Wednesday, October 10, 2007

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse

This, the follow-up film to At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul, is a marked improvement over that film, and shows that filmmaker José Mojica Marins was really starting to get his shit together direction-wise as well as acting.

Continuing from right where the previous film had left off, this has the notorious Coffin Joe still searching for an ideal bride to continue his bloodline with, and so to find his perfect mate, he kidnaps a bunch of beautiful women and tortures them all to see which of them is best equipped to handle his seed. While most of the women strangely enough can’t handle his odd criteria of handling spiders and snakes and the like, one of them turns out to be as twisted as he is, and they immediately set out to make a baby that has absolutely no hope of growing up even vaguely normal.

The plot is intentionally pretty thin, as it’s only there for the purpose of allowing Marins to show as many nightmarish scenarios as he can cram into one film. He’s improved noticeably as a director here (though he still feels the need to open up the damn film by delivering some ridiculously faux-philosophical monologue to the camera), and uses his newfound skill into crafting a grand guignol, capping the whole event by having the corpses of his victims rising up from the grave and actually dragging him down into Hell, where the film turns to color to show him the torturous fate in store for him.

Just as important as the directing is Marins’ performance as Coffin Joe himself. While I’m quite well-versed in horror villains being incredibly sadistic and vile, but this is one of the only times I’ve seen where the villain is just terrified of his actions ever turning back around on him. He completely falls to pieces during the sequence in Hell, terrified of ever being stuck there, and elsewhere, when the villagers rise up against him in the grand horror tradition, he also panics, making a screaming plea to God (this was admittedly forced upon Marins by the Brazilian censors, as he was originally going to deny God’s power to the end, but still). Usually horror villains are so one-dimensional, and it’s nice to see one that’s a bit more fleshed out and interesting.

This one really is the highlight of the Coffin Joe box set. It doesn’t flinch at all from it subject matter, instead just taking it as far as its budget would let it go. For anyone that wants to see what a nightmare on film might look like, you’d do well to check this one out.

Rating: *** ½

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