Film Review: The Church (1989)

Also known as: La chiesa (Italy), Cathedral of Demons, Demon Cathedral
Release Date: March 10th, 1989 (Rome premiere)
Directed by: Michele Soavi
Written by: Dario Argento, Michele Soavi, Franco Ferrini, Dardano Sacchetti, Lamberto Bava, Fabrizio Bava
Based on: The Treasure of Abbot Thomas by M.R. James
Music by: Keith Emerson, Philip Glass, Goblin, Fabio Pignatelli
Cast: Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana, Barbara Cupisti, Asia Argento, Giovanni Lombardo Radice

ADC Films, Cecchi Gori Group Tiger Cinematografica, Reteitalia, Cecchi Gori Distribuzione, 110 Minutes

la_chiesaReview:

There are a lot of quasi-sequels to Laberto Bava and Dario Argento’s Demons and Demons 2The Church is the one film, that is considered to be the true third part of the film series.

That being said, other than people being trapped somewhere, dealing with demons, The Church really doesn’t feel like it is Demons 3. It is its own movie, the tone is different, the demons are different and it has a much slower pace than those “balls to the wall” Demons films. It also has a lot of gore and disturbing imagery but it isn’t nearly as gross as Demons and Demons 2.

If I am to compare it to the other two, which I have to, it is the weakest in the series.

To start, the film is really slow. If you are accustomed to the pace of the two movies before it, you will be left wondering when the hell the shit will finally hit the fan. The shit never really hits the fan, though. Yes, there are intense moments sprinkled in and the finale is totally bizarre but it doesn’t play like a Demons film. In fact, it feels a lot closer to John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness. That being said, Carpenter’s film is far superior to The Church and much better paced.

I enjoyed Asia Argento in this. I also really liked the heroic priest. Everyone else just felt kind of flat.

I also liked the opening sequence with the German knights destroying a village in an effort to eliminate witchcraft. Actually, the people were just sick but hey, that’s religion in the dark ages… or now, really.

The Church is worth a watch if you are a completist and you liked the Demons films. However, it really isn’t a continuation of those movies. It is a decent late 80s Italian horror picture but I doubt I would ever watch it again unless I felt compelled to show it to another fan of the series.

Rating: 5.25/10

Film Review: Demons 2 (1986)

Also known as: Dèmoni 2 (Italy)
Release Date: October 9th, 1986 (Italy)
Directed by: Lamberto Bava
Written by: Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Franco Ferrini, Dardano Sacchetti
Music by: Simon Boswell
Cast: David Knight, Nancy Brilli, Coralina Cataldi Tassoni, Asia Argento, Dario Casalini

DACFILM Rome, Titanus Distribuzione, 91 Minutes

demons_2Review:

A year after Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento collaborated and brought us Demons, we got its awesome sequel. This is also the only sequel, of the many, that is a true continuation of the events of the first installment.

I hadn’t seen this movie until just recently. It was hard for me to get a hold of, back in the day. The original was sort of a cult film but I was lucky to have access to it at one of the video stores I used to frequent as a teen.

It is hard to say, as the original movie was so good, but I think I actually prefer Demons 2 to its predecessor. It is more fun and still just as gruesome and insane. Plus, it benefits from a soundtrack that boasts great songs from The Smiths, Peter Murphy, The Cult, Art of Noise and other edgy 80s artists.

Demons 2 is actually more surreal than Demons. The scene where the demon literally comes through the television set is fantastic. I feel like it was obviously inspired by Videodrome and the visual effects were similar. It was a very cool way to start the mayhem in this movie though.

While the movie theater set from the original was a great idea, Demons 2 takes place in an apartment building. It is still a confined film but there are more options with the apartment building setting that allow this film to step outside of the box a bit more. Plus the parking garage scenes feel more wide open, even though the soon-to-be victims of the demon army still can’t escape the locked down fortress.

I really love the inclusion of the gym and the bodybuilders, who all try to buck up and fight back. At least they try and their sequences are ludicrous in the best way possible.

You also get a freaky little kid demon, as well as some weird demon monster that emerges from the child host like the xenomorph from Alien.

Demons 2 is a fantastic and lovably insane ride. It is non-stop once it gets going. I just wish that Bava and Argento would have kept the narrative of the first two films going in other sequels.

Out of all the sequels, the only one that is officially a follow-up is The Church (or La chiesa in Italy). It was not directed by Lamberto Bava but it was produced by Dario Argento. I will review that one, when and if I can find a good copy of it.

Rating: 9/10

Film Review: Demons (1985)

Also known as: Dèmoni (Italy)
Release Date: October 4th, 1985 (Italy)
Directed by: Lamberto Bava
Written by: Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Franco Ferrini, Dardano Sacchetti
Music by: Claudio Simonetti
Cast: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Michele Soavi

DACFILM Rome, 88 Minutes

demonsReview:

Demons is an Italian horror film that was co-written and produced by Dario Argento. It was directed by Lamberto Bava, who is the son of legendary Italian horror director Mario Bava.

Released in 1985, it came out during a slew of great horror flicks. The genre was at an all-time high and the Italians were just as capable of showcasing dread and horror, as their American counterparts.

This film is creepy as hell and it still brings me back to that place I was when I saw it for the first time when I was certainly much too young to handle it.

It is intense, borderline gross – at times, visually mesmerizing and well executed. It is a little known masterpiece that probably deserves more than just cult recognition.

It carries a similar vibe to the films Argento directed around that time but Bava’s influence led to more insanity, more action and many more monsters.

The majority of the film takes place in a movie theater, which I am sure was effective for those seeing this film in the theater when it first came out. It would probably make me uneasy watching it in a theater now, to be honest.

The special effects are practical and top notch for a budget restricted foreign 80s film. With that, there is something more organic, natural and terrifying when seeing these zombie-like demons roaming through the dark theater with their glowing eyes than if some modern filmmaker tried to recreate those scenes with CGI.

Even at their cheesiest, practical effects still bring a level of realism that CGI can’t tackle and this film is a perfect example of that.

Also, the music is superb.

Demons is an interesting and unique horror film. It is also one of the best zombie-style movies ever made, even though they are demons as opposed to traditional zombies. Truthfully, the demon twist adds a very real sense of terror that you don’t get from regular zombies.

I feel like the visual style and the demons themselves went on to influence a slew of pictures after this. Not to mention the seven loose sequels this movie spawned.

If you are looking for something different to indulge in, this may be your flick.

Rating: 8/10