Still reeling from the slack-jawed snoozefest that was Survival Of The Dead I dejectedly plunged my hand into a pile of unsorted horror dvds safe in the firm belief that no matter what I ended up with I'd definitely seen worse. Clutched in my palsied grip was the Anchor Bay release of -
The Church (1989)
Director: Michele Soavi
Cast: Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana, Asia Argento, Barabara Cupisti, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, etc.
Late 80's Argento produced, Michele Soavi directed slice of Italian atmos-horror.
It all kicks off in medieval times with a Pythonesque band of Teutonic Knights (one of em looks like a reject from the new romantic wave) clopping around looking for some people to slaughter. Lucky for them here comes a stinky tramp, no wait, it's a priest with some intel on the location of a pagan sect ripe for killing so off they go. Brief bit of checking that the harmless looking hippies are indeed evil incarnate, cross burned into the foot of one of em, check, let's get beheading lads! General consensus seems to be that a church built over the mass graves will prevent the demonic hippies from coming back to life, any excuse to cover up an atrocious war crime really. Oh and there's a wicker-basket-masked little thing running about that turns out to be pre-pubescent pug faced little munter Asia Argento, put the mask back on her!
I'm not evil, really I'm not!
Cut to the present, look at that big old medieval church, oooh scary. Tomas Arana plays Evan, an incredibly boring librarian with an Indiana Jones complex and no sexual chemistry at all, especially with love interest Lisa (Barbara Cupisti) - he's come to catalogue the church's many ancient texts and awkwardly try and get into Lisa's pants.
Wait, what are we looking at again?
Asia Argento, confusingly, is still about as well, this time as Lotte the sacristan's daughter, often sneaking out at night in what I imagine is an attempt to get most of the city's male population locked up for statutory rape, she's only 14. We're also introduced to the church's holy trinity of priests; favourite genre victim Giovanni Lombardo Radice, cranky old bishop Feodor Chaliapin Jr. and (I shit you not) Holby City's very own Dr Ric Griffin (Hugh Quarshie) as Father Gus, he enjoys a spot of archery when he's not preaching to the perverted.
Asia. Not 14 in this picture.
Anyway before you know it Evan's found a hole....in the basement unfortunately for everyone. Aaaaand here comes the evil.
Cue Evan being strangled by hands sprouting forth from an old sack, but not really, and Evan pulling his heart out thru his stomach, but not really and other things apparently happening but not really - hallucinations it seems. A two minute scene in this section of the film tickled me pink - Lisa kneels uncomfortably on her bed messily eating jam sandwiches when she hears a noise outside. It's only an animatronic demonic (probably lesbionic) goat creature licking the window pane, likely craving some jam. It smashes it's way in, she legs it into the bathroom with her phone, calls the old bill and then without warning promptly does a spectacular header out a closed window landing without a scratch in her back garden where she is assailed terrifyingly by a tartan blanket and stumbles into the swiftest coppers in movie history - brilliant scene, should be put out as a short movie. Round about this time Evan's in his office bashing 6666666 out on his typewriter and sweating like a rapist when in walks Asia Argento, he tries, she legs it, I assume demonic possession will be his defence, the dirty bastard.
Back at the church Father Gus is having words with old codger priest, on the rooftop, in the pounding rain, in gale force wind, whoops there goes the old man over the side, "whhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyy" cries Gus, well duh! Turns out the church has a lockdown mechanism that's been put into action just in case the evil reawakened or something so the place is now locked down tighter than an otters pocket with an assortment of tourists inside (if this bit seems reminiscent of Demons that'll be because this flick was originally envisaged as Demons 3). The shit hits the fan at this point with a demonic piranha jumping out of the holy water, a green winged demon looking for love, the impalement of a speccy teacher, a bride's face melting off, an industrial accident involving a jackhammer, an OAP using her hubbies severed head to bash a bell and a woman being hit full in the face by an express train. Oh and the reappearance of goatman who finally gets lucky with Lisa.....on an altar.....while people watch. Unfortunately spoilsport Father Gus has figured out how to hit the sweetspot - the mechanism that will bring down the whole church to protect the outside world from eeeevil - and he promptly does so, putting an end to a real shitkicker of a soiree that I was just beginning to enjoy dammit!
Is it in yet?
With 8 credited writers and Argento (put my daughter in the film, now put my lover in the film!) reportedly breathing down Soavi's neck for most of the shoot it's shocking that this film isn't just a complete and total mess - it's actually fun and, for the first half at least, reasonably well made and atmospheric. And so very much better than Survival Of The Dead.....
So that's good night from me and good night from goatman.......
Hi ma, I'm in pictures!