Sunday, June 19, 2011

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse

Jose Mojia Marins’ sequel to his classic At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1963) picks up immediately where the first film left off, with Zé do Caixão/Coffin Joe (Marins) revealed to be not dead but merely left bloodied and blinded by the vengeful spirits of his victims. After regaining his strength and sight in hospital, and being absolved of all his crimes and sins, Zé returns to his home village, showing no remorse and immediately resuming his relentless and obsessive quest to find the perfect young virgin to continue his bloodline. Indeed, on his very first night back he kidnaps six young women (with the help of his hunchback, disfigured servant Bruno), subjecting them to a sadistic test that involves dozens of big hairy spiders crawling all over them. Zé lets Marcia (Nadia Freitas), the one girl who doesn’t show fear of the arachnids, live. The rest he condemns to terror and death in a snake-pit.

When Marcia refuses to make love to Zé, he sets her free, telling her that he knows she won’t go to the police, and quickly turns his attention to Laura (Tina Wohlers), the daughter of the local colonel, who finds herself easily seduced by Zé and his strange hypnotic manner. Zé however suffers something of a breakdown when he discovers that one of the young girls he earlier kidnapped, and put to death in the snake-pit, was expecting a child. Overcome with guilt at killing an unborn (one of the strange contradictions of the character), that night Zé has a horrifying nightmare where he is pulled from his bed by a tall creepy figure (who looks to be made of licorice) and dragged into Hell (the film turning from B&W to colour for the visit), where he looks on in horror as the inhabitants are tortured and persecuted, before confronting the Devil in his own image. Though he refuses to let the nightmare hold him back in his quest to sire a son, the experience marks the beginning of Zé’s downfall, as the local villagers finally gather the nerve to try and rid themselves of the obvious evil in their midst.
While it doesn’t quite pack the same primeval punch as At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul, This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse is still a raw and brutal film, which sees Marins upping the nastiness and the nightmarish imagery, creating a work that is much more extreme and intense than what was coming out of America and the UK at the time. In fact, it’s probably the film that most clearly defines Marins’ Zé do Caixão/Coffin Joe character - the comic book/pulp aspects of him more dominant than before, but still retaining his core of palpable menace and mischievous spite.
Where This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse trumps its predecessor is in its stunningly executed colour ‘Hell’ sequence, where Marins breaks with convention by portraying Hell as a place wracked by ice and snow rather than flames and molten lava. And even if this was a decision made necessary by budgetary constraints, creatively it works wonderfully, with the filmmaker bathing the white landscape in day-glow colours while demons whip and torture the naked screaming souls who are melded into the stalagmites and cavernous walls. As much as I believe Marins’ characters and films work better when contained in a grimy black & white world, it’s also exciting to watch when he decides to momentarily break free from that world and let his unique psychedelic palette take over.
This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse was the middle part of a planned trilogy which Marin’s only completed with Embodiment of Evil in 2008. Umbrella’s release of This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse includes the original (disturbing) theatrical trailer and a brief eight minute interview with Marins talking about the film. It is available as part of Umbrella’s four disc The Coffin Joe Collection.
DIRECTOR(S): Jose Mojia Marins | COUNTRY: Brazil | YEAR 1967 | DISTRIBUTOR(S): Umbrella Entertainment | RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes | ASPECT RATIO: 4:3 | REGION: All | DISCS: 1
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • The Making of This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse

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