Wednesday, 8 March 2017

The Church

A friend passed me some contraband last week with a link to a very good English-dubbed youtube copy of Michele Soavi’s 1989 film The Church which I finally watched for the first time last night. The best stuff comes in the first half of the picture, the shots of ancient, arcane books, and academics exploring mysterious passageways in the bowls of the Gothic church evoke a pleasing MR Jamesesque atmosphere (strongly recalling James' story The Treasure of Abbot Thomas). But it’s all but squandered in the second half of the film which takes a radical and fatal tone shift to resemble something more akin to Demons but without the fun. Worse still, the two leads are largely relegated to the subs bench in favor of some ill-advised cut-outs whisked in to dress the gore set-pieces, while two potentially striking moments – the much publicized shot of a naked woman embraced by a winged demon, and a grotesque monument of slithering bodies are botched by some clunky mechanical effects. And yet, there are occasional flashes of brilliance that marks The Church as one of the more beguiling late-era Italian Horror films, largely due to Soavi’s strength as a visualist, (more than a few times I was reminded of The Keep), and there’s some particularly fine camerawork to savor - the opening introduction shot of the church is an especially impressive piece of choreography. Incidentally, the film features a purely synthesized version of Phillip Glass’ Floe by former Philip Glass Ensemble member Martin Goldray which to my ear sounds superior the original. This rare version of the piece can only be found on long deleted Italian and Japanese soundtrack editions, so the four appearances of Goldray’s arrangement in the film are much welcomed. As ever Youtube comes to the rescue yet again, the Goldray version can be heard here. Finally, the poster below, depicting a bloody pit of horror from The Church, is the work of good friend and designer-extraordinaire Jeremy Mincer of Silverferox fame. Additional posters for The Church posters (including the memorable image of the winged demon) can be found here and while you’re over there, check out his other excellent designs.

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