The Day of the Beast (1995)

One of the whackier new age ideas of the 1990s was the "Bible Code".  Supposedly discovered by an Israeli scholar, it was supposed to be a cryptographic and mathematic code hidden within the Torah, the idea being that if it could be properly deciphered then it would lead to revelations about life, the universe and everything.  It gained quite a bit of popularity before falling out favor, both because math is not that interesting to most people, and to figure it out one needed to speak ancient Hebrew or at least have some familiarity with how the letters of their alphabet combined to work out the code.  Otherwise, it was just another prophet saying that we should trust them because they know what they're doing. 

This wasn't the first time the idea of a hidden code in the Bible had come up.  Johannes Trithemius, who is referenced in The Day of the Beast, is considered the father of modern cryptography, but in the 16th century was suspected of practicing magic and pursuing heretical practices.  His books were banned by the Catholic Church, an edict that changed in 1990 when they were re-evaluated and the findings were his own work was not heresy, but still about as useful as the Bible Code.  Still, the idea that there are hidden messages gives some framework to this action comedy about a priest who figures out a unique way of trying to stop the Antichrist. 

It is Christmas Eve in 1995 and Father Angel (Álex Angulo) has arrived in Madrid on a mission.  By working out a hidden code within the Book of Revelations he has figured out when the Antichrist will be born and in what city - which is within hours and in Madrid.  The only thing he lacks is the exact location.  He believes the way to find it is to betray his vows and do as much evil as possible including selling his soul to Satan.  Problem is, he has no real grasp of the world outside his small rural university, although he has some idea of how to be annoying and despicable. 

One of the ideas he has is to look for messages in "Satanic" music, and to that end he visits a record store to buy some heavy metal albums.  The clerk, Jose Maria (Santiago Segura), is happy to oblige, and even lets the priest know his mother (Terele Pávez) runs a hostel.  Angel soon hears of a television psychic named Professor Cavan (Armando De Razza) and kidnaps him with Jose's help.  At first Cavan thinks the priest is crazy but, after an attempt to invoke the Devil bears unexpected fruit, revises his opinion.  The three begin to work together to find out where the birth will take place so they can save the world. 

One would think that a horror movie in which a priest attempts to do as much evil as possible would turn into an unwatchable rape-a-thon, even slipping into what priests have garnered a reputation for over the years.  Álex de la Iglesia, to his credit, is not interested in that type of movie.  I won't spoil some of the other things that happen but, rest assured, this may be a movie about the coming of the Antichrist but it is also a rather twisted comedy, not a violent exploitation film.  There are some uncomfortable moments featuring a band of racists beating up immigrants and lighting the homeless on fire, but like most things in the movie it does serve the story. 

Álex Angulo, Santiago Segura and Armando De Razza are a great comedic team and, between the three, there are several slapstick sequences that work.  While I found myself dwelling on the Antichrist story from what I understand is that the subtitles don't do the movie justice, which is another reason that at some point I would really like to learn how to speak Spanish.  Still, even without getting all the jokes, the movie is a unique take on apocalyptic Biblical fiction, and it keeps the viewer interested throughout.  It also has a satisfying ending, being a welcome reprieve from similar movies with lots of ideas but no thought given on how to bring it to a close.

The Day of the Beast (1995)
Time: 99 minutes
Starring: Álex Angulo, Santiago Segura, Armando De Razza
Director: Álex de la Iglesia



  1. I think I saw a special on the Bible Code on the History Channel a long time ago--when it was still the History Channel. I think they showed how it "predicted" 9/11 and other events, though predicting things after the fact isn't much of a prediction. Or that might have been one of those on Nostradamus. Or maybe both? Anyway, sounds like a unique way to stop the antichrist.

    1. Definitely both. For once I would like to see a real prediction instead of some sort of code that is interpreted years after the event happened.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)