El día de la bestia aka The Day of the Beast (1995)

directed by Alex de la iglesia
sogetel/iberoamericana films producciÓn/m.g. srl/canal+ (EspaÑa)

I’m not certain this Spanish production qualifies as “horror,” even if the plot consists of a seemingly fallen priest committing violent crimes in the hopes of negating the birth of the Antichrist. Alongside a slacker “death metal” adherent and a bullshit mystic television seer. On Christmas Eve. (The tale takes a little longer to cohere than that synopsis might indicate, or at least it did for me.) Although a bloody account, any terror involved is confined mainly to the implicit realm, or attributable to a mysterious roving gang destroying property and killing people while urging the authorities – presumably – to “limpia Madrid.” (“Clean it up.”) Drugs, semiserious bodily harm, mayhem and some second-tier FX complete the recipe. It’s fun, the comedy is deadpanned about as well as possible, and certain juxtapositions add just the right touch. Alongside the sacrilege. Make it a holiday tradition!

why did i watch this movie?

See previous entry, and sprinkle liberally with Luciferian intrigue. Plus, I’ve been learning Spanish for over a year, and every little bit helps.

should you watch this movie?

Where ELSE are you gonna see the Three Wise Men gunned down by police? (You don’t have to answer this question if you’re in the “United” States, for fear of reprisal.)

highlight and low point

This is no game. Ángel (the priest, of course) and José María (the ne’er-do-well metaller) make for a great duo, and the uneasy triumvirate they form with “Professor” Cavan also is fruitful. The intricate layers of symbols and references belie the film’s breezy, slapstick nature, as does what ultimately proves to be a rather somber final series of notes. Many, many aspects of modernist commercial existence are targeted for commentary, however oblique.

rating from outer space: B

Tumbbad (2018)

directed by rahi anil barve with adesh prasad
sohum shah films/colour yellow productions/eros international/film i vÄst/filmgate films

This period piece spans the era when India transitioned into independence, presenting a kind of fable steeped in mythology and the dark underbelly – the womb, actually – of religion. As much a fantastical work as anything else, it’s surprising to find it took six years to complete, because it’s of a unified vision and weaves its story powerfully. I guess the best way to describe its genre would be “magical realism,” as its tale of several generations of one family’s struggle with and against a curse of sorts remains grounded in actuality while having at its core a bizarre relationship with the otherworldly. It’s engrossing throughout, captivating even, despite (or in spite of) its capricious and largely unlikable main character – a bit like There Will Be Blood, perhaps. At worst, it’s intriguing, and at its best it can be spectacular.

why did i watch this movie?

Described as a story about a goddess who created the universe and the problems that arose when people unwisely began to worship her firstborn son, who is effectively exiled and imprisoned, it sounded like a unique experience … and it is, even as at least part of that description isn’t altogether accurate.

should you watch this movie?

You’ll need to set aside some time, as it’s an immersive experience.

highlight and low point

I didn’t particularly care for the ending, as it doesn’t seem to hew closely enough to the depiction of the essential powers at play throughout the rest of the picture – and I like it even less now that I have learned that a sequel is planned. (Sigh.) The film looks great overall, I mean it’s visually arresting, and it carries various of its conceits to their full extent.

rating from outer space: B+