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Day Of The Beast Review

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A Basque priest becomes convinced, after intense study of the Bible, that the Antichrist is going to be born in Madrid on Christmas day. Desperate to find the child, he tries to summon the devil by committing a steadily escalating series of sins…

★★★★

Alex De La Iglesia's first film Accion Mutante was one of those near miss efforts that would really like to be a cult movie but tries just a tad too hard. This follow-up, though, is a vast improvement - a comedy which manages to parody The Omen, indulge in well-timed farcical running-around and take pot-shots at everything from Satanic Heavy Metal through TV paranormal hucksterism to Spanish modern architecture.

After close textual study of the Bible and a brush with a falling crucifix, a gentle priest Angel (Angulo) realises that the Anti-Christ is due to be born in Madrid this Christmas Day. In order to be best placed to destroy the Beast, Angel resolves to get in with the Devil by becoming a major league sinner, but his trail of escalating crimes - stealing the wallet of a dying man while giving him his last rites - fails to provoke an infernal manifestation. However, Angel soon hooks up with hulking biker Jose Maria (Segura), and Professor Cavan (De Razza), a TV psychic, both of whom are eventually persuaded to join the crusade.

The situations get nicely crazier, but perhaps the film overdoes the pell-mell pacing of the gags - like when Angulo botches his attempt to shed the virgin blood of his landlady's hysterical daughter or when our three heroes (The Three Stupid Men in this inversion of the Nativity) dangle from a huge neon sign tripping on LSD having been driven out of the window by a demonic presence.

Though it falters somewhat at the climax, this has a lot going for it. While Accion Mutante suffered from its meanness of spirit, Day Of The Beast has a lot of heart thanks to Angulo's tremulous, sympathetic performance as the mild-mannered man of God who has to become a sinner overnight.