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La Chiesa

The Curch

Italy 1988
produced by
Dario Argento, Mario Cecchi Gori, Vittorio Cecchi Gori
directed by Michele Soavi
starring Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana, Feodor Chaliapin jr, Barbara Cupisti, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Asia Argento, Roberto Caruso, Roberto Corbiletto
screenplay by Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, Michele Soavi, Dardano Sacchetti, Lamberto Bava

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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witches coven was slaughtered & buried by the Knights of the Black Cross, a cathedral built on their tomb. In 1988 however, a nosy librarian (Tomas Arana) & a female restorer (Barbara Cupisti) are trying to uncover the secret of the cathedral ... not such a good idea, as they soon find out. Because soon, Arana is possessed by some demon & attacks first Cupisti, later a young Asia Argento as the daughter of the sacristan (Roberto Corbiletto). And of course, anyone scratched by Arana turns into a demon himself. Soon of course, the cathedral is swarming with demons, while an ancient mechanism is set into motion to seal it from the outside world, thus disabling the demons from getting out ... for the humans inside it's a deathtrap of course - tough luck. So some rather horrible scenes follow until priest Hugh Quarshie finds the one spot in the whole cathedral to touch to make the whole building collapse & burying the demons below, another failsafe built in by the architect back then. Only Asia does survive the ordeal.

 

Storywise, this may sound like another part of the Demoni-series (which La Chiesa was once intended to be), stylistically though, it's far above these little chillers, director Soavi being very capable ofaesthetically combining the gothic setting of the cathedral with his rather gory killings to great effect, having what you might call an eye for the good picture. Also, some of the horror sequences are really innovative & imaginative, e.g. the sacristan killing himself with a pneumatic drill, or a girl hanging down a hole, only to be hit by the subway below, ..., these scenes also very competently made. Apart from that, the movie has precious little to offer, though, all the characterizations being very flat, only rarely rising above onedimensional parody, with no central character to identify with: Arana & Cupisti as librarian & restorer are offered as leads in the beginning, only to vanish from the proceedings pretty early in the film, Priest Hugh Quarshie, who saves the day in the end, has nothing much to do until then, being little more than an extra, & Asia Argento, the sole survivor of the ordeal, is not even in the cathedral during most of it. Also, the reaction of all the participants in the horrific proceedings leaves a lot to be desired, them seeing each other die like flies but never seem to lose their good humour (which would probably be a good thing in reality, but doesn't work at all in a horror-flick). So what is left is all style but no substance, which at least hints at that there's something better (Dellamorte Dellamore) to come from Soavi.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD