[31 Days Of Horror] Mini Reviews: Sweeney Todd (1936) and The Church (1989)

Mini Review Day 5: Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (1936)

There are several film versions of Sweeney Todd, and up until now I hadn’t seen any of them. I felt compelled to start with director George King’s version, and I am rather glad I did. This low budget UK film was quite a surprise; it was a really solid film and very engaging. It really did not show it’s low budget; it really used every penny. It looks rather wonderful, with one set being particularly terrifying in nature.

A barber tells the story here on Fleet Street, he recounts to his customer the story of Sweeney Todd. You see Sweeney Todd back in his day would lure wealthy costumers to the port that was near his barbershop. He then murdered them and took their money, meanwhile his neighbour Mrs. Lovatt the owner of the nearby bakery would get rid of the bodies (here it alludes that she makes her pies from their meat). Sweeney then tries to find a woman to marry him, which makes Mrs. Lovatt a tad jealous.

It does not really differ much from the source material, and it is amazing that such a story was pulled off back in these days. This film does so rather successfully, it isn’t very graphic but it certainly gives hints to the nastier details. I really liked how this was handled; it allows our imagination to fill in the blanks, which does add a bit of a horrific factor. It is an intense experience once it gets going, with a wonderful final act that had me smiling.

This is well worth seeking out if you are a fan of the story or other adaptations. Tod Slaughter is superbly maniacal as Sweeney Todd and Stella Rho is actually pretty disturbing as Mrs. Lovatt. The film is fairly easy to find as it is in the public domain, you can obtain a free copy.


Mini Review Day 6: The Church (aka La chiesa) (1989)

The Church is a rather intriguing film, full of great ideas and visuals. It feels very belonging in the horror of the late 80’s and early 90’s, so many came out at that time that like this had great ideas and visuals. Italy always has produced a great array of horror, and this was very different than others I have seen recently. I was incredibly impressed with how great the film looked, the Church itself was creepy and the many monsters that were shown were really well done.

The story here begins in medieval times, where we see a huge massacre occur, of people that were considered possessed. A Church was built on top, and as we head to modern days we see that it is still there. When a new librarian arrives to the Church, he accidentally unleashes evil. Soon many get possessed, and those that don’t try to find a way to put a stop to the evil.

I kept that brief and to the point, it is something that works with as little knowledge as possible. I knew absolutely nothing about it, and it took me by surprise. I loved the beginning, it was so different and engaging, I was hooked. It took a bit of time to get adjusted to the time change, but once the evil is unleashed the film picks up so much. It is a little dis-jointed earlier on but it comes together towards the middle and third act.

The visuals as I mentioned are great, and it is a film that really uses those visuals to tell the story. It is a very atmospheric piece, with some Lovecraftian elements. It makes use of some amazing practical effects, very realistic as well, which was great. The performances seemed pretty solid, but sadly the English dub took away from that a bit. At least the dub in itself was better than most, and at times I couldn’t even tell it was dubbed. This is a pretty cool film; glad I got to check it out and thanks to Anthony for the recommendation.


You can view my entire list of 31 Days Of Horror 2012 HERE

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