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Bonus Reviews: The Day of the Beast (1995) and A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
Horror Bulletin Bonus for Week 149
For this week’s bonus films, we’ll look at a couple of surprising good Christmas-based films. The first is the subtitled, Spanish-language “The Day of the Beast” from 1995, and the next is “A Christmas Horror Story,” starring none other than William Shatner.
Don’t forget, the first week of each month, we publish ALL our reviews, including the bonus content in our monthly “Horror Bulletin” print magazine (also available as an ebook). If you don’t have time to read the website or email, here’s one more option for you! The December issue will go on sale in early January!
The Day of the Beast (1995)
• Directed by Alex de la Iglesia
• Written by Jorge Guerricaechevarria, Alex de la Iglesia
• Stars Alex Angulo, Armando de Razza, Santiago Segura
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 39 Minutes (Spanish subtitled)
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
What’s a priest to do when he finds out the anti-Christ is really going to be born? Try to turn evil and find the devil so he can get in on the plan and foil it, of course. Father Cura embarks on a path that ends up being a wild adventure that just might end up saving the world. Or he’s going to die trying.
The nervous-looking priest goes into the cathedral as the bells ring. He does a confession. He hasn’t sinned, but he plans to commit all the sins he can. He’s been working on decoding a dark puzzle for years, and the other priest warns him to give it up. After some persuasion, the two priests decide to work together to battle the devil, but almost immediately one of them is squashed beneath a giant cross. Credits roll.
Father Cura arrives in Spain and immediately steals money from a beggar. He’s asked to do Last Rites over an accident victim, but he robs that man and tells him to burn in Hell. He sees an ad on TV about a psychic that can tell the future.
He wants to see the devil, so naturally, he goes into a heavy-metal record shop. He picks a record and tells the guy to play it backward. The man suggests Cura see a local group, Satannica, and gives him the address of the hostel where he stays.
Cura rents a room in the boarding house. He lights a cigarette and puts it out on the bottom of his feet. The racist old landlady says he shouldn’t have been allowed to stay, but money talks, and it is Christmas Eve.
Cura keeps seeing ads for Professor Cavan, psychic. Cura tries to steal a book by Cavan and is detained by mall security. He says that he must learn to do evil. He explains the code that he figured out. It’s a hidden message from Revelations. The message is a date for the end of the world. Cura then whacks the guy with an iron and runs off. On the way out, he keys all the cars in the parking lot.
Cura goes back to the boarding house and reads Cavan’s book. The guy from the record shop is Joe, and he feeds his naked grandfather LSD. Cura asks if Jose can summon the devil. Cura wants Jose to invoke the devil. He needs to sell his soul, but Cavan’s book won’t help.
On tonight’s episode of Professor Cavan’s show, The Dark Zone, he has a little eleven-year-old boy who claims to be the devil. Cavan does an exorcism on the boy on TV, and Cura watches the whole thing, believing all of it.
Cura and Jose follow Cavan home from the studio later. Cavan quickly comes to the conclusion that Cura is a lunatic. Cura knocks him out. When he comes to, Cura explains his whole theory to Cavan, who is tied to a chair. The Day of the Beast is today, Christmas Day. Tonight, before dawn if they don’t prevent it. Cura wants to sell his soul to the devil to find out where this will happen. He plans to fool the devil and kill the antichrist.
Cavan tells them to draw a pentagram and some more things to make it happen. He says that they need a maiden’s blood, and then Cavan’s girlfriend arrives. She soon falls down the steps and Cura drags her back up, one step at a time. Cavan lets them know that won’t work - she isn’t a maiden.
Cura goes home and drugs Mina, the landlady’s daughter. The landlady calls the police, but she doesn’t trust them, so she goes after Cura herself. She shoots Cura’s ear off, but he gets away with a cup of maiden blood.
Finally, Cura has all the ingredients that Cavan told him he’d need for a spell to summon the devil. They all eat the bread dipped in blood and LSD. They play the Satannica death metal tape. They do the ritual. Nothing happens, and Cavan laughs… until they see a big cockroach crawling across the floor. Then a goat. OK, that goat was the devil.
Cavan sends his girlfriend home, promising to call her tomorrow. He’s convinced now that maybe Cuna is onto something. Satan comes beating at their door so they have to climb out the window and down to the street. The police call it an attempted kidnapping of Professor Cavan.
Cavan goes to the studio and gets all his guys together to find the site where the antichrist will be born tonight. Cavan wants to do an emergency broadcast. “Everyone else has carols, we have the devil!” Says the producer.
Cura and Jose go to a seminar about Nostradamus. They quickly get thrown out. There’s a major shootout in the busy Christmas Eve shopping street, and soon they end up on a rampage.
Cura watches a bunch of racists set a black guy on fire in the street, and even he is freaked out by that. The man dies at Cura’s feet. The man turns out to be wearing a Satannica shirt, which Cura takes as a sign to go to the big concert tonight. Cura quickly gets beaten up and thrown out.
Jose sees the burning man as well, and he comes to the concert and finds Cura, unconscious in the restroom. He sees Cavan on TV making an announcement and calls into the station. Cavan thinks he found the place, but Cura just wants to go to jail and die. Cavan tells the world what’s going on, which would make for some fun Christmas Eve television, I’m sure.
Cavan leaves the studio and searches for Cuna. He also goes to the Satannica concert, which is now over. He picks up Cuna and Jose. That eleven-year-old on his show actually has the true marks of the devil. He was the real thing! He takes them to the evil building in the style of those marks, which must be of the devil.
They go inside and hear a baby crying. They get attacked by the same guys who set the man on fire earlier. Cavan and Jose get beaten up severely, but Cura sees the devil himself, a big, goat-like creature. The devil drops Jose off the roof. Cura goes downstairs and shoots the men who just set Cavan on fire.
Cura finds the baby and his family, all dead. He shoots the devil several times.
Nine months pass, and burned Cavan and Cura are living as homeless men in the park. They saved the world but cannot tell anyone.
This thing is loaded with dark humor and ridiculous situations. This just goes on and on and gets weirder every step of the way. It’s quite the… epic journey.
It’s twisted, and funny, and very well done. It’s a must-see Christmas film. I definitely recommend this— it’s in the running for the weirdest Christmas movie ever.
A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
• Directed by Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
• Written by James Lee, Sarah Larsen, Doug Taylor
• Stars William Shatner, George Buza, Rob Archer
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 39 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
A well-written anthology movie with a sort of double wraparound story. Bad things are happening at the North Pole. Bad things are happening around town. And the only thing holding it all together is a DJ getting drunker by the hour as the evening progresses…
It’s Christmas Eve at the North Pole. Santa goes out to the barn and talks to the reindeer. It looks like Santa’s seen better days; he’s a bloody mess. “It’s time,” he says, picking up his whip and ax. “Who’s there?” He demands.
Twelve hours earlier, Dangerous Dan addresses the town on his radio show. He’s all alone at the station, and he does his Christmas talk to the town of Bailey Downs.
Four teens, Dylan, Ben, Molly, and Taylor watch a video taken last year at a murder scene. It was some kind of ritualistic murder.
Caprice gives them the keys to the building and then leaves with her family for the winter trip. They go to grandma’s house, and she’s not happy to see them. Grandma has a statue of Krampus in her dining room. The creepy gardener explains all about Krampus. The statue breaks, and grandma gets really upset and tells them all to leave.
The other three head to the murder site to do an investigation. They do their recording and then hide from the principal, who is still there. They go to the basement to explore and find the murder spot.
Policeman Scott and his family trespass onto a farm to cut down a Christmas tree. Their son, Will, gets lost in the woods, and something gets him. No, wait, they find him hiding inside a tree. They load up their tree and go home. Scott was the cop who found the bodies last year, and it affected him psychologically.
Santa and the elves get ready for their big night. One elf, Shiny, doesn’t want cookies and gets really mean. He cuts his own hand and keels over, dead. After spraying all the other elves around him. Elves can’t die, right?
The three teens find themselves locked in the basement of the school. Back at Scott’s place, little Will isn’t acting normal. Dangerous Dan dedicates the next songs to the children who died in the massacre last year.
Something’s wrong with the elves at the North Pole. They’re all infected and becoming the walking dead. Santa knows who’s behind it all. Santa grabs his staff and cuts Jingle’s head off and throws Shiny through the window.
The teens start seeing ghosts. Will starts acting more and more strangely. Caprice’s family goes cross-country when their car gets stuck. Santa hunts down Shiny the elf and kills him. Dangerous Dan gets drunk on the air. And there’s reports of trouble at the mall where the charity food drive is being held. Things spiral further out of control…
Molly has been possessed by something in the school basement. Will is a changeling who attacks his family. Caprice’s family barricades themselves in a church and confesses their sins before being picked off one by one… by Krampus. Santa battles his own army of undead elves.
This takes place in the same town as “Ginger Snaps” since the producers made both films and said this was the case. It’s more or less an anthology where the different segments are intertwined and we jump back and forth between stories.
The creature effects and gore are all very well done, and the stories are fun too. The standout is, of course, Santa and his elves versus Krampus. Watching Santa behead all those elves is just inspiring.
Best Christmas food drive ever!
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