Archives for October 2011 | Varied Celluloid

Archive for October, 2011

Halloween Horrors #23: The Church

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 31 - 2011

And for our final review of the month, our good friend Prof. Aglaophotis contributes his take on the Michele Soavi horror classic The Church! He seems to thoroughly enjoy it, so give it a read by clicking on the poster art!

Although we did not get to meet the full 31 reviews that we did last year, this still turned out to be a decent Halloween Horrors celebration! We here at Varied Celluloid would like to thank everyone who hung in there despite all of the problems we have had this month, including a virus nearly destructing the website. Thankfully, that was fixed promptly and should not return. We sincerely hope all readers have a fantastic Halloween and hope that you will stick with us during our next movie celebration, December’s Kung Fu Christmas which is only a month away!

The Plot: Our story opens in Germany in the 1600’s where Teutonic knights are lead to a small village supposedly housing devil worshippers led by a carrier of demons influencing them. The knights quickly descend on the villagers, murdering men, women, children and animals left and right. Once the onslaught has finished, a Christian leader in charge of the knights orders all of the villagers, now all infected by an unleashed demonic force, to be buried. Their burial ground is sanctified by having a large gothic church constructed over the corpses thus sealing the demons along with the bodies.

A century passes and the church is a fully functional public cathedral. Because the church is so old, a young historian named Lisa (Barbra Cupisti) is working on restoring the ancient details of the church’s interior, while the church’s new librarian Evan (Tomas Arana) walks in and is slowly introduced to almost everyone residing there, including the rebellious young Lotte (Asia Argento). Evan soon gets involved in the secrets of the cathedral once Lisa finds a parchment hidden in the decrepit under halls of the church, telling of a secret sealed away in the deteriorating basement. After finding and opening the seal, Evan unleashes the contamination of dormant damnation and the church doors eventually close up, sealing a large number of civilians inside. It’s now up to Lotte and the diligent father Gus (Hugh Quarshie) to figure out what is going on, how to stop the demons in the church from leaving their confines and how to survive in the process.




Church, The

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 31 - 2011

Written by – Prof. Aglaophotis


The Church (1989)
Director: Michele Soavi
Writers: Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, M.R. James and Michele Soavi
Starring: Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana and Feodor Chaliapin Jr.



The Plot: Our story opens in Germany in the 1600’s where Teutonic knights are lead to a small village supposedly housing devil worshippers led by a carrier of demons influencing them. The knights quickly descend on the villagers, murdering men, women, children and animals left and right. Once the onslaught has finished, a Christian leader in charge of the knights orders all of the villagers, now all infected by an unleashed demonic force, to be buried. Their burial ground is sanctified by having a large gothic church constructed over the corpses thus sealing the demons along with the bodies.

A century passes and the church is a fully functional public cathedral. Because the church is so old, a young historian named Lisa (Barbra Cupisti) is working on restoring the ancient details of the church’s interior, while the church’s new librarian Evan (Tomas Arana) walks in and is slowly introduced to almost everyone residing there, including the rebellious young Lotte (Asia Argento). Evan soon gets involved in the secrets of the cathedral once Lisa finds a parchment hidden in the decrepit under halls of the church, telling of a secret sealed away in the deteriorating basement. After finding and opening the seal, Evan unleashes the contamination of dormant damnation and the church doors eventually close up, sealing a large number of civilians inside. It’s now up to Lotte and the diligent father Gus (Hugh Quarshie) to figure out what is going on, how to stop the demons in the church from leaving their confines and how to survive in the process.

The Review
I really wish visionary Michele Soavi would get back into film making. Like many Italian Horror movie directors, the guy is gifted at art direction, talented behind the camera and was never afraid to throw in some shocking gore effects. Though The Church is more an Art House film, chock full of metaphors and unique cinematography, it’s still a neat horror film to behold even with its succinct gory-moments and occasionally odd continuity problems.

The movie has a lot of build-up to it. After the first frenetic opening, we get a long introduction to our main characters in several unique ways. The characters of Evan and Lisa are introduced in pretty straight forward scenes, but Father Gus’ introduction as a character is very poetic and is completely visual: it’s an interesting premonitory instance and as strange as the scene is, it manages to say something about the character and what he’s lead to do. It’s funny, because for most of film there’s no real central protagonist or villain in the movie, and despite having so many primary characters with their own little traits, a fair amount of them were simply background characters.

Much of the film carries Michele Soavi’s direction on its shoulders; every little scene is filmed in such a way that it captures a very particular detail of the setting or facial expression. Even the tightest zoom on the smallest object is brought to great importance in the context of the story. Needless to say, the cinematography is top notch here.


The characters themselves though are pretty well acted. For the first part of the movie Tomas Arana is just a little stiff and ambiguous for the part (which would make a decent scientist role), but he makes up for it and shows some great range after about forty minutes into the movie. Hugh Quarshie is surprisingly good as the movie’s belated protagonist, and shows a lot of strength and conviction in the part. Asia Argento wasn’t too bad in it either as she plays a fun, rebellious little character, though she’s not given as emotional a role as she was in Trauma. Barabra Cupisti was pretty cool in the movie, too; her later scenes where she is stuck in the church are somewhat otherworldly and dreamlike and she handles the entranced motions very well.

I think the only thing that bugs me about any character is Evan’s sudden and irrational jump into antagonism. I’m not too bothered by his whole “I don’t want to look at old books for the rest of my life” excuse (a complaint I’ve heard before in movie discussions), but he finds the secret behind the parchment all in the same night he hooks up with Barbara Cupisti! If I had to choose between a vague treasure hunt or Barbara Cupisti, I’d choose the latter in a heart beat!!

The soundtrack was composed by The Goblins, Philip Glass and Keith Emerson (Tarkus!!) and it gives The Church its ghostly, overpowering personality. With fantastic synth notes and organ keys, the soundtrack will grab you right from the opening credits sequence. The music notes carry a lot of fantasy which gives the movie more audible power and presence; I don’t know why, but it reminds me of what would happen if the soundtrack to Labyrinth was adapted to a Horror movie. While brief, the soundtrack does have some eighties pop-rock by Zooming on the Zoo and Simon Boswell (this time, only one song), but they fit the scenes pretty well; it isn’t like the Iron Maiden track used in Phenomena.

The gore effects are pretty good, though nothing on the same level as Tom Savini. There’s plenty of blood shed, but nothing you’d expect out of a Lucio Fulci movie. The best this movie does is a very violent and rather shocking suicide. When the movie tries to handle something as big as, say a head explosion, it has the splatter effect but due to the lacking budget it looks too silly to really absorb the gravity of the death.


The movie has its share of weak editing choices. Early in the movie a demonic hand appears from nowhere and pulls a horse and its rider into the pit of bodies. Due to the hand disappearing in several shots, and being nowhere near the actual bodies, it makes for a very awkward moment. The scene is made worse when we never actually see the horse, or rider, get held down by the demonic undead. There’s also this rather ridiculous scene with Cupisti’s character where she ineffectually calls the police, dives through a window and within seconds the police are there… It couldn’t have been concerned neighbors, huh? Plus, the dubbing is average at best, especially when the field trip kids arrive: each of their voices is either dull or flat, but when their emotions are excited or in pain then their voices are whiny and broken, despite still sounding bored.

It’s interesting to note that one original title for this movie is Demons 3 as an attempt at a third Demons movie. Indeed the film does contain recognizable elements from the first Demons movie, such as the two lovers trying to escape confinement by taking a hidden/separate path only to meet a harrowing demise (it’s interesting to note that the women from both movies have poofy hair). There’s also that sliver of drool slowly rolling down the mirror shot, though this time the drool is like a tear… from a painting… which serves as a hallucinogenic self-reflection of time and vanity… and silly old woman effects. It also carries the theme of a group of European folks trapped in a large building trying to survive a demonic infestation. However, unlike Demons 1 and 2, there’s not that much struggle going on. You’d think we would see more demons infecting people in separate groups like the bridal photographers, the field trip kids, Father Gus or Lisa, but instead everyone just kind of sits back and goes crazy.

This leads me into one of the biggest problems I had with The Church: a lack of urgency. You see, once the demon infestation starts running rampant, and people start dying, the movie grinds to a NECK SNAPPING halt as it cuts to the field trip kids acting weird/annoying or the old couple being crotchety. It takes forever to cut back to Lisa, Gus, the bikers or even the bridal model, all of which liven the whole situation up. Hell, we don’t even see what happens to Giovanni Radice’s character! Someone just throws a black cloak over his face and he disappears from the movie completely! They really should’ve edited the scenes with the field trip kids better. We get several shots of one slick-haired kid running around surrounded by cigarette smoke taking his teacher’s glasses when they fall off, and there’s no reason why. There’s this genuinely boring scene of two kids in the church huddling over each other while one of them cries; The scene runs on for about a minute, but it’s so out of place and useless I just wanted one of the kids to explode on a molecular level and end the stupid, dead-end scene all ready!! *


The Conclusion
This may sound like the recommendation from a pure film snob, but you’d be doing yourself some Horror movie injustice if you don’t check this movie out. The Church is a very well shot, religiously disturbing and moody Horror film with plenty of build-up, decent effects and a creepy Goblin score. In the annals of Italian Horror films, The Church holds its own as a strange and eerie movie of ambitious proportions; if you can look past its notable flaws, you’re focusing on a great movie! Besides, it is better than Demons 3: The Ogre




*: Lesson learned: never have more than one kid Extra in your Horror movie.

Halloween Horrors #22: The Killer Must Kill Again

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 31 - 2011

No more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween! No more days till Halloween, SILVER SHAMROCK!

That’s right folks, the day is upon us! We still have a couple of reviews here on Varied Celluloid, but you can always come back and revisit them if you’re too busy helping the kids play dress up! My final review for the month is of this Luigi Cozzi directed giallo title The Killer Must Kill Again. Easily one of the best films of this Halloween Horrors celebration! Click on the poster art and discover why!

The Plot: George Hilton plays Giorgio, the playboy husband of a rich socialite. Using his wife’s money, he has established himself financially and has several key investments that are about to pay off. However, when his wife suspects him of cheating, she quickly pulls the financial aid from him and he is left out in the cold. When he leaves his wife, he heads out without anywhere to go other than his lover Frederica’s apartment. When he stops to make a phone call to his lover though, he notices something strange going on by the neighboring docks. He sees a very strange looking man pushing a car, with a woman inside of it, off the dock and into the water. Hilton approaches the crazed looking man and the two begin a conversation. Hilton wants his wife out of the picture, this man has killed before, it seems that their chance meeting was a gift. So Giorgio offers The Killer a job, and the two devise a plan to bump off Mrs. Giorgio and make it look like a kidnapping. This way Giorgio can provide a neat alibi and these two can split the ransom money. All seems to be according to plan when The Killer manages his way into the apartment and kills off Giorgio’s wife. However, when The Killer places the dead woman in his trunk and heads back into the crime scene in order to clean up any potential fingerprints, he accidentally leaves his Mercedes running with the keys inside of it and the door open. Luca and Laura are two young lovers who decide that stealing this open Mercedes would be the perfect way for them to catch a ride to the shore in order to have a romantic rendezvous. Unfortunately for them, they will be tracked throughout the following days by The Killer, who wants his car and the body of Giorgio’s wife back.




Killer Must Kill Again, The

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 31 - 2011

The Killer Must Kill Again (1975)
Director: Luigi Cozzi
Writers: Adriano Bolzoni, Luigi Cozzi, Daniele Del Giudice and Patrick Jamain
Starring: George Hilton, Michel Antoin, Chritina Galbo and Eduardo Fajardo



The Plot: George Hilton plays Giorgio, the playboy husband of a rich socialite. Using his wife’s money, he has established himself financially and has several key investments that are about to pay off. However, when his wife suspects him of cheating, she quickly pulls the financial aid from him and he is left out in the cold. When he leaves his wife, he heads out without anywhere to go other than his lover Frederica’s apartment. When he stops to make a phone call to his lover though, he notices something strange going on by the neighboring docks. He sees a very strange looking man pushing a car, with a woman inside of it, off the dock and into the water. Hilton approaches the crazed looking man and the two begin a conversation. Hilton wants his wife out of the picture, this man has killed before, it seems that their chance meeting was a gift. So Giorgio offers The Killer a job, and the two devise a plan to bump off Mrs. Giorgio and make it look like a kidnapping. This way Giorgio can provide a neat alibi and these two can split the ransom money. All seems to be according to plan when The Killer manages his way into the apartment and kills off Giorgio’s wife. However, when The Killer places the dead woman in his trunk and heads back into the crime scene in order to clean up any potential fingerprints, he accidentally leaves his Mercedes running with the keys inside of it and the door open. Luca and Laura are two young lovers who decide that stealing this open Mercedes would be the perfect way for them to catch a ride to the shore in order to have a romantic rendezvous. Unfortunately for them, they will be tracked throughout the following days by The Killer, who wants his car and the body of Giorgio’s wife back.

The Review
There are two very distinct and very important factors that played into me searching out The Killer Must Kill Again. The first of these factors is the most evident, the title. I have written several times, more this month than at any point in this site’s history, about the importance of a title when it comes to marketing in regards to the giallo. I have covered a number of giallo films recently and although we are all familiar with the gimmicks that play out in these movies, often with the titles barely even factoring into the story, but sometimes you simply want bragging rights in order to bring up these strange film titles in everyday conversation. Who doesn’t like namedropping The Suspected Death of a Minor or Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key? The second factor in my tracking the film down was the strange look of one of the film’s key stars, Michel Antoin. He has a very strong look to him, with chiseled facial features that seem to scream “horror movie.” His Frankenstein-like appearance on the poster art was enough to grab my attention and burn its way into my memory. With Mondo Macabro releasing the DVD, it also seemed a good bet that the movie wouldn’t be awful. Although these are purely superficial aspects that dragged me into this movie, they prove to have been a good indicator of a very solid thriller.

With this film, I found a new respect for Luigi Cozzi. Best known for his work on schlocky pieces of Italian scifi/exploitation such as Contagion and Starcrash, The Killer Must Kill Again actually shows that this director could both craft suspense and a visually alluring feature film. Wrapped up in style, this film is shot as beautifully as one would certainly expect from any popular Italian thriller of the time. Featuring excellent use of the frame, dynamic lighting and some utterly amazing set decoration, The Killer Must Kill Again is the perfect example of why this genre of film is so popular with cinema fans. Standout locations within include our main protagonist’s apartment, which is decorated in a ridiculously shiny coat of yellow in nearly every room. Gold and yellow adorn every hall in the apartment, and even the phone somehow manages to match with the color scheme. Cozzi shows an affection for this highly decorative set, because he makes it one of the central locations throughout the entire movie. Clashing with this yellow scheme are the curtains which are of an odd blue and grey design that still somehow manages to match along with the rest of the scenery. Although these films were about their suspense and violence for most fans, the style and otherworldly fashions are part of what makes them eternal. This is what takes a piece of exploitation and holds it above the murky waters of schlock, and actually leads it into a different level of artistry.

The film delves into numerous styles throughout, not just the general giallo format. During the initial part of the film’s big chase, with our Killer hunting down his grey Mercedes, we are shown a fairly amazing bit of cinematic logic. Cozzi uses a dizzying number of wild effects in order to craft an impossibly fast pace for a chase that will last for nearly the majority of the movie. This sequence includes strange fades to black as well as the use of jazz music to give the scene a beatnik feeling that seems more suitable for a student film of the era, rather than an intense cinematic thriller. Throughout this chase Cozzi implements a number of varying stylistic choices. Included amongst these are focused irises around topics that are of interest to the viewer from afar, lots more jazz music, and inevitably an incredible amount of suspense. The film certainly seems to be the type of project that was inspired by the work of Alfred Hitchcock. The principal idea behind the initial killing is a very general piece of suspense building, which seems entirely Hitchcockian to be honest, and Luigi Cozzi’s handling of the tension that it builds is exceptional.

The tension is wrought throughout the duration of the film, almost to the point that it becomes humorous. The bait and switches are so obvious and so often that the audience watches with anticipation to see what the setups will be and how the filmmakers will deliver our lead characters out of them. The trunk is used as a go-to suspense builder throughout the course of the film. We know that there is a dead body inside of it, and the way that our car thieves continually reference it throughout the movie is meant to try the patience of the audience, but instead it becomes a point of true entertainment. During a beach side scene where Luca pontificates trying to get inside of a locked building, he comes up with the brilliant idea that he should search in the trunk in order to find a tool to get the door open (a car jack is what he has on his mind, of all tools). We watch in a tracking shot as he walks in the direction of the car, but at the very last minute we are saved when Laura calls him away. The tiny things like this make the movie. How the film builds its suspense with us watching Luca do his slow jaunting walk up the beach is partly ridiculous, and yet partly brilliant in its simplicity. Most members of the audience can imagine that Luca will be distracted, but you still can’t help but appreciate how tense such a mundane action becomes.


The Conclusion
Although it honestly doesn’t seem fair to call this film a “giallo,” that is the genre that it belongs to. This is an Italian serial-killing thriller made during the 1970s, so how could it be anything else? Easily the best film that I have seen from Cozzi so far, and a very well crafted work of suspense. I give the film an overall rating of four out of five. I highly recommend readers track this one down.




Halloween Horrors #21: Messiah of Evil – by Prof. Aglaophotis

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 30 - 2011

Things are winding down here on Varied Celluloid, folks! Only a couple of other reviews to go, and tomorrow you’ll all be celebrating the most festive day of the year for horror nerds! Today, Prof. Aglaophotis returns yet again for seconds as he takes on the very best public domain film that I have personally ever seen. Messiah of Evil AKA: Dead People, is a horror title quite unlike any other. Give his review a read after clicking on the poster art.

The Plot: The story opens with the despondent diction of Arletty Lang, a woman who was placed in an asylum after her encounter in a small town called Point Dune. She had gone there in search of her father, Joseph, a local painter who moved there after Mrs. Lang passed away. In the ensuing years, his letters became Arletty’s only form of contact with her father. Sensing something was wrong from his depressing and threatened messages, she drove to Point Dune. Upon finding his house empty, Arletty discovers she’s in a town filled with strange people, and is forced to trust a trio of swingers: Laura, Toni and Tom, the latter of whom is also searching for Joseph. Tom is a major in mythology who wants to learn about the town legend that the moon on the side of Point Dune turned blood-red back in the 1800’s. As the four of them stay in the Lang house, strange events occur as the people of Point Dune begin droning around the town at night. Soon, Arletty will discover what’s so important about the blood moon as well as her true role in searching for her father: as the Messiah of Evil rises back into power.




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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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