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DVD: Church, The / La Chiesa (1988)
Review Rating:   Standard  
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Anchor Bay 
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1 (NTSC)

February 19, 2002



Genre: Supernatural Horror  
Angry spirits prepare for demonic vengeance after being below the foundations of a Medieval church.  



Directed by:

Michele Soavi
Screenplay by: Dario Argento,  Franco Ferrini,  Michele Soavi
Music by: Keith Emerson, Fabio Pignatelli
Produced by: Dario Argento,  Mario Cecchi Gori,  Vittorio Cecchi Gori

Hugh Quarshie,  Tomas Arana,  Feodor Chaliapin,  Barbara Cupisti,  Antonella Vitale,  Giovanni Lombardo Radice,  Asia Argento,  Roberto Caruso,  Roberto Corbiletto,  Alina De Simone,  Olivia Cupisti,  Gianfranco De Grassi,  Claire Hardwick,  Lars Jorgensen,  John Karlsen,  Katherine Bell Marjorie,  Riccardo Minervini,  Enrico Osterman,  Micaela Pignatelli,  Patrizia Punzo

Film Length: 102 mins
Process/Ratio: 1.85 :1
Anamorphic DVD: Yes
Languages:   English (Dolby 5.1 EX),  English (Stereo)
Special Features :  

Michele Soavi Bio / Cast & Crew Bio / Theatrical trailer for "The Church" (1.85:1 Anamorphic)

Comments :

Similar to Dario Argento's screenplay for "Demons" (1985), "The Church" uses the same device of an evil presence trapping innocent folk in a building, and a few bystanders getting knocked off, as poor detainees become 'infected' with a demon's influence. It's an effective ploy that gives director/co-writer Michele Soavi plenty of shock moments -some pretty effective - and at least one obligatory throat piercing to remain true to Argento's usual macabre fetishism.

Though the 80s clothes, upswept hairdos, and soft focus photography date the film somewhat, Soavi's direction is quite assured, and he makes generous use of the film's locations. Limited in budget, the sets, lighting, and some elaborate set pieces give the film a very polished veneer, with the film's finale clearly making good use of the budget's last dollar.

Anchor Bay's DVD offers a nice print, and though the subtle colour scheme comes off well, scenes in the church catacombs have visible artifacting, making it pretty distracting. The Dolby 2.0 and 5.1 EX soundtracks are fairly conservative, and the basic sound mix consists of hokey dialogue dubbing, and standard sound effects. Though Keith Emerson and Goblin are credited as the film's composer, several music cuts are repeated ad nauseum throughout the second half, particularly Philip Glass' "Floe" and "Civil Wars."

Extras include a music-heavy trailer, and an informative Michele Soavi bio; though a bit reverential, Mark Wickum's notes are a nice introduction for horror fans curious about this less-prolific, but able horror director.

© 2002 Mark R. Hasan

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