The Day of the Beast (El día de la bestia) is a 1995 Spanish black comedy horror film directed by Álex de la Iglesia and starring Álex Angulo, Armando De Razza and Santiago Segura.
Angel, a Basque priest and professor of theology, confesses to another priest that he intends to commit as much evil as he can. The other priest is shocked until Angel whispers his reasoning. When the other priest agrees to help him, a large cross falls and crushes him.
Angel goes into downtown Madrid, committing various sins and crimes such as taking money from a homeless man, pushing a street performer over, and telling a dying man to go to Hell and stealing his wallet. He goes to a record store and meets Jose Mari. A self-described Satanist and heavy metal fan from the popular neighborhood of Carabanchel. He gives him a tape of the most “evil” band he can think of. Jose puts Angel up in his mother’s boarding house where he lives with his mother, grandfather, and Mina. She is a woman he is attracted to that helps his mother with the business.
Angel then attempts to steal a book from a book store written by occult TV show host Professor Cavan, who he believes can tell him how to sell his soul to Satan. He tries to explain to the store manager his theory. A secret code in the Bible says that the Antichrist will be born at midnight on Christmas Eve, and he intends to sell his soul before the night is out to get into the birth ceremony and kill the Antichrist. The store manager does not believe him and he flees.
Angel and Jose team up to kidnap and tie up Cavan. They intimidate him into telling them how to complete a ritual in which Angel can sell his soul to the Devil. The ritual requires the blood of a virgin, so Angel first tries to get it from Cavan’s girlfriend Susana. But after knocking her out by mistake, Cavan admits that she is not a virgin. Angel then goes back to the boarding house, drugs Mina, and draws some of her blood. But Jose’s mother sees him and tries to kill him with a shotgun. He escapes with some of the blood, but accidentally kills Jose’s mother in the process. Angel, Jose, and Cavan are able to burn a piece of paper, take LSD, and complete the ritual, which Cavan believes – like most of his “occult” practices” – is made up.
Will the ritual work? Can Angel find the Antichrist before it’s too late?
The Day of the Beast definitely subverted my expectations and turned out to be a pretty great horror comedy. Angel, Jose and Cavan’s dynamic is absolute comedy gold. Why can the police not catch such a strange bunch of people? Does a priest in a beret, a metal head covered in blood holding a shotgun and a TV mystic personality not stand out enough?
As much as I enjoyed the comedy, it wasn’t too much. The movie is definitely taken seriously enough and it’s a good mix. I anticipated the film might be arty or a bit nonsensical because of the subject matter but it wasn’t at all.
Although there was some gore, it was a bit tame and could have been more horrific. My opinion is, no horror movie can ever have too much blood. But perhaps they were aiming for more realistic than over the top.
The ambiguity of if they were just tripping balls the entire time or if they actually saw the devil was interesting. However I didn’t like the ending. I felt the gang was randomly inserted and it should have been Father Angel’s role to kill the Antichrist. But, alas, they had their minds set on a happy ending scene and killing a baby, even Satan’s baby, would have ruined that I suppose.
Overall, The Day of the Beast is great, it’s funny and dark and shows a different side to the Christmas season. Feliz Navidad!
The Final Score - 7/10