Thursday, January 24, 2008

Coffin Joe Hits His Evil Stride

The auteur and star, Jose Mojica Marins, on his way to the manicurist

Brazilian loon Jose Mojica Marins avoids the sophomore slump in his second flick, 1966's This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse. Quite possibly the worst film ever shot in an abandoned synagogue, the film should delight arachnophobes and snake chunkers especially.

This Night... opens with the same sequence of the villagers chasing Ze do Caixho (Coffin Joe) to the cemetery, only to find him lying dead with his eyes bugging out in terror. But hey - turns out he wasn't really dead after all.

This time he's running roughshod over a slightly larger town. This town has a sort of a square and a pond and some marshes and stuff. (According to the interview with the director, included in the DVD, Mojica's budget went up about 11 bucks so he was able to shoot a few scenes outside.)

Ze is still obsessed with fathering a son, so he and his creepy fez-wearing deformed assistant set about kidnapping a bunch of girls. To test their mettle he releases a whole herd of big ol' tarantulas into their dormitory. The lady that doesn't freak out he keeps around; the rest go into the snake pit he has conveniently located under the master bedroom.

The girl he's picked happens to be the daughter of the town bigwig, so Ze's got a gang of mercenaries to contend with, led by the village idiot who is in love with the same girl.

Of course, Coffin Joe runs rings around the hired hands, and it takes a skinny black zombie to drag him - literally - to the underworld.

Which is in color!

The Hell sequence, which must run 10 minutes at least, is where This Night... goes from being an above-average but quaint schlocker into sublime CACA territory. Ze wanders around this rather chilly and snowy version of Hades and marvels at the excellent tortures being used on the damned, all the while proclaiming loudly that he believes none of it.

Which is not very convincing when the King of the Underworld is lounging on a nearby throne, surrounded by half-nekkid snake women, laughing his head off.

We have, in addition to Hell: A stampede of tarantulas; tarantulas on pretty girls; tarantulas on pretty girls' bottoms; well-stocked snake pit; corpse-dissolving pool; one axe in head; death by quicksand; gratuitous (and ad-libbed) blasphemy; terrible dentistry; fez-wearing hunchback.

A masterpiece. Four coils.

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