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Day of the Beast (El día de la bestia) (4K Ultra HD), The
Severin gives Alex de la Iglesia's black comedy/horror film The Day of the Beast its stateside Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD debut. This Spanish film evokes memories of Shaun of the Dead and Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's "Good Omens," and provides entertaining performances from Alex Angulo and Armando De Razza. Seemingly haven cracked the mysteries of the Bible, Father Angel Berriartua (Angulo) relays to another priest that he must commit great sins to ultimately save the world. That priest is ultimately crushed by a giant cross, and Angel then traverses Madrid, Spain, assaulting street performers and telling a dying man he hopes he will rot in Hell. Often funny and fairly accessible for American audiences, The Day of the Beast incorporates horror elements into the story as Angel enlists a record-store satanist, Jose Maria (Santiago Segura), and a television prophet, Professor Cavan (De Razza), to help him find and kill the Antichrist.
Angel believes he must sin so that he can sell his soul to the devil, allowing him access to the birth of the Antichrist on Christmas Eve. His initial, somewhat petty sins do not do the trick, and he runs into Jose at the record store he runs. Jose gives him metal-band recommendations, a place to stay at his mom's boarding house, and agrees to help him on his quest. The pair kidnap TV host Cavan, who makes schlocky programs about possessions and other unnatural occurrences, because the man has written a book about the devil. Cavan confesses that the entire book is a fraud, and that the rituals described within are a load of crap. Nevertheless, the men manage to summon a standing demonic goat, and the devil begins to taunt Jose, sending him close to madness. When the transfer of souls is cut short, Angel continues his tour of Madrid to find answers that may bring him closer to saving the world.
The plot of The Day of the Beast is fairly rambling, and enjoying the film often requires the viewer to dive into the madness and ask few questions. There are a number of funny sight gags, including a ridiculous brawl in which Angel takes on a bunch of cult-following goons. The trio of misfits has good chemistry, and the frequent pratfalls are entertaining. The back-and-forth banter keeps the narrative engaging, and de la Iglesia's direction allows the actors to stretch their comedic performances. This is also the kind of film that you're either going to laugh along with or not; viewers should figure out pretty quickly whether the religious satire is up their alley. Twenty-five years after its debut, The Day of the Beast remains a sharp black comedy with horror elements; fans of the genre will likely appreciate this one.
THE 4K ULTRA HD:
Severin's 4K disc includes the film at 1.85:1 with a 2160p/HEVC/H.265 transfer with HDR10. The film has been restored from the original camera negative. Fine-object detail is good, and the film retains a layer of grain throughout, with only a few spikes. Some of the optical effects do not necessarily benefit from the uptick in resolution, but the transfer is free of artificial manipulation. Colors benefit from the subtle HDR pass, as do black levels and shadow detail. Aside from some minor speckles, this is a clean, crisp image.
The disc includes the original Spanish soundtrack in 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio variants, and a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio English dub is also available. The surround mix offers greater ambience and more room for the score and effects to breathe. Dialogue is clear and nicely balanced with those effects. The track is completely free of distortion or crowding. Some of the more action-heavy scenes bring the surrounds to life, and the LFE chimes in when appropriate. English subtitles appear as the default option.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc release includes the 4K Ultra HD disc and a Blu-ray. The discs are packed in a black 4K case with two-sided artwork that is wrapped in a slipcover. All bonus content appears on the Blu-ray: Heirs of the Beast (1:20:53/HD) is an excellent, feature-length documentary that provides interesting information about the Spanish film industry; Antichrist Superstar (28:11/HD) is an interview with director de la Iglesia; The Man Who Saved the World (19:58/HD) is an interview with de Razza; Beauty and the Beast (17:09/HD) offers remarks from actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta; Shooting the Beast (2:36/HD) is a brief interview with DP Flavio Martinez Labiano; Mirindas Asesinas (12:28/HD); is a 1990 short film from the director; and the bonus material conclude with several Trailers (4:23/HD).
This 1995 Spanish horror black comedy from Alex de la Iglesia offers lively performances and religious satire, and, while the narrative takes a backseat to the characters' banter, The Day of the Beast should appeal to fans of the genre. Severin releases the film on 4K Ultra HD with a strong technical presentation and ample bonus content. Highly Recommended.
William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.