Sunday, October 7, 2007

At Midnight I'll Steal Your Soul

One thing I gotta give to José Mojica Marins, the co-writer, director, and star of this, the first of the Coffin Joe movies: he knows how to title a damn movie. Even if the film itself doesn’t quite work, you go into it with such a good feeling that it almost makes up for whatever other flaws the film has.

Marins himself would probably make a fascinating case study. When in front of the camera, he looks positively ghoulish, with his top hat, cape, and overlarge beard, snarling and leering at everyone else, and prone to violent outbursts in almost every scene. On the writing and directing side, he’s a bit less solid, but he’s still quite unique, as if he had only seen two or three movies before making this, and so didn’t have many preconceived notions about how best to shoot and edit it. While this does tend to make the film more than a little sloppy and give the overall impression that this was more of a rough draft than anything else, it does sometimes pay off with a nice visual flair. One great moment near the end has him being menaced by a ghost with a glowing aura surrounding him, a special effect apparently achieved by gluing some glitter to the film negative. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen Spielberg try that.

While yes, this movie didn’t work about as often as it did, I do have to say I’m now looking forward to seeing the other two films in the Coffin Joe box set I got, This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse and the sadly uninterestingly titled Awakening of the Beast. He’s a director that shows a good deal of promise (or at least did back in the mid-60s when this was made), and if nothing else it’s interesting seeing a horror monster’s rise to stardom in a country we normally don’t hear enough about.

Rating: **

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