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E.C. McMullen Jr.
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E.C. McMullen Jr.
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IN OTHER BOOKS
E.C. McMullen Jr.'s
CEDO LOOKED LIKE PEOPLE
in the anthology
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The Silver Scream
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GAHAN WILSON &
Featuring comics by
E.C. McMullen Jr.
Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
How often do you get a movie that gives you Satan worship, drug use, back-sliding priests, murder and the apocalypse all in one?
Okay, maybe too many times to even count.
I have the antidote to all of the cliché driven plot-lines that have come before (and after). No, I'm not talking about END OF DAYS. I'm speaking of Alex (ACCION MUTANTE) de la Iglesia's pièce de résistance - DAY OF THE BEAST. In a world where too many plot devices have over stayed their welcome, the now cult-hit DAY OF THE BEAST comes to turn them all on their head and provide a dark feast for the eyes and brain. Black satire it is - in the fullest sense.
The title sequence sets the tone as we watch as a priest - who has just had a serious exchange with the main character, Father Ángel - meets his doom in a most bizarre mishap in a church sanctuary.
Father Ángel (Álex Angulo: ACCION MUTANTE, MUERTOS de RISA) continues on his way and we follow him as he steals coins from a beggar, pushes a mime into a subway and lifts an ID from a man who has just been burnt to a crisp in a city fire.
What's wrong with this demure, but somewhat evil-doing priest?
We find out as the plot unfolds to include an acid eating grandfather, a General-Zod-looking (Armando De Razza) host of an exploitative tabloid TV show called The Dark Zone, a drug addled metal-head (Santiago Segura: ACCION MUTANTE), his brutish mother (Terele Pávez: EVIL EYE, EL NOCHE DE LA IRA, EL LABERINTO GRIEGO, 99.9) and strange and sundry secondary characters.
Father Ángel has decoded the book of revelations as a set of equations and has deciphered the date on which the antichrist is to be born. He sets out on a detective mission to find the place of birth and kill the child, thus saving the world from certain annihilation. All this is achieved through some very clever explanations and proceeds along through a frequently hysterical series of events, making it one of the more complex dark comedies I've seen in quite some time.
The storyline of DAY OF THE BEAST isn't too taxing unless you want it to be. You can take it for what it is, which is a varied farce that plays with the conventions of most people's expectations of evil and Satan worship (see: hilarious scene in which Father Ángel calls on a heavy metal store looking for the right music to lead him to Satan). Or you can take it as the slight social commentary that is presented by way of interwoven sub-plots involving roving vigilante gangs with "Clean up Madrid" slogans, television's inherent lies and fakery and the nature of belief.
There are points in the movie that even call into question the whole premise of the story. Make no mistake though. This is a horror movie in the same tradition as EVIL DEAD 2 (though with decidedly less gore) and some of the other more sly tongue-in-cheek horror flicks.
The cinematography (Flavio Martínez Labiano) is top notch with a wonderfully dark feel and there are some amazing shots reminiscent of Dario (SUSPIRIA, DEEP RED) Argento. There are also some startlingly precise chase scenes and some great slapstick moments and physical comedy that hearken back to the classic days of the silent era. The use of sound too is used to great effect, from the soundtrack to the time Father Ángel and his two cohorts engage in an absurdly elaborate invocation and experience . . . well, I shouldn't ruin it.
This film would best be viewed on a big screen TV with stereo sound (if not in a theater). I had neither of these. The video I watched was subtitled in English and letterboxed, but was a bit grainy and in the darker scenes I had to strain to see some parts of the screen. For any Spanish speaking viewers there are cleaner copies available. Alex de la Iglesia has made quite an exceptional film here. Much like his earlier film ACCION MUTANTE there is so much going on that it could easily withstand two viewings. This is definitely one of the best - the Christmas Day massacre is not to be missed. I give DAY OF THE BEAST five out of five shrieking girls!