The Church 4K Review (Severin)
The Church (aKa La chiesa, El Engendro Del Diablo, Demons 3, Cathedral of Demons, and Demon Cathedral) is a 1989 Italian horror film directed by Michele Soavi (Stage Fright, The Sect, and Cemetery Man). It was produced and co-written by Italian horror legend Dario Argento (Opera, Suspiria, Two Evil Eyes, Demons, The Cat’ O Nine Tails, and 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, and 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 and 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” and he wanted The Church to be more sophisticated compared those horror films!!!!This caused various re-writes and changes to the original script to distance itself from being another sequel. This explains why this film has 7 different writers which include director Michele Soavi, producer Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava (The Ogre, Macabre, Shock, and Devil Fish), Dardano Sacchetti (A Blade in the Dark, Manhattan Baby, and The House by the Cemetery), Fabrizio Bava, Franco Ferrini (Phenomena and Once Upon a Time in America), and Nick Alexander (Savage Zone). The film is loosely based on the short story The Treasure of Abbot Thomas from M.R. James. It still ended up being re-titled that in different locations all over the world and 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 and 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, and Goblin. It had a wide theatrical release in Italy, Japan, and 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 and slaughter the group of women. They bury them in a mass grave and build a church over them to imprison the demon in that pit forever. Evan (played by: Tomas Arana from The Sect and The Bourne Supremacy) is the new librarian and 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, Dark Glasses, Mother of Tears, B Monkey, Trauma, The Stendhal Syndrome, and Demons 2), the the flirtatious Lisa (played by: Barbara Cupisti from StageFright, Opera, and The New York Ripper), and an angry Bishop (played by: Feodor Chaliapin from The Name of the Rose, Moonstruck, and Catacombs). Lisa finds an ancient document and 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 and 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 and The Monster). Something is very wrong with Evan! Lisa starts hearing and seeing things outside. She calls the police and 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 and unconformable around Lotte. Multiple visitors are inside the church including a school tour, an old couple, two young lovers, and a bridal model with her crew. Hermann confesses to Father Gus (played by: Hugh Quarshie from Highlander, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, The Dogs of War, Red Sparrow, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and 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, Cannibal Ferox, City of the Living Dead, House on the Edge of the Park, and The Sect) what happened and tells him to call law enforcement..They are locked inside the cathedral of evil with no escape! Everyone starts losing their minds and starts doing unexpected things. The church is consuming every soul that walks in. Lotte informs Gus about the backstory and curse of this place.In a chaotic muddy plus 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 and it leaves you 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 definitely worth the wait. Soavi’s beautiful and nightmarish visuals with crafty camera work make up for that anticipation. It stands out from other horror movies that came out around that same time. The musical score and wild practical special fx really elevated the entire overall production. It had a very solid cast with more than a few familiar faces that includes Asia Argento, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Tomas Arana, Barbara Cupisti, and Hugh Quarshie. The finale pays for all patience with the slower start of The Church, you really end up appreciating the build up to it after experiencing the finale product. It plays out like a legit prequel to Demons despite it’s title change so it fits. I’ve always been a big fan of this one when it comes to earlier Italian horror, it has never looked better than this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Severin Films! This 2160p (1.85:1) transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 is a massive improvement over the old Anchor Bay DVD and Scorpion Releasing Blu Ray which I own plus it’s much better than any of the other recent overseas home video releases of The Church. All the colors pop out on the screen especially when it comes to cinematography, production design, special fx, and locations. The visuals and production value are top notch here when it comes to early Italian cinema. It has a few different audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and Italian: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 on the UHD. 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, and Glass score is amazing which makes it even cooler that this awesome set includes a CD of the soundtrack for this, the score shines on this 4K when it comes to the sound. All of the dialogue is crystal clear, the madness is elevated, and that excellent music has a killer boost to it. So not only does the picture on this home video release from Severin blow away the past ones, the audio is a huge upgrade compared to the past!!!!Let’s discuss the special features from Severin Films! “The Mystery Of The Cathedrals” is an almost 20 minute interview with director Michele Soavi. He discusses working with the legendary Italian filmmaker Argento. He goes over the production which includes the set, plot, fx, and the cast for The Church. “Alchemical Possession” is an almost 13 minute interview with producer Dario Argento. He chats about working with Soavi and having concerns about his lack of experience at the time during the film. He says that his friendship with Keith Emerson basically ended because of this film because they barely used any of the music that he made for it because it didn’t fit, He brings up becoming good friends fast with the director, the locations, working with his daughter, the overall production, and it’s success. “The Eleventh Commandment” is an interview with co-screenwriter Franco Ferrini. He talks about writing this feature, working with Argento, and the changes on it. He chats about it being originally made for Bava to direct as a Demons sequel. “The Ghostwriter” is an almost 19 minute interview with co-screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti. He chats about he signed legal papers and he wasn’t aloud to speak about this production at the time for his ghost writing work. He chats about the Demons success, He discusses how this became The Church rather than just another Demons movie. He brings up working with Argento. “Lotte” is an almost 9 minute interview with actress Asia Argento. She chats about where it was shot and how it was put together. She mentions Soavi was a family friend so he was easy to work with. She shares some memories from The Church in this. “Here Comes The Bride” is an almost 11 minute interview with actress Antonella Vitale. She discusses how she was cast, her character, location, Soavi, and working with the other actors. “A Demon Named Evan” is an almost 26 minute interview with actor Tomas Arana. He chats about this being the first time that he was playing a lead in a feature film. He brings up how his career was going at the time of this production. He goes over his experience with Soavi and the cast. He says that Argento wasn’t on the set that much during the shoot. He covers all kinds of stuff here about the movie. “Father Giovanni” is a little over 14 minute interview with actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice. He discusses how he got the part in this. He goes over working and having a friendship with Soavi. He says that he was directing plays at the time so that’s why he only has a cameo here. He brings up his experience with Argento. He shares some memories about the cast. “Monsters And Demons” is an almost 20 minute interview with special FX artist Sergio Stivaletti. He chats about this film happened for him. He talks about his connection to the other Demons movies. He brings up working with Soavi and goes into detail about some of the fx used in The Church. “Holy Ground” is an almost 10 minute interview with make-up artist Franco Casagni. He discusses how he got his start. He brings up how he met Argento and how he got this gig. He shares his memories working with the cast and crew. “Building The Church” is an almost 21 minute interview with set designer Antonello Geleng. This is an interesting little inside look into the production design for this Italian horror flick. He goes over his work in this in great detail. “The Right-Hand Man” is an almost 17 minute interview with assistant director Claudio Lattanzi. He goes over his experience working with director Soavi and producer Argento on The Church. He brings up Argento’s influence on the project. He chats about some of the issues making this one and a variety of other stories about it here. “Return To The Land Of The Demons” is an almost 6 minute interview with author Alan Jones. He goes over the working relationship with Soavi and Argento. He chats about this was originally Demons 3. He brings up the cast and many other subjects about the production. It has a “Trailer”. This Church 4K is loaded with extras, Severin wasn’t playing around with the special features on here. These are all located on their own blu ray. 7 of the interviews were ported over from the previous limited edition release from Ronin Flix and Scorpion Releasing. Everything else is brand new and exclusive to this set. Just a warning, most of the extras are in Italian with English subtitles. It also comes with a slipcover, a 40 page booklet, a blu ray, and a CD of the soundtrack. This is one of the best home video releases of last year. It’s exclusively available at the Severin site right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!