• Day Of The Beast (Severin Films) UHD Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: March 30th 2021.
    Director: Álex de la Iglesia
    Cast: Álex Angulo, Armando De Razza, Santiago Segura
    Year: 1995
    Purchase From Severin Films

    Day Of The Beast – Movie Review:

    Directed and co-written by Álex de la Iglesia, 1995’s El día de la bestia (Day Of The Beast in English) opens when a priest named Cura (Álex Angulo) tells an associate of his a secret (we don't hear it) inside a church sanctuary. After the secret is told, the massive cross at the front of the church falls down and kills the associate.

    From here, we follow Cura as he heads into Madrid, not quite sure yet what he's up to, though we see him commit various petty crimes. When he heads into a heavy metal record shop (a great scene that allows you to play games like ‘spot the Manowar!’) looking for the most evil music he can find, he strikes up a conversation with the cleark, José María (Santiago Segura), who hips him to an unsigned band called Satannis who are performing the next night, Christmas Eve, at a bar called Hell. José María also gives him the name of a hostel where Cura rents a room for the night. As the story evolves, Cura and José María decide to enlist the help of a TV personality named Cavan (Armando De Razza) who presents himself as a master of the occult. After breaking into his house and forcing him to help them, it turns out that Cura has figured out exactly when The Antichrist is going to be born - he just needs Cavan's help summoning Satan himself and figuring out where, so that he can stop it and save the world.

    A very effective mix of both humor and horror, Day Of The Beast is, while very much a product of its time, a very entertaining and wickedly creative movie. The film moves at a nice pace, never dull and always intriguing, and while the green screen and video effects show the limitations of the era in which the picture was made, it hardly matters when you’re able to sit down and enjoy a film as wildly creative as this one is. Taking pot shots at religion, celebrity culture, society’s strange willingness to go along with charlatans acting under the guise of spirituality and horror movie clichés, Day Of The Beast holds up well more than a quarter century since the picture was made, a testament to director Álex de la Iglesia’s talent and creativity.

    The film also features some seriously great performances. Álex Angulo, who is probably best known for appearing in Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, is the perfect casting choice for the lead. He’s got this oddly casual vibe to his work that just suits the part well despite the gravity of the situation that he’s dealing with. He’s as likeable as he is rascally, and he brings a warmth and humor to the part that goes a long way towards making this film as enjoyable as it is. Santiago Segura as the acid-dropping metalhead is also a blast to watch, feeling freakishly right for the part and looking very much like that guy you got cornered by at the bar the last time you went to a metal show at a local club. He has a vibe of authenticity to him that sells it, and that makes a big difference. Italian actor Armando De Razza fills out the main cast well, playing the arrogant Cavan pretty much perfectly. His character has the biggest arc in the film, and it’s interesting to see him go from self-serving to genuinely caring about the state of the world once he realizes it’s all about to hit the fan.

    Day Of The Beast – UHD Review:

    Day Of The Beast arrives on UHD from Severin Films on a 66GB disc in a new 4k transfer of the original 35mm negative framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p with HDR enhancement. There are a couple of spots where grain seems to sort of freeze in the background for a second or two and some of the green screen and video effects don’t necessarily benefit from the higher resolution that the format offers, but overall this looks really nice. Detail is noticeably improved over the included Blu-ray disc, especially in close up shots, and colors have better definition as well. Black levels are excellent and shadow detail is also stronger than what the 1080p presentation can provide. There are no noticeable issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement to complain about here and compression artifacts are, thankfully, never an issue. The image is clean throughout, save for a bit of visible print damage during the opening credits, and overall fans should be quite pleased with the video presentation on this release.

    Audio options are available in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 in Spanish, 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 in English and 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 in Spanish with optional subtitles provided in English only. The 5.1 track is the way to go with this one if you’ve got the hardware to handle it. You’re not always bombarded with rear channel activity but when the surround channels are used they’re very effective. The score is also spread out very nicely here as well. Dialogue is clean, clear and nicely balanced and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion. The white subtitles are clean, clear and easy to read. All in all, the movie sounds very good.

    The UHD is barebones but the included Blu-ray (which uses the same new 4k transfer) includes a nice selection of extra features starting with Heirs Of The Beast, a feature length documentary made by Diego López and David Pizarro that covers ‘the making and cultural impact’ of Day Of The Beast. At eighty-one-minutes in length, this very thorough piece includes interviews with Cine de San Sebastian Film Festival Director Jose Luis Rebordinos, SITGES Film Festival Director Angel Sala, critic Quim Casas, Musician Cesar Strawberry, actor El Gran Wyoming, actor Armondo De Razza, actress Nathalie Sesena, actress Terele Pavez, photographer Pipo Fernandez, actor/producer Santiago Segura, filmmakers and technical types like Jaume Balaguero, Nacho Cerda, Pablo Berger, Enrique Urbizu, Arturo Garcia, Jorge Guerricaechevarria, Paco Plaza, Andres Vicente Gomez, Flavio Martinez Labiano, David Marti, de la Iglesia himself anda few others. The documentary has some great behind the scenes clips and photos throughout as it covers the dry spell that Spanish cinema was going through in the 80s, how things turned around when de la Iglesia and a few other upstarts started making genuinely inspired work, the importance of short films, moving on to genre features, influences that worked their way into films that were being made around this time and how Day Of The Beast really got the ball rolling not just for de la Iglesia but for Spanish genre cinema as a whole. They cover the importance of the Madrid setting and how both priests and metalheads are stereotypes from the city, the symbolism that de la Iglesia uses in his movies, the importance of the late Álex Angulo's acting in the film and lots, lots more. It’s a truly excellent piece that uncovers not just the history of Day Of The Best but the Spanish filmmaking scene around the time that the picture was made – it’s seriously interesting stuff, and very well put together on a technical level as well.

    Antichrist Superstar is a new interview with Director Alex de la Iglesia that clocks in at twenty-eight-minutes. He speaks here about having to follow up Accion Mutante, what the differences were in the production time for the two movies, influences that worked their way into Day Of The Beast, casting the film and the importance of his sister in doing so, how things have changed since the movie was made, almost getting Ministry for the soundtrack, his complicated relationship with religion, his love of heavy metal, what it was like on the shoot, shooting key scenes, shooting on location in Madrid and lots more.

    The Man Who Saved the World is a twenty-minute interview with Actor Armando De Razza who stats off by talking about where his career was in 1995 before then going on to cover how he came to do work in Spain, his singing career, connecting with Alex de la Iglesia, thoughts on the character he played in Day Of The Beast, how he got along with his co-stars, the locations used for the shoot, the makeup effects he had to endure, working with a live goat, what it was like on set, shooting the scene where his character falls, his thoughts on the film overall and more.

    Beauty and the Beast interviews Actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta for seventeen-minutes about her role playing Susanna (Cavan’s top-heavy girlfriend) in the feature. She talks about getting the part through her agent, leaving Italy after the success of Il Postino, working with de la Iglesia, thoughts on her character, how much she enjoyed playing the character, the success of Day Of The Beast, what it was like on set and how cold it was, getting along with her co-stars, how helpful everyone was during the shoot, her thoughts on seeing the finished film and plenty of other details about her career and experiences working on this picture.

    Shooting The Beast gets Director Of Photography Flavio Martínez Labiano in front of the camera for three-minutes to talk about working with de la Iglesia, the director's sense of humor, shooting on location in Madrid, the quality of the storyboards that de la Iglegia provided, trying to portray the 'real' Madrid and working with the different cast members.

    Severin has also included Mirindas Asesinas, a 1990 short film by Alex De La Iglesia that runs just over twelve-minutes. This opens with some very familiar sounding music over the opening credits as a newscaster warns women not to go out alone after dark. From here, we see the story of man who shows up at a bar and orders a softdrink (a Mirinda). He then gets into an altercation with the bartender when he wants to charge him for it. When he shoots the bartender dead, he then serves a Mirinda to another patron, and it spirals out of control from there when someone else shows up and asks for a Coke. It’s an amusing black and white picture that foreshadows the dark sense of humor that would become such a bit part of the director’s work. It’s also interesting to see Álex Angulo play the lead here as well.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are two trailers, menus and chapter selection options. Severin has packaged this release with some nice reversible cover as well as a slipcover.

    Day Of The Beast - The Final Word:

    Severin Films’ UHD/Blu-ray Combo Pack release of Day Of The Beast is a really strong one, presenting this wickedly entertaining picture in a very nice presentation and with a host of excellent supplements. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Day Of The Beast Blu-ray screen caps!