Severin makes a pact with dark forces to deliver fans Alex de la Iglesia's bleak pitch-black horror-comedy The Day of the Beast to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with diabolically great results. When a priest figures out the birth of the Antichrist is nigh, he travels to Madrid to commit all kinds of sin in order to summon the Devil and prevent the birth. With an excellent native 4K transfer with HDR10, terrific audio, and informative bonus features - The Day of the Beast earns a devilishly Highly Recommended release.
Read our 1080p Blu-ray Review
For generations, the prophecy of the Apocalypse and the rise of the Antichrist have confused and divided theologians. But Father Angel Cura (Alex Angulo) has cracked the code and deciphered the date of the birth of the son of the devil and the End of Days. Traveling to Madrid, Father Cura will commit any number of terrible sins with the help of Black Metal record shop worker Jose Maria (Santiago Segura) and T.V. psychic Cavan (Armando De Razza) to summon the Devil and stop the birth of the Antichrist.
If you haven't been introduced to the works of Alex de la Iglesia, his movies are not for the faint of heart. If you don't have a black biting sense of humor and take things entirely too seriously, his films - and The Day of the Beast - may break you. This is about as dark as black comedy can get and if you're not laughing within the opening scene, the insanity to follow probably won't turn you. This is a movie that aims to strip away the serious overtones of strict religious and philosophical beliefs and highlight the idea that some things probably shouldn't be taken literally. Father Cura is so invested in cracking a code - where there may not even be a code - he's concocted a near fool-proof answer. But Cura could well be the fool and the whole thing a delirious fever dream.
What I take away from this movie are the dangers of going whole hog into a belief system. While religiously geared, this film's ideas can be hit at anything from politics to metaphysics to deep conspiracy theory. When you get to that place where you spin any counterargument as the opposite of a negative being a truth, then you've gone so deep into the well that you can't come back from it. Cura could be right, but there's ample evidence he could be very wrong and blind to the actual truth and he's now dragging other people down into his world. Again, The Day of the Beast is a pitch-black satire. It's taking some strong shots at a lot of targets and most of the time it's pretty damn hilarious.
To that end, the Alex de la Iglesia's style isn't for everyone. The first film of his I ever saw was 2010's The Last Circus and putting it positively I'd call that a bat-shit crazy movie. Iglesia's movies are often like stepping into a fever dream and not sure how to get the hell out. Stuff just happens and you gotta go with it or go insane trying to figure it out. Over the last few years, I've dug into his back catalog here and there. Most of his films are pretty good, very imaginative, and stylish. Some feel oddly out of reach and I just couldn't get into them. In contrast, The Day of the Beast is at least narratively focused with Iglesia's penchant for near-constant manic energy. It gets nuts, but it follows a throughline that's easy to follow. Whether or not you enjoy the journey is entirely a different topic of conversation.
This was my first real true dedicated sitdown viewing of The Day of the Beast. I previously tried watching it while I jockeyed the counter at Odd Obsession Video in Chicago a few years ago. It's just too wild and weird of a movie to watch distracted so I didn't feel like I was giving it the due attention that day. You really have to sit with this one to fully enjoy it.
And as I said, if you're not laughing inside the first few moments of the movie, the rest of the ride probably isn't for you. The punchline of the opening scene is the perfect indication of everything to follow. I was cracking up at the sight of a Catholic priest dragging a drugged woman to his room so he could get some of her blood for a satanic ritual and the insane violence to follow.
Through it all, the cast delivers an amazing set of performances. The late great Alex Angulo is terrific as Father Cura delivering deadpan and physical humor with grace. He's doing horrible things but he genuinely believes he's saving the world and there's something delightfully funny about his efforts. Then we have Santiago Segura as the lovable but dim Jose Maria who just goes along for the ride. After that, we have Armando De Razza as the popular T.V. psychic Cavan - the man who seems to be the only rational one of the bunch but then falls deeper into Cura's quest.
The Day of the Beast isn't for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I tend to have to review movies absurdly early in the morning to give them my full attention and this was a hell of a way to wake up. Still half asleep with only one cup of coffee in me I dove into this one head first without knowing too much about it beyond the main plot. It took mere moments for it to grab my full attention and I got a kick out of it. If dark horror-comedy is your bag, The Day of the Beast should be on your list.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Day of the Beast arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray in a two-disc 4K UHD + Blu-ray set from Severin. Pressed on a BD-66 disc, the discs are housed in a traditional two-disc black case with slipcover and reversible insert artwork. The disc loads to an animated main menu with traditional navigation options. None of the bonus features are found on the 4K disc and only on the included 1080p disc.
Severin has long done an amazing job bringing obscure treasures to disc with impressive A/V presentations and they're truly doing the lord's work with this 4K UHD Blu-ray of The Day of the Beast. This isn't traditionally a "beautiful" looking movie or one that the average collector would deem "worthy" of the level of work they put into this show, but if you're a fan you're in for a treat.
The Day of the Beast is a film of its era - budget and technological limitations of the time show their restraints, but so much of this film is so damn beautiful. The opening of the film with Cura kneeling before the altar with his fellow priest detailing his plan is a perfect example of the transfer's best attributes. Impressive facial clarity, clothing patterns, and production design work are all appreciable with this excellent native 4K transfer. Film grain is organic and nicely rendered, some dark sequences can be a bit heavier but nothing unsightly - no signs of any digital smoothing.
A measured HDR10 application enhances the visuals offering bold beautiful colors with terrific primary pop. Whites are bright without blooming issues and black levels are spot on with deep inky blacks and terrific image depth. The issue with this transfer is an unavoidable one and that's with the film's many low-rez visual effects. Early CGI backgrounds and creature effects are blended together in what looks like standard-definition (at best) quality. Color shifts, black levels tend to crush, and the image flattens. Now, this is a cooked-in issue. Without doing a major and expensive overhaul of the visual effects in league with the efforts to restore something like Star Trek: The Next Generation - this could not look any better than it does here.
For an early 90s film made on a modest budget that really only survives as a cult film, Severin delivers an excellent restoration for The Day of the Beast. While the visual effects are a hurdle, this release shows that there's really no excuse anymore for any of the major studios to not release a title on the format and give it their best effort.
Both the 4K UHD Blu-ray and 1080p Blu-ray arrive with the holy trinity of audio options - a Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix, and an English dubbed DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. In truth, all of these tracks are excellent. If you're not in the mood for subtitles, the dubbing for this film isn't half bad and actually has pretty decent voice work for the actors. Ideally, you'll choose one of the Spanish mixes as they sound the most natural to the film. Levels are spot on without issues. Scoring adds mood to the show. The 5.1 track offers some great atmosphere with solid surround placement and activity. The 2.0 mix is strong in its own right but doesn't quite hit the nail as hard.
Severin didn't skimp on the bonus features for this one either. To front things off, we get the feature-length documentary Heirs of the Beast that delves into the history of the making of the film as well as the climate of making a movie like this in Spain during that time period. Absolutely do not skip this one, really makes you appreciate that this film was even able to get made at all. After that, we get some informative cast and crew interviews, a short, and trailers. All in all a solid package of bonus materials to keep you occupied for a few hours. All bonus features are on the 1080p Blu-ray disc
Fans of pitch-black horror comedies have a lot to celebrate with Severin's excellent release of Alex de la Iglesia's The Day of the Beast. This is a delightfully hilarious movie with a devilish sense of humor. It's a wild psychedelic adventure with a great cast and a smart script. I'm glad I was finally able to set down and fully appreciate this one because it's become a new favorite in the collection. Severin's 4K UHD Blu-ray is another top-tier effort from a boutique label that easily rivals and outshines the efforts of the major studios. With releases like this, collectors should stay busy for years struggling to add more shelf space for more great titles. Highly Recommended.