DROP THE "THE", JUST CALL IT CHURCH - IT'S CLEANER
I had no idea I had Shudder on tv until a few days ago so I looked at the selection and found a title with a picture of a literal pile of naked muddy bodies that formed a face of a demon. I thought, cool and put on Dario Argento’s production of The Church. It begins with Teutonic knights in the twelve century on a holy crusade who massacre an entire village of people because they showed signs of the devil on their feet. They throw them in a mass grave and decide to build a church over it. That whole time it looked like a scene out of Monty Python’s Holy Grail. So they decided to bring in the dead. Ha. Sorry.
The plot moves forward to present day (1989 then) where the Bishop is holding mass while the Sacristan works the collection plate and his teenage daughter Lotte (played by Asia Argento) distracts herself with make up. Nearby, Lisa, the church restoration expert, meets the new librarian Evan who’s late and overall shitty employee on his first day. Evan, played by Tomas Arana (who is the most “that guy” you can get in Hollywood, he's played supporting roles in everything) becomes completely consumed by a piece of ancient writing Lisa finds that describes the history of the church as well as it's architect who is buried in the church. He learns about the Teutonic Knights, the religious holy war mass murderers, or as I like to call them, the knights of the Holy FAIL.
Evan decides to go to the basement of the church and finds an opening where a large cross was laid down after burying the dead. He opens it up and is immediately attacked by several of the dead which unleashes them into the church to roam around and kill anyone and everyone. And what good luck, a group of kids on a school field trip to the church witness their teacher being impaled by a possessed sacristan. If I could give out awards for best impalement it would be for the poor bishop who has gone mad with the hauntings and accidentally falls to his death on a conveniently placed spear.
The story climaxes to a whole lot of killing. As per movie rules, many of them are spoiled characters who had it coming! Demons do not do well with people complaining and shitty attitudes. Then there is the unforgettable demonic ritual with Lisa and her one time lover Evan who has now turned into a demon. They uh, consummate in front of all the dead and/or possessed and hundreds of lit candles. It makes for a great ending and honeymoon theme idea.
This movie was an unofficial sequel to Demons 1 and 2 but director Michele Soavi convinced his mentor, Dario Argento, that it was a good enough story as a stand alone. The gore and horror is spectacular (Evan holding his beating heart over his head is one) but sometimes my mind wandered and had to rewind a few times. But if you wanna see a biker chick’s face splattered on the front of a subway train because of this demon infested church, then this is the one for you.