The Church (film)

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This article is about the film. For other uses of the term "church", see Church.
The Church
Italian theatrical film poster
Directed by Michele Soavi
Produced by Dario Argento
Mario Cecchi Gori
Vittorio Cecchi Gori
Screenplay by Dario Argento
Michele Soavi
Franco Ferrini
Dardano Sacchetti (uncredited)
Lamberto Bava (uncredited)
Fabrizio Bava (prologue)
Based on The Treasure of Abbot Thomas (short story) 
by M.R. James
Starring Hugh Quarshie
Tomas Arana
Barbara Cupisti
Asia Argento
Giovanni Lombardo Radice
Music by Keith Emerson
Philip Glass
Goblin (as The Goblins)
Fabio Pignatelli
Cinematography Renato Tafuri
Edited by Franco Fraticelli
ADC Films
Cecchi Gori Group Tiger Cinematografica
Distributed by Cecchi Gori Distribuzione
Release dates
  • 10 March 1989 (1989-03-10) (Rome)
Running time
110 minutes
Country Italy
Language English
Budget $3,500,000 (Estimated)

The Church (Italian title: La chiesa), also known as Cathedral of Demons or Demon Cathedral, is a 1989 Italian horror film directed by Michele Soavi. It was produced by Dario Argento with Mario Cecchi Gori and Vittorio Cecchi Gori, and written by Argento, Soavi, Franco Ferrini, Dardano Sacchetti, Lamberto and Fabrizio Bava.[1] It stars Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana, Barbara Cupisti, Asia Argento, Feodor Chaliapin, Jr. and Giovanni Lombardo Radice.[2]

It is the official second sequel to the Dèmoni series, although it has no direct thematic link with the first two parts, and therefore the 1991 horror film Dèmoni 3 (also known as Black Demons) is usually and incorrectly associated as the third film of the saga.

Plot summary[edit]

In medieval Germany, the Teutonic Knights massacre a village of supposed "witches" and build the titular structure over their dead bodies. In the present day, the church's new librarian (Tomas Arana) breaks the seal of the crypt out of curiosity and releases the evil spirits contained beneath it. At the same time, the church's automated mechanisms, which were set up by the architect who built the church, are triggered, causing the doors to close and trapping everyone inside, including a group of visitors. Father Gus (Hugh Quarshie), the only person not affected by the demons, eventually finds the way to make the church collapse on itself but dies in the process of doing so. Before the movie ends, Lotte (Asia Argento), the sacristan's daughter and the sole survivor of the incident, is seen walking towards the ruins of the church. She finds the seal of the crypt, opens it and peers inside. Blue light emits from within, just like when the librarian first opened it, and she smiles.



The Church was originally conceived as the third film in the Dèmoni series; however, Michele Soavi insisted that the film stand alone and not connected with the first two entries.[3] In an interview, Soavi derisively referred to those films as "Pizza Schlock", and expressed that he wanted The Church to be more sophisticated.[4]

Soavi, in an interview with Cinefantastique, explained that he wished to move beyond with his creations following the film's release, and because of that he declined to keep working with Argento as a team.[5] It is known in Japan as Demons 3.[6]


The score was composed by rock musician Keith Emerson and by composer Philip Glass. The soundtrack featured tracks from Goblin and Fabio Pignatelli.[7]


The film premiered in Rome on 10 March 1989 and was released in the Italian cinemas on the same day.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, The Church has an approval rating of 70% based on nine reviews, satisfying the "Fresh" criteria.[9] Allmovie called it a "gothic-drenched apocalyptic nightmare" that builds "a suffocating sense of quiet dread".[10]


External shots are of Matthias Church in Budapest. The final scene features the tower from St. Nicholas' Church, Hamburg.


External links[edit]