Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Euro - Horror Vaction: The Day of the Beast (aka El Dia de la Bestia) (1995)

The Day of the Beast (aka El Dia de la Bestia) (1995)
Director:  Álex de la Iglesia
Starring: Álex Angulo, Armando De Razza, and  Santiago Segura
Running Time: 99 min

  I've been meaning to catch this film for a long time because it keeps popping up on so many lists on good horror films.  I really don't know what to expect, outside of that it's a horror comedy, which for some reason gives me a feeling of dread for some reason.  So, here goes nothing.

  A priest, who is also a theology professor, comes to the church to ask for forgiveness for his impending sins.  The other priest is confused and the first priest explains that he has discovered something in the scriptures that has been overlooked for years, so now he must be as evil as possible to stop the impending doom.  The second priest asks the first one to explain and the original priest whispers the impending doom to the other.  After hearing this, the other priest agrees that something must be done to offers to help him.  The first priest warns the other priest that the devil may try to stop them anyway he can and that they should be very careful.  The second priest tells him not to worry and as they leave the second priest is crushed by a giant crucifix.  The first priest leaves to start his reign of evil deeds.
  The priest heads to Madrid and steals money from beggars, unblesses a dying man and even pushes a mime down a set of stairs.  Well that last one really isn't that evil, we've all wanted to do that.  Anyway the priest winds up at a heavy metal record store and asks for a number of albums to be played backwards to look for satanic messages.  Jose Maria, the stores owner likes this priests style and is happy to accommodate.  He even suggests to the priest a local band that is playing at a club called Hell the following night.  The priest thanks him and is about to leave when Jose notices that the priest is carrying a suitcase, then asks if the priest needs a place to stay.  He does and recommends the boarding house where he lives.  So, the priest heads over and gets a room for the night.
  The next day is Christmas eve and the priest finds a book by a popular TV psychic, Cavan that will help him in his journey.  He tries to steal the book and is dragged into the mall security office.  There the priest explains to the mall cop that Armageddon is coming and the Anti-Christ will be born before tomorrows dawn and that he is trying to sin as much as possible, so he can sell his soul to the devil and stop the baby from being born.  The mall cop leaves the room and tells his secretary to call a sanitarium to pick this guy up, but when he returns to the office, the priest belts him with an iron.  He escapes back to the boarding house and then with the help of Jose and Jose's mom's car, they go to find the TV psychic to help stop the end of the world.
  They follow the TV psychic, Cavan home from the TV station and when the priest tells him his plan, Cavan of course asks him to leave or he'll call the police.  So, the priest kidnaps Cavan and forces him to tell him how to invoke the devil.  Eventually, Cavan falters and explains that they need to make a circle with a knife, eat a blessed host dipped in psychotropics mixed with virgins blood and say the incantation inside the circle.  Luckily,  Jose has a bag full of acid in his jacket and he wanders into the kitchen to get a knife to start carving up the circle.  The priest leaves to get the blood and after a battle at the boarding house, he eventually returns with the blood of a virgin.  They untie Cavan, eat the acid and the priest says the magic words.  Will the priest be able fool the devil, get invited to the Armageddon birthing party and stop the Anti-Christ to save all of humanity from it's impending doom or are these guys just bat shit crazy and they're really the ones who need to be stopped?

 This film is fantastic and I wish I had watched it sooner.  Director and co-writer Álex de la Iglesia tells a hilarious and disturbing story of a priest trying to do the right thing by doing all the wrong things.  The story starts off with this priest, who is a noted theologian, discovering this code in the scriptures and you believe that he knows what he's talking about but as the movie progresses, you become more and more weary of the priest and are forced to really wonder about his sanity.  The film is smart this way and once the trio take the acid, then you really have to question, if the priest and the others are actually seeing visions of the devil and getting messages from God or if they're tripping balls out on ideas implanting by this priest.  It gets so crazy because you want it character to be righteous but he may just be a maniac.
  What also makes this film hilarious is that it doesn't seem that the priest has ever left the small town where he teaches at and he has never watched TV, so this becomes a fish out of water type film.  Not only is it funny to watch this older priest, played brilliantly by Álex Angulo (Pans Labyrinth, Brujas), doing these awful things to get an invite to the Anti-christ's birthday bash but since he doesn't understand the culture of a more modern city like Madrid and is unfamiliar with advertising and television.  This then really skews some of his ability of reading and interrupting signs from God that seem to be all around them.  Are they really signs from God or clever marketing slogans and taglines? 

 There isn't that much here to complain about.  The only thing I could see is that some people might get pissy about is with the stereotypical look of heavy metal fans, but aren't we all just drugged out Satan worshipers anyway.  I'm kidding, this is a often used stereotype but I think it works here, because it is a necessary part of the story.  Also, Santiago Segura (Hellboy II, Blade II), who plays Jose Maria is awesome in this and I would totally hang out with that character, and I think I have or at least some people like that when I was a teen.
  Anyway, the other thing is the ending, which is interesting but it moves fast and like the rest of the film isn't clear, concise and absolute.  Which is cool, I dig that I'm still wondering about a lot of things concerning the end.  Isn't that the sign of a good film, that it makes you think and question what happened, if anything it definitely make the movie more memorable.  However, if you're not into that then you may find this ending a bit frustrating but just take it at face value because it is still funny and good wrap up.  

  This is a great film and a must see for anyone who likes a good horror comedy.  The story is solid, in a twisted mind fuck kind of way, it's got some very dark but funny bits and there is some violence that horror fans will really dig.  So if you're looking for a good Anti-Christ Christmas movie, this is the one that should be in yer stocking this year.


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