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Fantastic Spanish Horror/Comedy – EL DÍA DE LA BESTIA

EL DÍA DE LA BESTIA (DAY OF THE BEAST) is a whole lot of fun from one of the greatest directors you’ve never heard of.

One of my favorite directors is Álex de la Iglesia, a man who has languished in relative obscurity despite having directed a number of masterpieces over the past couple of decades (Accion Mutante, El Crimen Ferpecto, La Communidad). His work combines the satirical edge of Luis Buñuel with the visceral excitement of Peter Jackson while delivering high-concept entertainment unlike any being produced today. In anticipation of the long-awaited release of his English-language debut, The Oxford Murders, I thought I’d review one of his earlier works, El Día De La Bestia, a.k.a. Day of the Beast (1995), which tells the tale of a preacher named Anjel (played by Alex Angulo) who unlocks the date of the Apocalypse and sets out to stop it. He reasons that as a man of the cloth, his sins count double or even triple, so his plan is to sin as much as he can, thereby placing himself in Satan’s good graces – a strategic position from which he can kill Satan’s newborn child. So off he goes, committing one hilarious sin after the other, eventually enlisting the aid of a dumb-as-a-rock, heavy-metal obsessed wannabe Satanist named Jose Maria (played by Santiago Segura). Though Anjel knows the time of the birth, he does not know the location, so he and his bumbling cohort set out to kidnap a pompous TV occultist named Cavan (Armando De Razza), who they believe can decipher the location of the birth. Part of the fun is watching each of these characters get abused, as they’re dropped from buildings, burnt, tied up, shot and punched in the face so often that it verges on slapstick. And underlying the copious amounts of action, comedy and fantastic special FX you’ll find an oftentimes thoughtful examination of society and the true nature of evil. It all ads up to a fulfilling viewing experience across the board, and one that I highly recommend – just don’t watch too many trailers, as a few give away some of the funniest, most surprising parts (the one I’ve posted contains no spoilers but is Spanish language only – take that, Arizona!)

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