The Day of the Beast (1995)

When you consider all the elements that have gone into this movie, it’s hard to deny that it really shouldn’t have worked. Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia has put together a film that fuses ideas of the apocalypse and the antichrist with heavy metal and one of the blackest streaks of humour that I’ve ever seen. Day of the Beast starts off with a string of blackly comic happenings, which see such things as a man crushed by a cross and a priest pushing a performer off his perch. Amazingly, the director manages to keep the laughs coming throughout, while at the same time ensuring that the apocalyptic tones aren’t lost to the comedy side of the film. Personally, I didn’t think that much else could be done with the idea of the antichrist – but I’ve been well and truly proved wrong by this totally unique horror flick! The plot follows a priest who believes that he has found a secret code of some sort, and that he has to commit evil acts in order to get an audience with Satan himself, so that he can kill the Devil’s child, which he believes will be born on Christmas Eve. Aiding him in this quest is a drug-taking heavy metal fan, and the host of a paranormal TV series…

I’ve got to say that I’m really looking forward to seeing more of Álex de la Iglesia’s films, as this guy has an absolutely great sense of humour; and even though this movie is only half a comedy, it’s far funnier than many films designed only to make its audience laugh. The laughs are very dry indeed, and are guaranteed to appeal to people who appreciate jokes that are aimed at offending people. Aside from a great sense of humour and an interesting storyline, Day of the Beast also benefits from a plethora of great performances from a talented cast of Spanish actors. Álex Angulo, Armando De Razza and Santiago Segura are brilliant as the central threesome, and offset each other nicely with their defined and very different characters. While the film definitely is a comedy, it’s obvious that Álex de la Iglesia is a horror fan; as the atmosphere is morbid and suspenseful, and many scenes are extremely suspenseful and well laid out. The special effects are hokey in true demonic horror style, and the light use of them ensures that they work well when used. Overall, I don’t hesitate to call this a masterpiece. Day of the Beast is everything you could want from a cult horror movie and more!

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