DVD: This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse / Esta Noite Encarnarei no Teu Cadáver (1967)

June 28, 2011 | By

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Film: Very Good/ DVD Transfer: Poor/ DVD Extras: Standard

Label: Anchor Bay (U.K.)/ Region: 2 (PAL) / Released: July 27, 2009

Genre: Horror / Supernatural / Coffin Joe

Synopsis: A recuperated Coffin Joe returns to his home town and selects through careful empirical testing the perfect mother of his uber-child.

Special Features: Part of a 5-disc, 9 film box set.




Between 1964 and 1967, at least within the exploitation and sexploitation genre, the level of sex and gore had been amped up in production such as Herschel Gordon Lewis’ Blood Feast (1964) and Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960), so in theory Jose Mojica Marins’ sequel to At Mignight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964) shouldn’t have been so shocking to audiences, except the creator of Coffin Joe went a little farther, blaspheming further Catholic virtues on film, and interpolating various levels of misogyny, nudity, and sadism.

The plot is frankly ridiculous, but at least Ze (Coffin Joe) experiences a wide character arc: after surviving the nasty spiritual attack at the end of the first film and somehow maintaining functional eyes previously seen a half inch outside of their sockets, he’s also acquitted of murder due to lack of evidence, and returns to his home town, where he seems to effortlessly glide back into the business he left in the hands of a hunchback with bad skin never seen in Part I.

Part II in Marins’ series mandates some suspension of disbelief simply because he’s changed the character: from a sonofabitch undertaker, Ze becomes a hybrid, influenced by characters from other franchises. No longer content with just becoming a Papa, he’s a Frankenstein with a hunchback who maintains a Fu Manchu torture chamber designed to sort through weaker female DNA and find that ideal woman – a creature unafraid of him, happy to be beaten, supportive of his evil ways, and loyal to the point of sacrificing herself for the successful birth of Marins’ superhuman progeny.

He’s the Devil, wanting to spawn his own Damien, and he kidnaps pretty women whom he locks up in a pretty dormitory in his castle-like basement, where they’re tested with 100 live tarantulas. The one unafraid of the eight legged freaks will be his ideal mate, and as they attempt to conceive a Baby Joe, Papa watches the losers die in a pit of snakes in a scenario worthy of the Marquis De Sade (if not inspired from one of his books).

Amazingly, Ze doesn’t consummate his new relationship; instead, he lets her go, respecting her non-fear of arachnids, and figuring there’s a better wench in town to fetch. (She will also come in handy later, willingly helping lure away his new love’s bodyguard in a complex subplot designed to kill his love’s brother in a sequence worthy of the Saw franchise.)

Just as things seem ideal, the angry spirits of the ‘snaked’ women tear him straight into hell, where he wanders through a menagerie of screaming half-naked souls being poked by Satan’s minions, if not whipped (including a pair of boobies and a pepe protruding from a cavern wall). Marins isn’t explicit per se; he walks a fine line between that raunchy domain and suggestiveness, but his Hell is a weird creation where it’s snowing, and the colours evoking an East German kiddie film if directed by Mario Bava.

When Ze returns back to his homestead (and black & white cinematography), he’s relieved it was all a terrible nightmare, until he discovers one of his victims was pregnant, and the townsfolk hunt him down like a mad Frankenstein monster, until he’s confronted by the remains of his sins (ah, those angry spirits), and is hastily weighs the possibility that the Holy Spirit may in fact exist.

According to the liner notes of the Fantoma DVD by Marins biographer Andre Barcinski, the recognition of a higher power was a consolation for Brazilian censors to prevent an outright ban, and the film went on to shock masses wanting more of Coffin Joe. Marins later parlayed the character on TV, and later in small roles and pseudo-sequels, but he didn’t’ fulfill his trilogy until 2008, where he once again had to come up with an explanation of Ze’s survival under God’s angry thumb.

Technically, Marins had more money and better camerawork, and even smidges of original score, but the sound recording and mix was again a mess of static and terrible volume levels. Like Part I, the Region 1 Fantoma DVD features the original scratchy mono sound mix, whereas the Region 2 Anchor Bay edition sports another phony stereo 2.0 mix that’s an even bigger mess than Part I: dialogue is barely audible, sound effects and music are barely perceptible unless there’s a full onslaught of sonic elements, and hallway through the film the mix pops into the 2.0 mix the engineers aspired to create – everything else that precedes that moment seems to be low and unintelligible due to a phasing issue.

Once again the AB edition sports the original full frame image, but the cleaner transfer and better colours for the Hell sequence are in the Fantoma DVD, with the film matted to 1.66:1. The latter DVD release also includes 3 trailers, an English translation of another Coffin Joe comic book, a booklet with production notes, and a hysterical 10 minute interview with the director.

Marins describes filming in an abandoned synagogue (!), and shooting the amazing spider and snake assaults (the former remains a fabulous tour de force, with actresses smothered in the big hairy bugs). He also mentions his desire at the time of making a trilogy of Coffin Joe films, and preference for amateur actors because he could make them do things no sane actor would want or tolerate. If he wanted a shrill scream from pain, he’d twist an actresses finger; shock reactions were realized with loud sound effects on set; and laughter could be created by tickling feet.

Those fond of the first film may find the second a case of excess and a deviation of the purity that made Part I so special; it’s as though Mario Bava had decided to make a follow up to Black Sunday (1960), in which Princess Asa Vajda returns, abducts male studs for some elaborate insemination scheme to birth a superhuman species with herself as queen. That’s essentially the basis of Marins’ second Coffin Joe film, and it meanders terribly in the final third; shorn of its bravura sequences and weird sadism, it’s a pastiche that over-extends the simplicity of the original film of a bully who’s supposed to get his comeuppance and not survive.

Fantoma released At Night I’ll Take Your Soul (1964), This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse (1967), and Awakening of the Beast (1970) separately and in a coffin-shaped box. Apparently the out of print Region 1 transfers were licensed to Australia’s Umbrella Entertainment, who released their own edition with the same DVD extras in March of 2011.

AB’s 2007 set, branded The Coffin Joe Collection, includes the first three films, plus the 2001 documentary, Coffin Joe: The Strange World of Jose Mojica Marins, and 4 more films: End of Man (1971), Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures (1976), Hellish Flesh (1977), and Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind (1978).

The 2002 Brazilian set, the likely source for AB’s 2007 set, is branded The Coffin Joe Collection (1964 – 1978), and features 6 films, although it lacks Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures (1976) and Hellish Flesh (1977), both present in the AB set. In their place, however, are a bevy of extras including audio commentaries, introductions, promotional ephemera, and a rare short film. (A full review + catalogue of the largely Portuguese-only extras is archived at Monsters at Play.) While the multi-Region Brazilian set includes multi-language subtitles, the Portuguese audio options are limited to bullshit Dolby 2.0 and 5.1 audio mixes.

In 2008, Marins brought Coffin Joe back to the big screen in the third part of the series, Embodiment of Evil, closing 9well, sort of) the events set in morion in part 1, At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul.



© 2011 Mark R. Hasan


Related links:

DVD / Film: At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964) — Embodiment of Evil (2008)


Related external links (MAIN SITE):

DVD / Film:  Black Sunday (1960)


External References:

IMDB — Fan / Official Site


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