Will these demons EVER stay buried??

I am not in the business of trying to hide my love for weirdo 70s and 80s Italian horror films, but I can’t say it’s something I get around to writing about much. But lo! The Final Girl film club (which I love and haven’t participated in nearly enough) this month speaks to said love, by focusing on The Church, a splendidly wack-a-doo creation from the minds of writer/director Michele Soavi and co-writer Dario Argento. This is one of those films where I feel like I sort of have no business liking it as much as I do, which is bizarrely one of my favorite ways to feel about a film.

We spend much of the action in quite an elaborate cathedral, which has purposefully (though inconveniently for its current users) been built on the mass grave of a 12th century village that may or may not have been full of demon worshipers. (Whether they were actually in league with the demons before the slaughter, or just caught up with them later when there was nothing else to do in the afterlife and the “good guys” [creepy priest-types ordering around knights wearing bucket helmets] had committed mass-murder, I’m not sure.)

If you’ve ever thought to yourself “but what happens to a head AFTER it’s been severed in a massacre?” this movie is here to tell you. They are not messing around in the opening massacre scene. Nor, once we cut to the present-day cathedral, are any of those characters messing around: the floppy-haired librarian and the sexy fresco-restorer know each other for I think around 12 hours before they are both in bed together and going around deciphering old parchments that SHOULD OBVIOUSLY BE LEFT ALONE. Librarian goes from zero to pulling-his-own-heart-out-of-his-chest-crazy pretty quickly after that, and soon all pagany hell is breaking loose in the church. The demons/ghosts sit tight until the perfect time to strike, which is when the church is full of:

–a bunch of models and photographers shooting wedding gowns
–a class full of 12-year-olds on a field trip
–a dysfunctional, verbally abusive, motorcycle-riding young couple
–a dysfunctional, verbally abusive senior citizen couple
–a variety of creepy priests, and one nice one (who gets dissed by the other priests for not speaking Latin, Mean Girls-style)
–probably some other freaks I am forgetting

The demon onslaught leads to an absolute symphony of is-this-real-or-am-I-hallucinating madness for the characters, and a little bit for the viewers as well. What has been a fairly straightforward narrative all of a sudden goes Full Crazytown. But it is awesome.

This movie is full of entertainingly manic camerawork, acting that hits the absolute sweet spot between good and cheesy, great music (Goblin at work again), and amazing images—my favorites being the moldering arms shooting out of a limp burlap bag to strangle he who dares look inside with his floppy hair, and a model whose elaborate dress gets caught in the closing cathedral doors, trapping her against them. I dig the combination 80s + gothic aesthetic.

This movie is streaming on Netflix and you should totally watch it! If you like this sort of thing. Which you should.


2 Responses to “Will these demons EVER stay buried??”

  1. 1 Final Girl January 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Glad you joined in! I already want to watch this one again for some reason. I love the way the church filled up at the last second with a Village People-style assortment of victims.

  2. 2 Emily January 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Horror films do not sit well with me, yet I am now hugely compelled to watch this. Thanks Brandi, for the inevitable awful dreams and my continued loss of naievete.

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