The Church Blu Ray Review (Scorpion Releasing)
The Church (aKa La chiesa, aKa El Engendro Del Diablo, aKa Demons 3, aKa Cathedral of Demons, & aKa Demon Cathedral) is a 1989 Italian horror film directed by Michele Soavi (Stage Fright, The Sect, & Cemetery Man). It was produced & co-written by Italian horror legend Dario Argento (Opera, The Cat’ O Nine Tails, & The Bird with the Crystal Plumage). Soavi was an actor in several horror movies before he started directing. He was also an assistant/second unit director on Tenebrae, Phenomena, Demons, Opera, & many other Italian cult films. Soavi seemed to be the next master of Italian horror considering his amazing streak from 1987 to 1994. He decided to leave the genre & focus on directing made for TV movies. The Church was originally intended to be the third film in the highly popular Demons series. Soavi referred to the Demons franchise as “Pizza Schlock” & he wanted The Church to be more sophisticated.
This caused various re-writes & changes to the original script to distance itself from being another sequel. This explains why this film has 8 different writers which include director Michele Soavi, producer Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Dardano Sacchetti, Fabrizio Bava, Franco Ferrini, Nick Alexander, & M.R. James. The film is loosely based on the short story The Treasure of Abbot Thomas. It still ended up being re-titled that in different locations all over the world & home video releases but technically that’s not the official title. As a matter of fact, multiple producers tried to cash in on the success of the previous Demons films. So much to the point we have three entirely different productions with the same name in other countries. 1988’s The Ogre & 1991’s Black Demons are both called Demons 3 also. The score for the film is full of talent that includes Keith Emerson, Philip Glass, & Goblin. It had a wide theatrical release in Italy, Japan, & Spain. It only had a small limited theatrical run in the United States, it was mainly pushed as a home video release here.
It starts out during Medieval times, Teutonic Knights invade a coven of “supposed” witches. Not going on much evidence, they take things in their own hands & slaughter the group of women. They bury them in a mass grave & build a church over them to imprison the demon in that pit forever. Evan (played by: Tomas Arana from The Sect & The Bourne Supremacy) is the new librarian & shows up late on this first day at the church. He meets the curious Lotte (played by Asia Argento from XxX, Land of the Dead, & Demons 2), the the flirtatious Lisa (played by: Barbara Cupisti from StageFright, Opera, & The New York Ripper), & an angry Bishop (played by: Feodor Chaliapin from The Name of the Rose, Moonstruck, & Catacombs). Lisa finds an ancient document & gives it to Evan to decipher. Evan has to find the stone with seven eyes after figuring out the ancient document. Evan starts snooping around & investigates the church. He has visions of strangers attacking him, is it real or fantasy? He has a confrontation with Hermann (played by: Roberto Corbiletto from The Voice of the Moon & The Monster). Something is very wrong with Evan! Lisa starts hearing & seeing things outside. She calls the police & jumps through her window in fear of her life. The officers think she is crazy especially since she claimed to see a monster. Evan gets really creepy & unconformable around Lotte. Multiple visitors are inside the church including a school tour, an old couple, two young lovers, & a bridal model with her crew. Hermann confesses to Father Gus (played by: Hugh Quarshie from Highlander, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, & Nightbreed) about his possession. All hell breaks loose blood spills into the ground. Gus tells The Reverend (played by: Giovanni Lombardo Radice from The Omen, StageFright, & The Sect) what happened & tells him to call law enforcement..They are locked inside the cathedral of evil with no escape! Everyone starts losing their minds & starts doing unexpected things. The church is consuming every soul that walks in. Lotte informs Gus about the backstory & curse of this place.In a chaotic muddy & bizarre finale that stays on the mind it keeps everyone waiting for more!!!!
The Church is a slow burn type of film. It takes about 40 minutes for it to really kick in besides the GREAT opening that leaves you wanting more & curious about the outcome. You have to be a little patient with this feature but when the madness begins, I am telling you it’s worth the wait. Soavi’s beautiful & nightmarish visuals with crafty camera work make up for that anticipation. It stands out from other horror movies around that same time. The score & special effects really boosted the overall production. It had a solid cast with more than a few familiar faces that includes Asia Argento, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Tomas Arana, Barbara Cupisti, & Hugh Quarshie. The finale pays for all patience with the slower start of The Church, you appreciate the build up to it. I’ve always been a big fan of this one, it has never looked better than this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scorpion Releasing! This 1080p (1.67:1) transfer is a massive improvement over the old Anchor Bay DVD which I own plus it’s much better than any of the other recent home video releases of The Church. I reviewed all 3 Argento related blu rays from the Scorpion Releasing & Doppelganger Releasing partnership, this is is the best looking one out of those releases. All the colors pop out on the screen. The visuals & production value are top notch here. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio track 2.0 is solid. This English dub is the one that most American viewers are familiar with when it comes to The Church on home video. That Goblin, Emerson, & Glass score is amazing, it shines on this blu ray.
Let’s discuss the special features from Scorpion Releasing! “The Mystery of the Cathedrals”, a brand new almost 20 minute interview with writer/director Michele Soavi. He chats about his love for horror & what started his interest in the genre. He talks about working with the legendary Dario Argento. He brings up his experience on this production. “Lotte” is a n almost 9 minute interview with one of the stars Asia Argento. Her memory as good as others here since she was so young during the shoot. She chats about her experience on The Church & the talent involved in the project. She talks about working with Michele Soavi & feeling safe around him since they already knew each other for a long time. Last but not least you get trailers for The Church, The Sect, Sleepless, Opera, Etoile, & The Card Player. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out! Scorpion Releasing re-released a limited edition 2 disc version at Ron Flix with additional bonus material for die hard fans.