Saturday, October 30, 2021

Keith Emerson - La Chiesa (2002)

Keith Emerson - La Chiesa (2002)

Tracklist front / back album covers

The Church (Italian: La Chiesa) is a 1989 Italian supernatural horror film co-written and directed by Michele Soavi, and produced by Dario Argento with Mario Cecchi Gori and Vittorio Cecchi Gori. It stars Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana, Barbara Cupisti, Asia Argento, Feodor Chaliapin, Jr. and Giovanni Lombardo Radice.

The Church was originally conceived as the third installment in the Dèmoni series, following Demons (1985) and Demons 2 (1986). Soavi insisted the film to be distant from the series, wanting it to be "sophisticated", and re-wrote the screenplay to remove any connection to the series. Filming was primarily shot in the Matthias Church in Budapest, with additional footage filmed at studio sets in Rome and in downtown Hamburg, Germany.

In medieval Germany, a band of Teutonic Knights massacre a village of supposed devil-worshippers and bury their bodies underground, building a Gothic cathedral over the mass grave as a means to contain the demonic evil within.

In the present day, the cathedral's new librarian Evan arrives for his first day on the job. He meets Lisa, an artist supervising a restoration of the church's elaborate frescoes, who introduces him to the surly Bishop and the kindly Father Gus. The Bishop warns Evan not to enter the church's catacombs, nominally due to their instability.

Lisa begins restoring a fresco in the cellar, when she uncovers a hidden compartment containing a mysterious parchment carrying what resemble architectural schematics. Evan sneaks the parchment out of the church under the suspicious Bishop's nose, and goes home with Lisa. Bonding over a mutual interest in medieval art and architecture, the two start to make love, when Evan has a sudden realization and finds hidden Latin text on the parchment referring to a "stone with seven eyes."

As Evan explores the catacombs to find the stone, Gus and Lisa experience strange, paranormal visions. Meanwhile, the Bishop finds the parchment and begins studying it closely. Searching the cellar, Evan uncovers the stone in a hidden crypt; a seal embedded into the ground above a cross. Evan manages to pry open the seal, revealing a vast, seemingly endless black void. A blue light radiates from the hole and reveals a sack. Evan opens the sack, and is grabbed by hands from the inside before he blacks out. When he regains consciousness, the sack and hands are gone, and his wrists are bleeding. Evan closes the hole and the sacristan enters in search of an intruder. Evan knocks him out and flees, becoming pale and bloody. Losing control of his hands, he tears out his still-beating heart and bites into it.

At home, Lisa experiences dreams of the unsealed hole and a vast, candle-filled atrium. Awake and waiting for Evan's return, she is attacked by a goat-headed demon and flees in terror. Returning home, the sacristan begins experiencing the same symptoms as Evan.

The next day, Lisa goes to Evan's office, where he is acting strangely. He tries to sexually assault her and she flees, shocked and horrified. Evan likewise menaces the sacristan's daughter Lotte, with whom he'd previously been amiable. Evan and the sacristan both become increasingly disheveled and violent. Lotte flees her apartment when she sees her father (who was in the process of abusing Lotte) reflected as an ape-like demon. Having a moment of clarity, the sacristan rushes to the confession booth, and tells Father Gus that he has become demonically possessed and fears losing control. To Gus' horror, he rushes to the cellar and kills himself with a jackhammer, begging for forgiveness before he dies.

His death seemingly triggers security mechanisms that cause the church to seal shut, trapping everyone inside. Among the occupants are a class of schoolchildren on a field trip, a bride taking wedding photographs, an elderly couple, and a pair of teenage bikers. The occupants begin experiencing increasingly elaborate and deadly visions. The bride sees her reflection rapidly age, and in a fit of madness tears the skin off her own face. One of the schoolchildren sees his friend turn into his doppelganger before being killed. The teenager sees his girlfriend in the embrace of a gargoyle. As the occupants try to find a way out, Gus confronts the aloof Bishop, and discovers him on the rooftop with a stash of occult parchments and schematics for the church. He reveals that he intends to let the evil inside kill the occupants before being unleashed on what he sees as a sinful and corrupt world, before committing suicide.

Those inside start dying in droves; the teenage couple manage to dig through a thin section of the floor and rappel down beneath the church, only to unknowingly enter a subway tunnel and be struck and killed. The sacristan reanimates as a specter and completely possessed, proceeds to kill the schoolteacher. At a nightclub in town, Lotte senses something wrong and rushes back to the church, using a secret passageway in the aqueduct to get inside. Meanwhile, Lisa enters into a trance and wanders into the cellar, finding herself in the same candlelit atrium of her dreams. Surrounded by the reanimated specters of the church's victims who chant blasphemy, she lies atop an altar and is raped by Evan, now fully transformed into a gargoyle-like demon.

Searching the Bishop's office, Gus finds the ancient records recounting the church's creation. Lotte enters, and upon sees someone who looks like her in a woodcut depicting the massacre (implied to be her in a past-life). Suddenly flooded with memories from centuries prior, she reveals that the church's architect was left to die in the church he had built, and that his body contains a self-destruct mechanism for the entire building. Gus tells Lotte to flee, and he makes his way through the cellar and to the chapel hall as the dead bodies of the massacre victims begin to rise. Gus reaches the altar, and finds a massive pile of reanimating corpses rising out of the ground, forming as the head of Satan. He finds the architect's mummified body hidden beneath the floor, and activates the self-destruct mechanism. The building collapses, killing everyone inside, including Gus, Lisa and Evan. Only Lotte escapes.

Some time later, Lotte returns to the ruins of the church with flowers. A passing truck uncovers the stone seal and blows it open. As she hears the sounds of horses running, blue light emits from within, just like when Evan first opened it, and she smiles enigmatically.

Movie Cast

Hugh Quarshie as Father Gus

Tomas Arana as Evan

Asia Argento as Lotte

Barbara Cupisti as Lisa

Giovanni Lombardo Radice as Reverend Dominic

Feodor Chaliapin, Jr. as The Bishop

John Karlsen as Heinrich

John Richardson as The Architect

Michele Soavi as Police officer

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