Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Church (1989)

Directed by Michele Soavi, The Church is, allegedly, an official sequel to the Demons movies. I'm not sure who decided that, considering that it bears very little resemblance to those other films, beyond the superficial similarities (e.g. some people in a building, and some demons causing problems).

The plot is much more reminiscent of Prince Of Darkness, dealing with a group of people in a church who are unfortunate enough to witness something truly evil arising. Perhaps. There's a priest (Hugh Quarshie) who might be able to help good triumph over any demonic attack, a couple of scholarly, but not old and dull, folks (Tomas Arana and Barbara Cupisti) who might also be able to help, if they're not too busy making eyes at one another and putting themselves in potential danger, and there's a young girl (Asia Argento) who knows a secret way in and out of the church that might just prove useful at some point.

The strangest thing about The Church is that it feels so dull, despite the fact that so much wonderful imagery is thrown around in the second half of the movie. There's a decent amount of gore, some real nastiness, and an air of sleaziness that fans of Italian horror should enjoy. This is the sort of movie in which you can feel the clammy presence oozing from every dark crevice of the featured building while also feeling the hot, uncomfortable looks that certain characters give to others as they come under the influence of evil.

Quarshie is pretty solid in his role, while Arana and Cupisti both make for decent potential leads until they're somewhat sidelined in the third act. Argento doesn't have to stretch herself, and is just fine, while genre fave Giovanni Lombardo Radice also joins in with the fun, accompanied by Feodor Chaliapin Jr, Antonella Vitale and Robert Caruso, among others.

Soavi's direction is as fluid and stylish as usual, and the screenplay (by Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, and Soavi, as well as a few other helpers) tries to set everything up seriously, but makes the whole thing just that little bit absurd. The opening sequence alone feels like an outtake from Monty Python And The Holy Grail, and that's before you get to the scenes that show people talking about the history of the church and what discoveries might be made there AKA the laughably clumsy exposition moments.

But there's gore, death, lust, a score that uses Goblin, Philip Glass, Keith Emerson and Fabio Pignatelli, and some memorable imagery. Which is often all you need from these movies.



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