Ode to VHS: The Church

Who could possibly forget this mind-bending video box with perhaps one of the strangest visions I’ve ever seen in a horror film. This cover art had me sold at the age of 14 and I never regretted my discovery. I do however, have a hard time attempting to explain what exactly this “thing” is corrupting my mind. I guess you can call it a muddy blob of naked bodies. The Church will always have a special place in my heart because for some odd reason I am obsessed with demonic images dealing with religion and the film has many of those. SUCCESS!

Originally, The Church was suppose to be the third installment to the Demons franchise until the director changed his mind in hopes to make something completely different. The Church has absolutely nothing to do with the series and I am glad that it stands alone. The Spanish title for the film was “El Engendro del doable” which means “The Fetus of the Devil.”  Not sure how that fits with the story but the plot is a mess and it’s all over the place, I am not quite sure what to think of it as a whole.  In medieval times, witches and devil worshipers were believed to be inhabiting a small village. Knights belonging to a religious freak crusade had no tolerance for this sort of behavior and went on a rampage killing everyone, even babies. *frownie face* The accusations begin with a young girl who apparently has the mark of the devil on the bottom of her foot. Her face is crushed with the leaders hands before massacring the rest of the village. All of the so-called “witches” are throw into a mass grave where a church is eventually built right on top. It’s scary because we are still dealing with religious fanatics like these today who actually believe witch craft is real. Makes for a good movie though.

Now the film has jumped to the 80s where the church is still standing strong. A new librarian is hired to organize the collection of books and oops, he unleashes the evil and becomes possessed by a big scary demon. Eventually, several tourists and children are trapped inside of the church so that the evil cannot escape. Asia Argento, who lives in the church with her parents, is aware of a secret passage and she comes and goes as she pleases. Her and the token black guy are the only chance of survival. At the beginning of the film we see that one of the victims in the wicked village is the little girl’s long lost twin but this is never fully explained so I’m not sure what to think of it. There are so many details to include but I am just giving you the basics.

You will enjoy the cinematography and production value as they help set the vibe for a fantasy, goth-like feature and supernatural beauty that leads us into a stylish journey to hell. I cannot even count all the gorgeous shots Soavi seems to capture. For those who appreciate fine visuals, I highly recommend this magnificent piece of art.  The film also delivers an amazing score by previous members of Goblin and it’s one of my personal favorites. As usual, they give us dark, dream-like tunes that sets the stage for the film. The make-up effects do not disappoint. Gore fans will be pleased with this entry as I suspected. Some argue that they’re “too fake” but I strongly disagree here. Usually when one brings up that argument, I have to remind them that it’s only a movie and it’s all fake. Sometimes I think Italian film makers have bigger balls than American film makers for pulling all of this crap off.  Some of the more memorable moments have to be the woman raped by the goat man devil looking “thing” and that miniature tower of naked bodies that rise out of the mass grave. If that’s what you call…. whatever… the hell that thing was. I also enjoyed the tribute to Peruvian fantasy artist Boris Vallejo. See below.

The only downside to the film is the dubbing. This is why I cannot bare to watch a foreign film dubbed. It’s laughable and distracting. I enjoy listening to the tones of their voices along with their facial expressions, especially when gazing upon Asian cinema. However, so many people have a problem reading subtitles. It’s a mystery to me why so many seem to be disappointed in Michael Soavi for this film. It gets its fair share of, “This is a disappointment compared to his work in Dellamorte Dellamore.” While I do agree that Cemetery Man is his best work, I feel The Church is underrated and doesn’t get the praise it deserves. If you can get past the outrageous plot and focus on the stunning visuals and compelling dialogue, it’s quite enjoyable.

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