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“Invitation to Dance - It’s a Dance. And sometimes they turn the lights off in this ballroom. But we’ll dance anyway, you and I. Even in the Dark. Especially in the Dark. May I have the pleasure?” --- Stephen King ::::::::::: MY CRITERIA FOR DISCUSSION ENCOMPASSES THE HORROR GENRE AND BEYOND, SO I USE THE TERM "NIGHTMARE MOVIES". SPOILERS CAN OCCUR WITH OR WITHOUT WARNING. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Coffin Joe Collection

May 26th 2011 02:26
Coffin Joe DVD cover art
Brazilian maverick filmmaker Jose Mojica Marins practised his own form of movie witchcraft, tackling religion, sexuality and mortality with little regard to convention or good taste, yet he possessed a distinct cinematic style, a strong, imaginative vision, and a twisted existential voice, and although his movies weren’t seen by audiences outside of Brazil for many years after the movies were made (and they were often banned in Brazil as well), Mojica Marins garnered a feverish following of fans.

This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse movie poster art
He began making Super-8 and 16mm movies in his parents backyard. After he moved out of home he bought a disused warehouse and transformed it into a film studio. It was here where he shot many of his early features. The character he is most remembered for is his diabolical sadistic creation, Zé do Caixão (Joseph of the Coffin). When Something Weird Video first distributed his movies in North America they took the liberty of abbreviating the name to Coffin Joe, and it stuck.

This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse
Coffin Joe was a strange man indeed; a loner utterly obsessed with finding the perfect woman; a woman without feeling, no love, no hate, simply pure so that she can bear him a son that would provide him with the immortality he craves. Coffin Joe’s concepts of good and evil go beyond normal comprehension, and his quest pushes him into the realm of darkness. He finds it necessary to be abjectly cruel to women (and to men also, but mostly women); degrading them, terrifying them, torturing them, and if they don’t live up to his idea of the perfect woman, then they must perish. Coffin Joe appears to be a misogynist, and for all intensive purposes his arrogance and behaviour confirms this, but there is something much more complex at work toiling away in the mind of this perverse and megalomaniacal undertaker.

This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse
Mojica Marins began a trilogy in 1964 tracing Coffin Joe’s pursuit for a superior woman to deliver him the perfect son. The first two he produced few years apart in the mid 60s, the third, Embodiment of Evil he didn’t make until 2008. Umbrella Entertainment have released a deluxe four-feature edition; The Cult Tour Guide of Terror – Coffin Joe Collection, encompassing the first two movies of the trilogy, plus a surreal exploration of “drug-addled” morality and mortality that uses Coffin Joe as a pawn of psychological manipulation, and a documentary that focuses on Jose Mojica Marins’ bizarre film career and the character that has occupied so much of it.

At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul movie poster
À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma (At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul)
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.

This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse movie poster art
Esta Noite Encarnarei no Teu Cadáver (This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse)
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.

Awakening of the Beast movie poster art
O Ritual dos Sádicos (Awakening of the Beast)
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.

Jose Mojica Marins Coffin Joe
Maldito - O Estranho Mundo de José Mojica Marins (The Strange World of Mojica Marins)
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.

Awakening of the Beast
He courted controversy like a pyromaniac plays with fire, and a cloud of bad luck was never too far from his movie shoot. Oddly enough many people connected with his movies died, but as Mojica was quick to point out, never on his set. The documentary takes a turn for the seriously perverse when Mojica reveals that due to his movies receiving such terrible distribution (and frequently heavily cut) he was forced to resort to a more base (but a guaranteed sell), level of filmmaking: pornography. He and one of his regular actors talk candidly about a woman and a very enthusiastic German Shepherd!
This Night I Will Posses Your Corpse

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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