Last month Scorpion Releasing, in partnership with Doppelganger Releasing, put out a pair of Italian horror gems on Blu-ray from director Michele Soavi, and it's a great time to rediscover this filmmaker and the early work that led to one of the greatest horror films of the '90s, Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man).
Before partnering up with Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, and Anna Falchi to create that supremely romantic horror nightmare, Soavi worked as an assistant director to Dario Argento in the early '80s on films like Phenomena and later on Lamberto Bava's Demons. These jobs led to his first feature film as a director, Stagefright, which remains a classic of '80s Italian horror. Less well known are the two films that followed, The Sect and The Church, both of which are ripe for rediscovery and further explore the director's dark imagination in a beautifully gruesome way.
We took a look at the discs and you can find our thoughts below
Knights Templar, winged demon sex, numerous impalings, and a young and super creepy Asia Argento populate Michele Soavi’s blasphemous 1989 horror film, The Church.
When religious warriors come upon a clan of Satan worshippers in the woods at the height of the Plague, they destroy the blasphemers and decide to build a church on top of their remains to consecrate the grounds for all eternity and lock their evil within the earth. It doesn’t work.
Centuries later the church, now a magnet for tourists, is ground zero for Satan’s rebirth and – coincidentally – a major fashion shoot featuring some of the most voluminous wedding dresses I’ve ever seen. One by one the attendees of the church, both clergy and laypeople, begin to get knocked off by a demonic presence intent upon reclaiming the tainted grounds and they are dispatched in increasing gruesome and visually stunning ways.
The first hour or so of set up is a bit all over the place, but by the time Satan and his minions have their big public unveiling, things get really fun and the last thirty of forty minutes is an orgy of impeccably designed demonic violence that is well worth the journey. Soavi draws very literal inspiration from fantasy art across the ages, everything from Hieronymous Bosch to Boris Vallejo, and his team implements these references beautiful in one violent tableau after another. The Church is a must see for fans of ‘80s Italian horrors like Demons.
Scorpion/Doppelganger tackle the first HD release of The Church in the US and definitely improve upon the previously available Blu-ray releases in other markets. The image is absolutely gorgeous. Detail is stunning, and the color and contrast are also beautiful. No complaints here. The DTS-HD MA Stereo audio track supports the effects, music, and dialogue well with no significant damage to report. An excellent A/V presentation.
We get a pair of new interviews with Soavi and Asia Argento as supplemental features on the disc and both are very informative and insightful pieces. Soavi talks about the pre-production of the film, including the story of the soundtrack which has contributions from members of Goblin and Keith Emerson, and other fun stories. Argento’s contributions are interesting because she was very young during the production of the film, and so hers was a child’s view, and so quite unique. She seemed to have enjoyed the making of the film and the trip to Budapest for filming and she is, as always, quite engaging.
The Church is a film that definitely deserves rediscovery, moreso than The Sect, and there’s no better way to do that than this new Blu-ray release.