The Church (1989)

DVD Cover (Blue Underground)
Genres: Gothic Film, Horror, Religious Horror, Supernatural Horror
An old Gothic cathedral, built over a mass grave, develops strange powers which trap a number of people inside with ghosts from a 12th Century massacre seeking to resurrect an ancient demon from the bowels of the Earth. --IMDb
Michele Soavi Michele Soavi
Hugh Quarshie Hugh Quarshie
Tomas Arana Tomas Arana
Feodor Chaliapin Jr. Feodor Chaliapin Jr.
Barbara Cupisti Barbara Cupisti
Antonella Vitale Antonella Vitale

6.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Christopher
Added: February 02, 2005
During the times of medieval Europe, crusading knights destroy a small village who they believe are witches and devil worshipers. While leaving no survivors in the village, they take the corpses and make a mass grave. When the corpses begin coming back to live, the knights quickly bury them and build a church on top of it. Hundreds of years later, the church is still up and running. Evan is called in to categorize all the books the church's library has. On his first day he runs in to one of the painters, Lisa. After she points him in the direction of the library, he meets the Sacristan's young daughter, Lotte. Later on there is some work being done in the basement of the church. One of the men is using a jackhammer on the floor and the walls begin to crack open. The men are stopped by Lisa and tells them not to come back until further notice.

Lotte and her family live in the one of the church's many upstairs rooms. With her dad trying to keep her away from all the bad things in the world, he locks her in at night so she doesn't sneak out. But she manages to find a way out and does so nightly. This night she is finally caught by her father. He doesn't have much proof on her though so she manages to get away with it, this time. The next morning, Lisa is looking through the cracked walls in the basement and discovers an ancient parchment. When she shows it to Evan, he keeps it so he can try to translate it. He manages to do so that night and races back to the church. He discovers a large cross cemented in the floor and tries to remove a large symbol in the center of it. When he finally gets the symbol out, he finds that it leads to nothing but an endless black hole.

He puts his hand on the rest of the cross and it falls in. He reaches in the darkness and pulls out an old bag. When he opens it, two set of demon hands begin choking him. It all seems to be just an illusion when he awakes and the cross is still in tact. Noises start to come from the stairs so he finds a place to hide. It's Lotte sneaking out again. Her father, Hermann, comes down shortly after to try and catch her doing it. Instead he finds Evan. Evan knocks him out with one punch and then runs off. He calls Lisa from a pay phone but doesn't manage to speak any as he starts sweating blood. Then he rips his heart out and holds it high above his head.

Back at Lisa's home, she gets attacked by a large beast type of demon. She calls the police before the beast demon can get to her. The phone is quickly ripped out of her hands though and with no other way to escape, she jumps through a window where the cops just begin to arrive. The next day at work, she tells Evan about what happened. Instead of trying to comfort her, he starts trying to have sex with her in the library. She pushes him away and runs to safer grounds. Lotte makes her way into the library later on in the day. Evan starts to lose it again and starts trying to rip her gut open with a large needle. When Lotte tells her father, he insists that she's lying and punishes her by washing her mouth out with soap. Lotte gets away and runs far away from the church.

Outside there's a photo shoot going on with a soon to be married couple. At the same time there is a school field trip going on in the church. The engaged couple asks Father Gus if it would be alright if they took a few pictures in the church. He allows them to do so and then heads to the confessional where Hermann is waiting for him. While Hermann is explaining himself, he punches a whole through the wicker part of the confessional and runs off. Ruining a shot for the engaged couple, as well as scratching a kid from the field trip. Hermann makes his way to the basement where he kills himself by putting a activated jackhammer through his stomach. The jackhammer begins to hammer into the large cross, which sets off a mechanism in the architectural design of the building.

Gears turn and the doors to the church are shut and sealed. No one is able to get in and no one is able to get out. Everyone begins to go insane except for Gus. Gus finds the bishop and is told what exactly is going on. Once the bishop tells Gus he knows how to get rid of it all, they begin battling over a page from a book that has the answers. The bishop falls off of the roof they are fighting on and is impaled on a point on one of the lower roofs. Gus retrieves pieces of the page and puts what little there is together. He finally figures out how to end it all. It's now up to him to save the church and its current guests.

An hour into the film is when all the odd stuff begins happening to the church and the people inside of it. There's some strange scenes before hand, but it's mostly things that build up the story, which definitely didn't need to be an hour long. A few of the strange things that occur once they get locked in would be like the bride touching a mirror and seeing she looks incredibly old. Then she begins to scratch off her face with her fingernails. Or when Lisa starts having sex with Evan and he turns into a demon. Which brings me to the demons. I'm not sure if the two shown are the same one, but they both look really awesome. All the special effects looked really good. Especially when Lisa starts ripping off her face.

There was also a couple of teenagers who tried to escape and ended up falling into a train subway. The girl of the two had the train smash her face into a million tiny pieces against the drivers window. That was by far the highlight of deaths in the film. There was two kids from the trip (one being the one who got scratched) and they seemed to be in love with each other. They were both really bad actors and the scene just seemed like it wasn't needed at all. Other than those two kids, the acting was good. The story was also good thanks to it not revolving around speeches as if you should believe in this god or that one. Or just making a big religious montage that most films as this one would revolve around.

Dario Argento had a nice hand in this film. He was one of the many writers and also one of three producers. It might just be that I'm a firm believer in anything that Dario Argento has to do with, but I don't think this film would have been as good had he not taken a part of it. Michele Soavi has done a nice share of entertaining films without the help of Dario. With such movies as Stage Fright, Dellamorte Dellamore, and so on. The Church is a very detailed film visually that will keep most any Italian horror fan peeled to the screen.

Final Conclusion: 8/10
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