Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., Barbara Cupisti, Antonella Vitale
Director: Michele Soavi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
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Making Church Fun
TastyBabySyndrome | "Daddy Dagon's Daycare" - Proud Sponsor of the Lit | 04/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being a fan of Argento's works, I will say upfront that my views are slightly skewed in his favor. Still, this work, teaming Argento with Michele Soavi, is something of a favorite of mine. As viewers, we find ourselves introduced to a church that was, in times past, erected to contain the pesky menace of its vengeful, longtime occupants. To illustrate this, we get a lovely sequence showing the seeming slaughter and subsequent burial of all an entire village. It looks like brutality at its finest at first, but then, as hands grasp at those who try to trap the damned here, the crusaders seem to have found more than they can handle. So, how do you handle this? Why, seal it up and build a church on it, of course! Fastforwarding to the future, the church and its guarded secret is threatened and, of course, unleashed upon those unlucky enough to be trapped inside. Of course, this leads to an ending most befitting.
This film brims with an eerie atmosphere that, most deservedly, helped gain Soavi a reputation as an excellent filmmaker, plus it has some nice Darioesque qualities as well. Asia Argento is here, just begging to become victimized by yet another manifestation of evil, and Goblin gives us another work of art. Combining these qualities with the fact that even the subway, a normally defunct "roadblock" at best, finds itself an unlikely killing machine, I'd have to recommend it as something to use to tuck the children in.
Strengthening the family ties with the fear of demonic possession, that's the trait of a loving parent. Buy it today!"
Was I the only one who gave this a chance?
king_vet_red_man | spider hole, iraq | 03/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't know why so many people chose to ignore this movie. While I love Fulci and Argento, many critics of Church consider mediocre efforts such as New York Ripper, Phenomena, and Demons to be "Italian Horror Classics". This movie makes those films look like boring puddles of puke.
Sure, there are things wrong with this movie, but I've made a list of reasons why this deserves to be a classic:
1. The church itself is amazing! While many "Catholic Metaphysics" horror films come off as un-researched and exaggerated, this movie seems truly authentic.
2. The style of this film, worked by director Michele Soavi, has the same level of atmospheric moodiness that made movies like "The Beyond" and "Suspiria" classics. Any time you can make the day seem creepy you've done something right.
3. ... horror movies ... because if they aren't plain cheesy, they lack anything distinct and memorable that you could recall ten minutes after watching. (example: New York Ripper)
This film is LOADED with all sorts of creative and twisted gags, I can't even remember all the things that stood out to me while I watched it.
4. It has a crazy score by Goblin (for those uninitiated, sorry)
5. The subject matter and subtle historical references are intriguing and mostly accurate. (I never knew anything about alchemy or Fulcanelli, but now i'm scouring the internet for it)
6. Most "we're trapped in the haunted house" movies reduce themselves to frantic pandemonium reminiscent of the end of "Project X". Soavi shows incredible restraint in using body counts, gore, or cheap predictable pops to maintain the action.
(Although there is gore, and creative gore at that, it doesn't become a crutch)
7. This movie has total party value. Classics work in the context of being home alone at night, and having a bunch of people hanging around drinking beers. Church had my friends saying "Oh ..., rewind that!"
8. The special effects are clever and impressive. I didn't see the climax coming simply because I didn't even think that any film made on a horror budget could afford something that dope.
9. You get to see Asia Argento act as a young kid (even back then, writer Dario Argento had his little girl being menaced by demons and abusive fathers)
10. The failure in the plot doesn't wholly distract you from what's going on. For the most part, the little cracks in the plot help the uneasy feel of the movie, especially when you're watching it at 1 o'clock in the morning.
With respect to the horror experts, I think that many of them have a bias against any Italian horror film that wasn't made during the classic era of Italian horror (Church was made in the 80's, and to be fair, horror movies ... big time in the 80's)
Horror critics have a inclination to like something more if it belongs to a genre, or has a cult name director.
Church is only [money], give it a whirl."
Stylish and Odd
General Zombie | the West | 10/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great atmospheric, gothic horror film with a bit of gore to spice things up. There's not much going on as far as plot is concerned. We have a prologue showing a group of Templars massacreing a supposedly Satannically obsessed pack of villagers, and then building a cathedral over top of the burial ground. Fast forward to the modern day, where a demonic curse is released by an overly curious librarian, leading to havoc and the trapping of a number of individuals within the cathedral. That's about the short and long of it. People are possessed by demons, demons run amuck, the cathedral is shot ominously, it's all rainy, characters do little but release demons/be possessed by demons/be killed by demons etc. The plot doesn't much matter, and Soavi doesn't let it get in the way of the good stuff.
This has got some really good production values, and the acting is generally quite good by the standards of this sort of fare.(I particularly the librarian, during the day after he was possessed, but before things really go crazy.) Virtually all the performances are acceptable, at the very least, with the exception of the whiny old man, who is very annoying. I'm not as impressed by the demon effects as some are. Personally, I think they are simultaneously quite impressive technically, and a bit hokey in design. However, they are given a minimum of screen time, and work pretty well when used in such a manner. The gore is generally very well executed, with the exception of the decapitation in the opening scene, which is a bit weak. The highlight is, obviously, the suicide by Jackhammer. A hideous concept executed beautifully. Other than that we've got a guy impaled on a spier, impalation through the neck with a gate, facial self-mutilation, a chick getting smashed by a subway car, another decapitated head etc. Generally, the gore works well. Too much gore would've been inappropriate, but without any things might've been a bit too slow and uneventful. Soavi finds just the right balance.
This film is all about atmosphere. The entire film has a fairly dark, oppressive air to it, particularly in the opening section and the scenes after they're trapped in the cathedral.(The shots of them just sitting around the cathedra waiting are particularly effective) Soavi's camerwork is obviously influenced by his mentor Argento, using lots of low-angle shots, and lots of slow, prowling shots examining the interior of the cathedral. However, unlike Argento, the cathedral is largely presented as is, without the colored lighting and bizarre set design you frequently find in an Argento film.(This is the way it should be; the cathedral itself is ominous enough.) The soundtrack, partially done by Goblin, is quite effective. It's nothing particularly surprising, but it's nice and ominous without being overbearing or hokey.
Fans of Dario Argento will probably want to check this out. It's quite different from anything I've seen from him, but it's got a bit of the same flavor. Fans of The Beyond may also want to check this out, provided they actually enjoyed the atmospheric portions of the Beyond along with the gore. Personally, I was sufficiently impressed that I'm really looking forward to seeing the rest of Soavi's films, should they ever get released on DVD.(or arrive at my house... stupid mailman)
Also, its got hot demon sex."
One of the best Gothic horror films of all time
Dancing Ganesha | Bangalore, India | 05/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is a soaring and yet melancholy feeling present in The Church that is typical of Soavi's horror films. The surreality is only emphasised by this Gothic touch of degredation and ethereality that makes the movie sublime in some senses. The soundtrack is also quite effective and really serves to create a sense of mystery and awe.
Aside from that, there are some very interesting and effective set-pieces that makes this film unique. I don't want to get too detailed and give away the plot, so that's all I can say. There is also an abundance of symbols and metaphors.
I know there are some reviewers who seemed baffled by the contradictions in this film, but they are intentional. For example, one reviewer did not understand why at first the heretics in this story were both guilty and innocent. This is very deliberate, as there is the suggestion in this story of past actions becoming one's karma in the present and therefore, the actions of their accusers might as well also be evil and have its own dire consequences. That's all I will say here, but attempt to view this film with a much broader scope than you would an average American horror.
Some may recognise a young Asia Argento (Lotte). Her performance here is good, and most of the performances are quite intense. As another reviewer noted, the costumes tend to look unique and are effective, unlike the self-consciousness of most Hollywood epics that tend to use very saccharine getups.
To sum up the film, it is a complex Gothic horror/mystery with great acting, costumes, settings, and superb imagination. It's really too bad Soavi stopped making horror films, because he is extremely talented; however, I am really glad to finally see true Gothic horror like The Church getting good reviews here on Amazon. It is encouraging that this film is appreciated on such a level."