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Taken off the shelf and retitled "Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice",
this was actually made before the second and third entries in the
unrelated series. This one deals with a possessed albino who was sealed
in the walls of an old monastery 400 years ago. Fast-forward to the
present and a young teacher's arrival to the monastery somehow frees
the demon from it's prison.
I'm a fan of the other three film in the Curse "series", and while I enjoyed this one to an extent, it's easily the weakest of the four. The film boasts an exciting opening sequence, but things get bogged down when we move to the present. Of the cast, Laura Schaefer is certainly attractive, but the only good performance here is that of Jeremy West as the strict Brother Marinus. The atmosphere is solid, Pino Donaggio contributes a typically good score and there's a really effective bit with a possessed statue towards the end. This scene alone is worth seeing the film for.
On the other hand, the film would benefit from a different actor in the hero role. The guy they chose annoyed me, and so did the bedridden priest who goes on and on about utter nonsense. His character should have been omitted entirely. I also can't believe that an obvious continuity error was allowed to remain during the scene where Schaefer walks in on the monks having dinner.
A mixed bag.
Picking this title up for a couple of quid, I had hoped for a standard lame monster flick in which those dam monks get there just deserves. Surprisingly, the characters throughout are well rounded, often humorous and quite believable. The demon that stalks the catacombs has some cool moves that unfortunately are not really exploited in the films conclusion. If you like watching these kind of bargain basement titles then Catacombs will serve you well as it is a little more intelligent and atmospheric than usual. Although not particularly scary or gory this movie offers more than enough laughs and thrills to recommend a rental. 5 outa 10
I have a correction to what was written in an earlier comment. Well this Movie WAS shot under the Catacombs title, not Curse 4. Due to the fall of Empire Pictures around 1989, this film was "lost" for a few years. Charlie Band sold the rights to Tristar/Epic along with the Rights for Robot Jox to Transworld, an earlier film from veteran director Stuart Gordon. Tristar released Catacombs under the Curse 4 title.( Video Box Office) Also The Film score was done by Italian Composer Pino Donaggio. It is a fantastic score, truly haunting. The Stereo sound from Tristar's full screen Laserdisc edition is done nicely. Though there is a little video grain in the picture. The Entertainment in video UK VHS edition is in 1:85:1 and the picture and sound quality is fairly good. This is one of my favorite Empire movies and it is a well put together film from Director David Schmoeller.
Originally filmed in 1988 under the title Catacombs but not released until 1993 due to the production company's bankruptcy, Curse IV is a surprisingly entertaining film. Under the direction of frequent Charles Band collaborator David Schmoeller, the film creates a strong feeling of unease early on and keeps the suspense going fairly strong throughout. Feodor Chaliapin is especially memorable as a dying priest. He comes across with just the right amount of sincerity so that one could honestly see him as a man of the cloth. While far from the greatest film to come out of Empire Pictures, Curse IV is still a fun movie that is worth a look sometime.
Before I watched this horror I watched another one coming from the same year. It's easy to see, again, that horror wasn't very popular around that era. Of course there were some highlights as Hellraiser (1987) but here again, it surely isn't a slasher or a gory piece. But there is a bit of suspense here although that you easily can see who will be possessed by the demon. There is almost no blood in it and the effects used are very cheap. What I mean is, the bodies are doing the tricks and now and then a cross or other things just fall of the wall. The acting is reasonable well and it is strange that this flick never had a proper release. Still up to now it isn't available on VHS or DVD. If you want to see it you will have to find it on rental VHS. It wasn't that bad but it's easy to see that it was a low budget. A perfect example that the latex and slime effects were over, which mostly look gory, and that a new era was on his way, the computer era or better known as CGI. But if you can find it than I would recommend it to watch it.
Catacombs isn't a bad film, the actors are quite believable and do a
good job, and the story keeps you mildly engaged. However, this isn't
really a proper horror film as there is little gore or scares. There's
a lot of mumbo jumbo about demons which is hard to follow. Apparently
it's all to do with a demon trapped underneath the monastery, causing
strange things to happen.
There was one good scene where a statue of Jesus comes alive and kills a man, and I suspect anyone deeply religious would be offended by Catacombs for this reason. I wouldn't recommend this film to horror fans as it's neither here nor there. It's not bad but not that great either.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I got this film in a pack with three other horror films. The other
three are "Dungeon Master", "Cellar Dweller" and the horrendous
"Contamination .7". The only other one I have seen was the awful
"Contamination .7" so while this one was not particularly good,
compared to that it was spectacular! Seriously though, this is another
in a long line of horror films that had something good going for it and
an interesting premise, but ends up being done the wrong way. It starts
out fast enough as something happens in the past and then it is not all
that long in the present that something is released making me think
this one was going to be one heck of a ride; however, it slows down
significantly and ends in basically with an exorcism that is very
anticlimactic. This one was watchable though and it held my interest, I
just feel it could have done better considering how it started out.
The story has an exorcism being done in the past and it fails to produce results so the accursed is sealed within a tomb under a monastery. It switches to present time and a young lady is visiting the monastery and wishes to see the wondrous catacombs underneath it. Unfortunately, the evil that has been sealed is now about to be released for reasons only the makers of the film know and chaos will ensue! Well, it does ensue, but it does so rather slowly. It is up to Timothy Van Patten to get to the bottom of the evil and destroy it once and for all!
So yeah, the film does have a nice scene at the beginning. It just kind of fades out quickly after that. You have the monk who warns everyone that the evil is coming and he is ignored and thought a fool by the head of the place and even though he is absolutely correct, he is still presented as someone to root against. Though if they had listened to him, lives would have been spared. The girl is attractive and near the end of the film she would be possessed, but all that would play out is your basic exorcism scene, well not too basic. I do believe it is the first time I have seen evil defeated with a flashback.
So another in a long line of horror films that was almost good, but they pretty much blew it. There just was not enough going on after the initial scenes and the end was rather weak. They gave us a monastery full of people and had a very low death toll. Still, it was short and while not great, it held my interest enough that the movie did not feel overlong either. So, with a bit of work and some more death, this one could have been something special. As it is, it is just another horror movie on a package of four.
"Catacombs" stands out in the catalogue of Charles Bands' Empire
Pictures; it's actually pretty good, with a refreshing lack of cheese
and camp. Yes, it's possible that it may bore viewers hoping for more
action and a high body count, but it has a serious, somber quality and
atmosphere that makes it quite effective. Filmed at Empires' Italian
studios, it's earnestly acted by a sound cast, deliberately paced,
hauntingly scored (by the ever reliable Pino Donaggio), and uses the
classic theme of good vs. evil to good effect. Granted, the finale is
somewhat underwhelming, but until then the movie works well.
Directed by David Schmoeller, who co-wrote under a pseudonym, it stars "Class of 1984" villain Timothy Van Patten as Father John Durham, who lives in a monastery but isn't part of the brotherhood of monks residing there. The place is visited by a schoolteacher named Elizabeth Magrino (Laura Schaefer, "Ghost Town"), and this seems to serve as a catalyst for supernatural phenomena to occur. John, Elizabeth, and the others realize then that there is an evil presence on hand.
"Catacombs" is bolstered by its engaging performances; Van Patten is low key but likable, as is the lovely Schaefer. Ian Abercrombie ("Army of Darkness") and Vernon Dobtcheff ("Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade") each have a warm presence as the monks who give Elizabeth a nice welcome, while Jeremy West is very good as Brother Marinus, a humourless stiff who distrusts her presence. Feodor Chaliapin Jr. is touching as the terminally ill Brother Terrel. And viewers are certain to remember cast member Brett Porter as the creepy possessed albino.
Production design (by Giovanni Natalucci) and cinematography (by Sergio Salvati) are first rate, and special effects are good but kept to a minimum.
Fans of 1980s horror who love discovering the more obscure offerings may find this to be very respectable and interesting.
Eight out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A demon that's been trapped in a monastery for four hundred years gets unleashed after troubled priest Father John Durham (a fine and likable performance by Timothy Van Patten) and sweet school teacher Elizabeth Magrino (a sound and appealing portrayal by the lovely Laura Schaeffer) arrive at said monastery. Director David Schmoeller, who also co-wrote the smart and involving script with R. Baker Price, relates the engrossing story at a steady pace, does an ace job of crafting a creepy atmosphere rife with dread and unease, stages the shock scenes with flair, handles the religious angle with tact and taste, and makes excellent use of the dusty sprawling abbey location. The monks in the monastery are a colorful and interesting bunch: Ian Abercrombie as the jolly superior Brother Orsini, Jeremy West as the dour and fanatical Brother Marinus, Vernon Dobtcheff as the friendly Brother Timothy, and Feoder Chaliapin as the sickly and dying Father Terrel. Moreover, this movie is notable for an striking sequence in which a statue of Christ comes to malevolent life and kills a priest. The big climactic confrontation between good and evil manages to be pretty thrilling and satisfying without resorting to the usual flashy pyrotechnics. Kudos are also in order for Sergio Salvati's handsome cinematography and Pino Donaggio's beautifully eerie score. A neat little fright film.
O brother where art thou? when all around you the brothers of the cloth
are beginning to lose sight of their religion and all those who still
survive firmly believe that their world is crumbling all around them!
Whilst the death knell was quietly sounding in the background for
Empire Pictures, Charles Band still kept his head and and his feet
firmly on the ground when this classy little chiller went into
production, filmed in the beautiful surroundings of Italy.
At the helm of 'Catacombs' was Empire stalwart David Schmoeller, who can proudly list amongst his achievements the very fine 'Crawlspace' and the not so bad 'Netherworld'.
Whilst most people have often derided this movie as boring and severely lacking in the requisite chills department, let me state right here and now and categorically state, that this movie has got it all! David Schmoeller has crafted a well thought out little gem, the script contains many outstanding flourishes and more importantly, it's the cast of veteran actors who really get the chance to shine.
Timothy Van Patten is a man at odds with his faith, so he is sent on secondment to an out of the way brotherhood. The brotherhood in question is watched over by Brother Orsini superbly played by Ian Abercrombie(another regular in the annals of Empire Pictures.
Of course whilst everything is ticking along nicely, an unnamed brother is quietly excavating in the lower reaches of the monastery, as this is a horror movie, we the viewer just know that if he delves any deeper into the catacombs he will find himself in the midst of a very nasty surprise.
At the same time, a teacher named Elizabeth, (played by the very beautiful Laura Schaefer, who was previously to be seen in another Empire wonder 'Ghost Town') has come to the monastery to study.
Needless to say, all hell literally breaks loose, and whispers and superstitions gradually take hold over everyone, Brother Orsini's second in command Brother Marinus played with devilish glee by Jeremy West('Howling 6 - The Freaks')senses his moment of gaining control over the monastery is close to hand.
As previously mentioned, what really raises this movie to great heights is the acting, especially the participation of Feodor Chaliapin Jnr as the elderly brother who is getting ready to breath his last breath, the scene between himself and Van Patten when Chaliapin's shares of his one great regret in life, really is quite touching.
The screen villain played by Brett Porter ably holds his own as the possessed albino and the showdown between him and Van Patten contains many a wonderful exchange.
If ever a movie deserved a higher recognition this movie truly was it, I learn-ed many years later that this movie was released to DVD as a supposed sequel to that god awful movie 'The Curse', now that was truly a major shame, held high upon it's own merits, 'Catacombs' rocks on every level.
As a legacy of Empire Pictures past, this movie should be right at the top of the list.
Without hesitation, this movie gets 10/10
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