don't know if we will see one where the two do fall in love and live happily ever after; or maybe one where the women simply rots away in the cage when the abductor has an auto accident; or maybe one where the abductor finally realizes the plan won't work, so he kills his victim and resumes his previous life with no one the wiser.

This script does manage to work around the limitations of the main plot by introducing an extraordinarily daffy sub-plot. The policeman, being the good cop that he really is at heart, goes around to elementary schools with an anti-drug puppet show of the Punch-and-Judy variety. A local producer has a grand vision that the puppet shows might hit the big time if packaged properly. She dreams that the shows could become public service programs for national broadcast, and that the cop and his puppets could become universal anti-crime icons like McGruff the Crime Dog. The element which makes it so daffy is that the producer has a raging, monomaniacal crush on the cop, and she is a deeply disturbed woman who intends to do whatever is necessary to get her man. She's so disturbed that even Dennis Hopper finds her a little odd! (The normally dignified Helen Shaver seemed to have a good time playing this uncharacteristic, scenery-chewing part.)

The focus of the movie changes a bit when the king of the stalkers is himself being stalked! Normally it might be kind of cool for an insane dude to have a beautiful groupie, but in this case, ol' Hopper really doesn't want any female admirers dropping by his house, since he has converted it to an ad-hoc reform school for wayward strippers. When the producer does show up, the only result can be an ol' fashioned nut-off. Disappointingly, the ending of the film returns to familiar ground, but there were a few moments of inspired lunacy along the way.

The Keeper had a four million dollar budget and was shopped at a couple of festivals back in 2004. There were no bites from theatrical distributors so it ended up entering the American market as a Showtime movie, fading thence into obscurity. Given that and the low IMDb score, this film is not likely to join Psycho or Silence of the Lambs in the pantheon of great insanity movies, but the film is much more entertaining than I thought it would be. Argento, Shaver, and Hopper can be very watchable and the script strays off into some unexpected directions.



  • No features except an image gallery
  • The transfer is widescreen, anamorphically enhanced (16x9)



Asia Argento shows her breasts behind a shower curtain for about four frames. You won't even see it unless you freeze-frame. Later in the film she shows her bum far from the camera. The latter scene may use a body double, because her famous tattoo is not visible, but it is not a clear enough view to enable a conclusion.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-, a watchable genre film.

Return to the Movie House home page