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