Coffin Joe Collection
May 26th 2011 02:26
Coffin Joe terrorises a small town whilst operating as the local undertaker, which is a front for his nefarious activities. This is the bad man’s introduction, his appearance in black, with flowing cape, top hat, lycanthropic eyebrows, and hideously long fingernails. He dabbles with supernatural forces, taunts the locals, and scoffs at their religious beliefs (in one memorable scene Coffin Joe enters a bar on Holy Friday and demands to eat a lamb cutlet, much to the disdain of the locals, he responds with violence).
Shot on what looks like the smell of an oily rag in black and white and released in 1964 At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul has a spare and striking atmosphere. Despite its limitations the imagery lingers, especially that of Coffin Joe and his witchy cackle. His obsessive hunt for the perfect woman and the supernatural energy he conjures eventually overwhelms him, but despite his ocular injuries he survives to continue his quest.
The sequel, released in 1967, and mostly in black and white, picks up directly after the first movie. The production values are of the same low fidelity, but invested with much passion. Coffin Joe has made a miraculous recovery, much to his dark pleasure. He can continue his search, and he makes up for lost time by hypnotising and abducting six women. He then subjects them to horrifying tests to see if they are pure enough; tarantulas are set loose while the women sleep and they crawl all over them, then most of them are locked in a pit full of snakes while Coffin Joe looks on from a bedroom hole above the cell where he amorously tests the sixth woman.
Unnecessarily longer than the first movie, but filled with more nightmarish imagery This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse features a fantastic ten-minute sequence in vivid outlandish colour when Coffin Joe is swallowed up by cemetery earth and falls into Hell. “Lost in a labyrinth of egoism and dominated by an imaginary power: the faith in the immortality of the spirit.” The only truth of life for Coffin Joe is the immortality of blood! Weird electronic “science fiction” sounds emanate.
Man will only find truth when he searches for truth, and in this experimental study of perversion and suggestion Coffin Joe features as a figure of extreme manipulation masquerading under the cloak of psychotropic narcotic use. A faux-documentary, Shining Light in the Dark, uses the appearance of LSD and hashish use to project the concept of overt suggestive power that is really the manipulation of an existing terror a la Coffin Joe.
According to Coffin Joe women are the willing slaves and instruments used through the millennium, yet cannot be tainted by man’s evil stench. There is an apparent love/hate relationship going on that is skirted and swerved around, disguised by fear and paranoia, abuse and depravity. The last half and hour of Awakening of the Beast, which was made in 1969, but banned by the military censorship regime of Brazil for twenty years, is in wild, garish colour. It’s a difficult movie to penetrate, but much of the imagery and editing is more than a little curious.
Made in 2001 this fascinating documentary reveals the man behind the Coffin Joe mask, the poet of the macabre. A director described as a cross between Russ Meyer and Luis Bunuel meets Alejandro Jodorowsky. Mojica Marins wasn’t the shrewdest of businessman and as such, despite his movies doing great upon release (unless they were banned), he never made the riches many of his colleagues expected him to make. But they also admit to understanding that Mojica’s methods were never going to serve him well financially.
Coffin Joe Collection (4-disc set, including additional director interviews) is courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment, many thanks!
Here’s the trailer to At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul:
Here’s the trailer to This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse:
Here’s the first ten minutes of the doco The Strange World of Mojica Marins:
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