- El Día de la Bestia
- Day of the Beast (1995)Day of the Beast was the film that established Álex de la Iglesia internationally as a popular director after the promising Acción mutante, produced by the Almodóvar-owned El Deseo S.A. Although it follows the story line of many old horror films (with satanic motives culled from the likes of The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby, for instance), this was filtered through teenage humor. The film was the confirmation of a new mood in Spanish cinema, one that took inspiration from comics and the trashier reaches of popular culture (hard rock, demonic possessions, occultist television programs, action movies, gore, and violence), consciously removed from the "quality" tradition that dominated mainstream auteurist film projects in the 1980s. The story takes place in little more than 24 hours and follows a bereted Basque priest (Alex Angulo) who has discovered that the Antichrist is being born in Madrid, on Christmas day of 1995. To prevent this from happening, he is assisted by a heavy-metal freak (Santiago Segura) and an occult broadcast host (Armando De Razza).Rather than a coherent narrative following the principles of economy and necessity, De la Iglesia and co-scriptwriter Jorge Guerricaechevarría seem to work within the conventions of comics, stringing together a series of episodes, each focused on achieving certain effects, rather than contributing to the whole: the death of one protagonist's mother (Terele Pávez) seems to have no impact on him, and the whole idea of a satanic pact does not make much sense when one thinks about it. Neither does the resolution, in which a para-fascist group who have been killing beggars end up exterminating the Antichrist just as it is being born in the construction site of one of Madrid's most emblematic buildings. In an explosively postmodern vein, serious issues are undercut with ironic humor at every point: the connection between the names of hard rock groups and the lexicon of satanic rites is used time and again for comic purposes, as is the culture built around trash television.Action scenes were very carefully storyboarded, and the film was a success with younger audiences. With an estimated budget of 1.5 million euros, it made three times as much in a year. At the 1996 Goyas, it won in six categories, mostly technical but also including best director and best newcomer performer (Santiago Segura), and ultimately it jump-started the careers of De la Iglesia and Segura, who from then on became two of the most popular figures in Spanish film, developing a strong fan base.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.