Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Awakening of the Beast

This is kind of the odd man out of the box set. While José Mojica Marins once again writes, directs, and stars in it, it’s really not a Coffin Joe movie, instead being a pseudo-documentary that’s more of a social statement on the drug problems in Brazil at the end of the 60s. While Marins shows up playing himself, he only appears as Coffin Joe in a drug-induced dream sequence in which he torments a group of addicts.

While it’s nice that he was trying something new (even moreso because of how interesting it was that Brazil’s first and biggest horror star was taking a moral stand), I think the semi-documentary approach rather hurts the film, possibly because he didn’t really know how to pull it off properly. We’re treated to scenes of drug-fuelled debauchery, and then cut to a discussion between two men (Marins is later shown to be with them, playing himself) about the LSD experiment the one was working on, and what went wrong with it. Then we’re back to more debauchery, then back to two men talking, and so on and so on. For more than half the movie, whenever some level of tension is built up from the scenes of drug-induced rampages and excess, the momentum is ground to a halt by leaving it in favor of those incredibly dull men that serve no purpose but to try to shoehorn the film into a “message”. The only part of the film that’s allowed to take its time, and thus work its magic properly, is when the addicts are shown This Night I’ll Posses Your Corpse before being given the LSD, and then have an extended dream sequence in a Hell presided over by Coffin Joe, who torments and tortures them all for close to half an hour before they awaken. This sequence (like in Corpse, this is the only portion that’s in color) works so well that it just makes it more awkward when it finally goes back to the two men, who close out the film by clumsily delivering their “drugs are bad” sermon. It’s very clear which portions of the film Marins knew how to make, and which he was just tacking on because he wanted to make a statement but didn’t know how to in the actual narrative.

While there are some great moments in this film, it’s simply too schizophrenic for me to give a proper recommendation to. If he had edited out the two dullards and their nonsense and instead found a way to connect the scenes of horror together in some vaguely coherent manner without them, it would have been a lot better. As it is, though, it really just doesn’t work.

Rating: * 1/2

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