The Blu-ray release of The Church from Shameless Films opens with the following disclaimer:
The Shameless presentation of Michele Soavi’s THE CHURCH is complete and uncut. Made from a 2k transfer of the original negative, the film was restored respecting its original colour palette and the formidable craftsmanship of director Soavi and his team. Similarly, THE CHURCH is presented in is original Stereo sound as originally created by its makers.
Like prestigious wine kept in a dark cellar for a number of years, it will blow your mind with its original, unadulterated, qualities. Savour Soavi, back from the past…
This disclaimer is a message to the viewer letting them know they’re in for a special treat. And yes, The Church is a very special treat indeed.
The Church opens in Germany sometime during the middle ages with the Teutonic Order, basically knights for the Catholic church, destroying a village and murdering anyone and anything in their way. Their reasoning is that they believe the village is home to witches and obviously as defenders of the church they can’t just allow witches to go around living. As part of their ritual to make sure the witches stay dead forever they are required to build a church over what is essentially now a mass grave.
If horror movies have taught us anything it’s that building any type of structure over any sort of burial site is not ideal. The Church is furthering proof that this is ultimately a bad idea. Flash forward to the present, in the case of The Church the present is the 80’s, and the said church is beautiful building that is thriving place of worship. Also it seems to be a popular place to visit, I assume for historic reasons because it’s pretty old.
Evan (Tomas Arana), the church’s new librarian, is fiddling around when he comes across a crypt. Curious, he pokes around with it until it opens and well then the trouble begins. Once the crypt is broke open all the devil spirits buried deep within escape which in turns triggers the church’s doors to automatically lock. Evil spirits are no dummies. You lock everyone in and it makes it pretty easy to wreak some wicked havoc. And plenty of people get locked in this church – school kids on a field trip, church employees including a painter and a newly wed couple using the historic church as the background for some wedding pictures. The only way to defeat these evil spirits is to destroy the church, naturally.
If you’re a fan of Italian horror, particularly the 80’s variety, you know what to expect from The Church. There’s some semblance of a plot, but it’s not all that in-depth and honestly doesn’t matter. You just need a reason for demon-like creatures and that’s very much presents. There’s a bunch of characters but none of them are really developed or matter. You just need victims for said demon-like creatures, check. And if at all possibly you want to keep it all in a confined space like oh I don’t know, a church. That makes it much easier for our demon-like creatures to get our would-be victims. The Church has all these things!
Oh and you need a really rad score, preferably from Goblin or members of Goblin. Guess who dose the music for The Church? Goblin! With some assistance from Keith Emerson and Philip Glass. Everything you need for an awesome Italian party movie is present and accounted for!
And of course you need gore and practical effects. The Church comes with plenty of those as well! Including a demon that has sex with someone. Talk about evil!
The Church was intended to be a sequel to Lamberto Bava’s Demons films, but it eventually spun off into its own thing. At the end of the day though this really is just another Demons film. The plot and setup is basically the same as both those movies and the script was even written by Dario Argento. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, however. I have no problem with this same basic idea being used in different settings. Makes for a fun party movie every time out!
Having The Church available on Blu-ray is awesome. Soavi doesn’t get as much love as some of the other Italian horror legends but he more than holds his own, so the more of his work readily available, the better. And the Blu-ray looks amazing. The new 2k transfer using the original negatives looks great, highlighting the wonderful color used throughout the movie. And best of all this is the longest version of The Church available anywhere, full restored to Soavi’s original vision.
On the special features side there isn’t a whole lot but what’s there is pretty great. There’s a trailer reel featuring trailers for a bunch of titles Shameless has released over the years (hopefully more of which will be getting Blu-ray releases) and then there’s a brand-new interview with Soavi. The interview is great and Soavi kind speaks on the film and the process behind it. The best part is when he’s talking about Asia Argento and how he would ask her to do certain things and she would question him argue it didn’t make sense for her character. She was about 14 when she filmed The Church so the idea that she was questioning the director is fascinating to me. Of course she grew up around filmmaking and likely has known Soavi her entire life so she probably didn’t even see it as questioning the man in charger. Either way it’s interesting!
The Shameless Films Blu-ray release of The Church is a must-own in my opinion. There’s a reason it was one of my top releases in 2016. It is region B so if you’re in the US you’ll need a region free player. If you don’t have a region free player yet this is one of the releases that makes getting a region free player worth it.
The Church is now available on region B Blu-ray from Shameless Films.