The Day of the Beast

It is an unusual confession for a priest, that he intends to commit all the sin that he can, but Father Ángel Berriartúa is an unusual man, a professor of theology who has devoted himself to translating arcana and who now believes that through numerical analysis he has deciphered the code hidden in the texts which confirms the precise date of the birth of the Antichrist, December 25th 1995, most likely within city of Madrid, beset by violence in the streets, desecrated graves, stolen babies and police brutality.

Needing to know the precise location in order to intervene, Father Berriartúa sets about tarnishing himself so that he might be accepted as an acolyte into the unholy orders of Satan worshippers, enlisting a death metal fan who works in a record store, José Maria, and kidnapping the television presenter Ennio Lombardo, known as “Professor Cavan,” who professes occult knowledge and performs exorcisms on The Dark Zone, hoping that by pooling their resources they can prevent the Day of the Beast from occurring.

The second feature from Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia after the science fiction shenanigans of 1993’s Acción mutante, The Day of the Beast (El día de la bestia) was again co-written with Jorge Guerricaechevarría, originally released two months before the day upon which the events take place and later sweeping the Goya awards with six wins including best director, art direction, sound, special effects and makeup and hairstyles with a further eight artistic and technical nominations.

A telenovela passion play of heavy metal, television psychics and a make-shift kitchen cupboard Satanic sacrament of LSD tabs and sliced bread standing in for communion wafers, the blood of a virgin the greatest challenge and having introduced a dead body into the mix, the end is pretty seriously nigh and neither Father Berriartúa, Professor Cavan nor José Maria (Álex Angulo, Armando De Razza and Santiago Segura who won the Goya for best newcomer) are promising prospects to avert the apocalypse.

With a perfectly executed opening scene which rivals the surprise deaths of The Omen, The Day of the Beast is absurd and outrageous in its conceit and frequent violence, bleakly hilarious as Father Berriartúa piously applies himself to his new calling, abusing street performers and telling a dying man to rot in hell instead of performing the last rites before applying self-inflicted cigarette burn stigmata.

An uneven path trod by the trio, caught somewhere between unlikely crusaders and the devil’s playthings, the meanderings fortunately lead back to the righteous path and while the momentum occasionally lapses the film always manages to rally again, offering something bolder and more daring than the similarly themed L’anticristo or Deliver Us by virtue (or sin) of the fact that de la Iglesia does not seem to care whom he shocks or offends.

The Day of the Beast is available on the Arrow platform now



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