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Overall Rating

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Average: 22.22%
Pretty Bad66.67%
Total Crap: 11.11%

1 review, 3 user ratings

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Church, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"10% Splatter, 90% Blather"
2 stars

I grew up on American horror flicks, and as I got a little older people started raving and ranting about how I needed to expand my horizons and Ďdiscoverí the wonder that is Italian Horror Cinema (otherwise known as giallo). Well, the years have passed and Iíve seen my share of Lamberto Bava, Lucio Fulci, and Dario Argento offerings. Aside from a few notable exceptions... letís just say Iím not a fan of the Italian style of cinematic mayhem. Call me the child of a base culture if you will, but I like more out of my gore flicks than a few well-placed blood splatters wedged into 102 minutes of poorly-dubbed YAP!

I digress. Every movie is a new experience, and I gladly offered my services when The Church hit the DVD scene. Perhaps the fact that it's a more recent flick (1989) would help me to enjoy it, I thought, although that logic is kind of ridiculous. Despite the arguments of a few friends whoíd already seen this one (arguments like "Dude, it sucks"), I was full of hope. Popped the disc in, hit play, boom - a cool prologue in which a platoon of evil knights wipe out an entire village of suspected heretics and demons! All very grim and gothic and a potentially delicious set-up for what Iíd hoped would be a fun zombie flick.

Then the movie switches to present dayÖand the wheels come off. I donít know what YOU generally look for in a horror flick, but unless itís "talking and lots of it" Iíd stay far away from this one. A handsome production design and a few creepy lighting gimmicks may seem like the bright spots, yet all they do is call attention to the fact that just about everything else in the movie... kinda stinks.

The plot is easy-to-follow and somewhat confusing at the same time; we can plainly see that a massive church has been erected over the accursed villagersí mass grave, and itís only logical for any horror flick worth its salt to have some unwitting dolt wander into the crypt and accidentally awaken the living dead. This indeed does happen, and early on in the film, I might add. Then... nothing.

Characters yammer ponderously about the dangers of this sacred statue and that unholy doo-hickey; the grumpy monsignor wanders about the windy hallways, always with his nose stuck in some grimy parchment and muttering about spirits this or curses that; there are a few junior priests, librarians, handymen, and just plain olí churchgoers that pop in from time to time, speak words, and then leave. A few get killed; not enough.

The Church is a movie that holds its load up until the one-hour, twenty-minute mark, and by the time the carnage shows up, youíll be too bored to care. Plus thereís not nearly enough of a gore-soaked payoff, particularly considering how long you waited for the red stuff. My apologies to those who have an adoration for the Italian Horror Flick, but I really gave this one a fair shot. Outright boredom knows no cultural boundaries.

A few interesting tidbits for the movie freaks: Originally intended to be the third entry in the Demons series, this flick underwent a name change - most likely because there arenít really any demons at all in this flick, but (aha!) there IS a church! Also, to those of you currently salivating over Italian hottie Asia Argento in XXX, this gothic yawnfest features her at about age 14... sneaking out of the church to drink, smoke, and dance at night clubs. (Viva Italia!)

In other familiar faces news, Father Gus (our stoic hero) is played by Hugh Quarshie, whom Star Wars freaks will undoubtedly recogninze as the equally stoic Captain Panaka. Lastly, this one is generally considered a Dario Argento movie, when in fact he only co-produced and participated (a bit) in the screenwriting process. The actual director is Michele Soavi, who also brought us the much-wackier Cemetery Man.

Bottom Line: Amazing-looking church, a cool prologue, a few welcome splatter spots, and not much more. I bet even the hardcore giallo fans have a hard time getting behind this one.

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originally posted: 04/29/04 17:34:01
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User Comments

10/01/07 Simon Page Scott you are a stupid head - Giallo is not Italian 'Horror' 3 stars
4/30/04 tatum Sometimes great, often uninspired 3 stars
4/29/04 Jack Sommersby Soavi's execution is faulty, and the scares are in extremely short supply. 1 stars
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  02-Jul-1989 (R)



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