THE DAY OF THE BEAST: A KITSCH TALE OF SATANISM
by Erika Tiburcio (*)
THE DAY OF THE BEAST is the debut of Alex de la Iglesia and tells the story of Angel (Álex Angulo), a priest who finds the date of the Apocalypse out. Along the movie, he comes across José María (Santiago Segura), a satanic clerk, and Profesor Cavan (Armando de Razza), an esoteric TV presenter, who both help him to defeat the Devil.
Alex de la Iglesia creates a satiric comedy horror film where many problems of Spain in the nineties are reflected. On the one hand, indiscriminate violence is portrayed in many places but, on the other hand, there are many prophets and sects that claim to be the authentic path of the salvation. In general, the atmosphere is displayed as an apocalyptic Madrid, where nobody minds the others. A perfect example is the scene when Cavan buys alcohol in a market and all staff is dead but he pays for it and goes out. Thus, the Earth is displayed as a kind of Hell, where Angel is the only character who voluntarily commits crimes in order to adapt himself to society. The rest of people do it because they think it is normal.
As all horror flicks, normalcy and monstrosity are the two main elements that come into play in this kind of films. That way, Alex de la Iglesia decides to reverse the image of good and bad citizens and break the stereotypes. The group “Limpia Madrid” is made up of a bunch of posh male adults who pretend to be normal people but enjoy with the suffering of beggars at night, while the heroes are a metal-head boy and a priest who behaves against the Christian morality rules. In addition to this, this world offers no redemption because nobody feels empathy for anybody and all the prophets and religions described are untrue. On top of that, modernity is dealt as the representation of the Devil on Earth. Hence, the “Puerta de Europa” aka. “Torres Kio” represents his symbol being one of the most important modern symbols in Madrid as well.
There is also a critique of Telecinco, a TV channel which is showed as a synonymous of Trash TV. “La Zona Oscura” is the TV show presented by Profesor Cavan and it is quite similar to American Talk Shows, focused on sensationalism. Even, the recording of the exorcism operated by Cavan results in an overacting of the actors, revealing this show as a farce. That way, entertaining would be more important than the truth. Indeed, nobody believes Angel when he tells his findings, while all religious liars have followers.
The movie style is quite peculiar because it is a mix of Kitsch and pop, where some frames are closed to comic book style. The hostel run by Jose María’s mother, Rosario, has a very typical Spanish style, above all the bedroom where Ángel stays. Also, Rosario is a caricature of a typical tetchy Spanish woman. Apart from that, the RPG games, especially Call of Cthulhu, were really important for Álex de la Iglesia as he says.
To sum up, THE DAY OF THE BEAST is a highly recommendable flick because of its unique style and its magnificent mix of comedy and horror. One of the best aspects of the films is the performance by Terele Pavez and the relationship among Cavan, José Luis and Ángel.
Erika Tiburcio (nancykrueger) lives in Madrid and works as a teacher. Currently she is doing her PhD thesis about the serial killer in American horror movies from Psycho to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. She loves horror movies, comic books, video games, etc. She has contributed to some Spanish websites and magazines like Phenomena Experience magazine and La Mansión del Terror and has written some articles for different international magazines like Serial Killer Calendar.