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  • The Bearden of Knowledge

The Church

Dir. Michele Soavi (1989)

A group of people are trapped inside a cathedral where ghosts are attempting to summon a demon.

Today, we're gonna talk about some really decent Italian, Gothic horror. We're gonna review 1989s The Church.

The Church (or, as it's also known, Demons 3) is written by Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava and directed by Argento's protégé, Michele Soavi, who went on a few years from this one to direct the fantastic Cemetary Man. The film starts in Medieval times with Knight Templars killing a village full of supposed devil worshippers. And they do what one does when you kill a village full of devil worshippers: they throw them all into a mass grave and build a church on top of it. Medieval times, ammarite? We then jump ahead to the present day where no possible bad side effects could come from that decision.

This was actually a pretty cool movie. The production is great, the camerawork is fantastic, and the practical effects are also amazing. There's a particular demon goat towards the end that's straight nightmare fuel!

It also moves along fairly quickly. The story is also pretty decent, although it is a bit jumbled. We have Teutonic Knights as the inspiration for the Nazi Black Cross. The tables of law from the Ark of the Covenant buried under Gothic cathedrals. Papers, hundreds of years old, buried in the cathedrals walls. At first, it moves along like a Da Vinci Code clue hunt. They even make an Indiana Jones joke. My particular favorite artifact? The stone with 7 eyes! But wait! That's the artifact that somehow unlocks the demon, so we may wanna leave that one.

When the demon is unleashed, we have the typical "demons possess everyone, and everyone dies" thing. But there are some great kills here, too. Not as splatter gory as Demons 1 or 2, but some great gore nonetheless. I found a particular "wedding dress" kill pretty cool. You could tell Soavi was having fun making this one. The performances by all the actors were also very good. We have Tomas Aranas (Gladiator) as Evan, a librarian sent in to organize books and who accidentally releases demons. Barbara Cupisti (Stage Fright) as Lisa, Evan's girlfriend. Hugh Quarshie (Star Wars Episode 1) as Father Gus, one of only two people there NOT possessed by the demons. And a standout performance by a young Asia Argento (Trauma) as Lotte who is also free of the demons' influence.  There are some parts where Soavi makes it feel so surreal and dreamlike that it kinda pulls me out of it a little bit, but there's enough good stuff here to definitely warrant a viewing. And it's streaming on Shudder now! 


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