THE CHURCH (1989) Reviews and overview

 

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‘In this unholy sanctuary you haven’t got a prayer…’

The Church is a 1989 Italian horror film directed by Michele Soavi (Dellamorte, DellamoreThe Sect; StageFright).

The film was produced by Dario Argento with Mario Cecchi Gori and Vittorio Cecchi Gori, and written by Argento, Soavi, Franco Ferrini, Dardano Sacchetti, Lamberto and Fabrizio Bava.

The soundtrack score comprises tracks composed by Keith Emerson, Philip Glass, Goblin and Fabio Pignatelli.

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The movie stars Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana, Barbara Cupisti, Asia Argento, Feodor Chaliapin, Jr. and Giovanni Lombardo Radice.

The Church was originally conceived as the third film in the Dèmoni series; however, director Michele Soavi insisted that the film stand-alone and not connected with the first two entries. In an interview, Soavi derisively referred to those films as “pizza schlock”, and expressed that he wanted The Church to be more sophisticated.

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Plot:

In medieval Germany, the Teutonic Knights massacre a village of supposed witches and build the titular structure over their dead bodies.

Present-day: an assorted group of tourists are visiting the church. When the seal of the crypt is inadvertently broken, the malevolent spirits of the villagers attack the tourists.

Father Gus (Hugh Quarshie) and Lotte (Asia Argento), the Sacristan’s daughter, must try to combat this evil force before it is unleashed upon the outside world…

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Reviews:

The Church is bursting with style and it just looks good, plain and simple. The score by Argento regulars Goblin, and progressive rock legend Keith Emerson (Inferno) is incredible, ’nuff said. There is plenty of the red stuff to satisfy the gore hound, and a couple of effectively creepy scares.” Monsters at Play

“The gore is great; the cheesy dubbed voices are lovely; the bad ’80s outfits… divine. But there are far too many slow patches in this film. You promise me gore? Give it to me. Demons and monsters? Let ’em loose.” DVD Verdict

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“Soavi’s talents as a director are such that he is able to make the film enjoyable purely by virtue of its look and atmosphere, managing to transcend its rather unimpressive origins as an instalment of the Demons saga.” Michael Mackenzie, The Digital Fix

“Not much happens for a substantial part of the film and when it does it is never particularly clear why it does. The first half sets Tomas Arana and Barbara Cupisiti up as a standard if rudimentary, romantic hero/heroine but when the church doors are locked, both characters almost completely vanish off-stage.” Moria

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Cast and characters:

Hugh Quarshie … Father Gus
Tomas Arana … Evan
Feodor Chaliapin Jr. … The Bishop (as Feodor Chaliapin)
Barbara Cupisti … Lisa
Antonella Vitale … Bridal Model
Giovanni Lombardo Radice … Reverend
Asia Argento … Lotte
Roberto Caruso … Freddie
Roberto Corbiletto … Hermann, the Sacristan
Alina De Simone … Lottie’s Mother
Olivia Cupisti … Mira
Gianfranco De Grassi … The Accuser
Claire Hardwick … Joanna
Lars Jorgenson … Bruno
John Karlsen … Heinrich
Katherine Bell Marjorie … Heinrich’s Wife
Riccardo Minervini … Schoolboy
Enrico Osterman … The Torturer
Micaela Pignatelli … Fashion shoot photographer
Patrizia Punzo … Miss Brückner
John Richardson … Architect
Matteo Rocchietta … Younger Schoolboy
Isabella Rocchietta … School girl (uncredited)
Michele Soavi … 1st Policeman at Lisa’s House (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Budapest, Hungary
Hamburg, Germany (exteriors only)
Elios Studios, Rome, Lazio, Italy
R.P.A. Studios, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Filming dates:

4th September 1988 to 19th November 1988

Technical details:

102 minutes | 98 minutes (‘R’-rated)
Eastmancolor
Aspect ratio: 1.66 : 1
Audio: Mono

Original title:

La chiesa “The Church”

Trailer:

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