13 Days of Christmas 1: The Day of the Beast

Posted: December 7, 2011 by Jenny Dreadful in Film, Reviews

I love Christmas horror movies. Sincere tributes to the season with unintentional scares, beloved holiday icons wielding knives, and horror flicks incidentally set on December 25th all have a special place in my heart. This is why Final Girl Support Group is presenting The 13 Days of Christmas, a celebration of seasonal splatter. I’m sure my admitted lack of discrimination makes my opinion suspect, but I’ll try to keep my love for trash in check. Let’s get started.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…A Hell Goat in a Pear Tree.

The Day of the Beast

My contributions to this article were originally written for Cinedelphia’s fantastic series of recommendations from the Philly film community. (My suggestion is featured in Part 2, but don’t neglect to catch up with Part 1.) An edited version is reposted here alongside thoughts from StayFrosty.

Jenny Dreadful: It pains me to tease the uninitiated with a film so difficult to legitimately acquire, but let’s start strong. My favorite Christmas horror movie is Álex de la Iglesia’s The Day of the Beast (1995).

Not unlike shriveled doomsayer Harold Camping (but significantly more willing to get his hands dirty), Roman Catholic priest Ángel Berriartúa has cracked an ancient code that foretells the birth date of the Antichrist; the beginning of the End. As a mockery to the Nativity, Satan’s spawn is due on Christmas Eve. The devout Ángel must commit evil acts and remake himself as a Satanist in order to attract the Devil’s attention, learn the location of the unholy birth, and stop the Apocalypse. His quest, involving earnest experiments with sin, death metal and occult rituals, is hilarious yet increasingly disturbing. It’s sadly out of print, but The Day of the Beast is a fun (and festive?) ride for viewers seeking twisted Christmas flicks. Happy holidays, everyone.  And Hail Satan.

Father Ángel and his companions, fried metalhead José María and sleazy TV personality Professor Cavan, attempt to perform a Satanic ritual.

JennyD covered the basic plot quite nicely, so I’ll skip all that.  There’s much to be enjoyed about this wacky little movie, but I’ll focus on the death metal angle.  Our priest character (who manages to be so endearing despite trying to be as evil as he can) goes into a music store hoping death metal will bring him closer to Satan, and instead he finds his partner in crime (literally) in Jose Maria, played brilliantly by Santiago Segura.  In fact, all of the characters are well thought out and well acted, giving the off-kilter world a sense of realism.  When you pick up an Álex de la Iglesia film, you can be almost positive you’re going to get something completely original that’s thoughtful, funny, horrific and even touching, and this film is no different.  Much like Last Circus (See our review here.), this one’s a keeper.  If only you could keep it!   Also, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention the absolutely awesome metal song that plays over the credits.  “Seis, seis, seis…..EL DIA DE LA BESTIA!”  Rock on, movie, rock on.

Jenny adds: Music video for said song including clips from the film below. You’re welcome, readers.

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