Coffin Joe Trilogy (DVD)
Prepare to enter the world of an unholy
undertaker, evil philosopher, and denizen of dreams and hallucinations
Coffin Joe! With his trademark top hat, black cape, and long talon-like fingernails,
this Brazilian horror icon has been immortalized in films, TV shows, radio
programs, comic books, and popular songs. He is the creation of Jose Mojica
Marins, whose perversely original filmmaking style has been compared to an
unholy blend of Mario Bava, Luis Bunuel, and Russ Meyer. Fantoma is proud to
present director-approved editions of these seminal tales of terror in a
specially-priced limited edition boxed set. Contains "At Midnight I'll Take Your
Soul," "This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse" and "Awakening of the Beast."
...Read More About the Coffin Joe Trilogy
Awakening Of The
"Awakening of the
Beast" is a deliriously psychedelic nightmare about the rise of drug use and
perversion among the youth of the nation. In a series of increasingly bizarre
vignettes we see all manner of depravity, from a group of finger-sniffing
hippies to a lecherous movie producer seducing a young starlet. Four drug
addicts are chosen out of this group to take part in an LSD experiment. What
follows is the closest thing to real acid trip ever put on film--but are they
under the influence of LSD or
Coffin Joe? Banned by Brazil's military
dictatorship for nearly 20 years, it is now considered by many to be
writer-director-star Jose Mojica Marins' masterpiece.
Being a fan of foreign horror films, I was intrigued to find out that this was the first to be filmed in Brazil. Upon viewing the strange, but captivating movie, I knew that I had not been let down. True, the film is an oldie (released in 1964), but still delivers better than most from that time period, as well as some that are released today. The story is fairly simple: Coffin Joe, resembling Jack The Ripper with claws, wants a child born of his ideal woman. The religious aspects of the film, from the holy to the blasphemous, prove that the censors had a hard time releasing it, especially in that time period. The special effects are comical by today's standards, but are still effective in being creepy. The DVD hosts some interesting extras, including a comic book and the original trailer. Most entertaining is the up-to-date interview with writer-director-actor Jose Mojica Marins, in which he reveals that the ghost effect was done by gluing glitter to the actual film around the actor's image to create a glowing essence. This film proves that you don't need a mega-budget to make a good film. --an Amazon.com reviewer
This sequel to "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" is bigger, bolder and more
insane than its predecessor. Coffin Joe returns to continue his quest for the perfect bride. Aided by a hunchbacked
assistant, he embarks on an even more brutal campaign of terror. For his sins,
Joe is dragged headfirst into the underworld. As imagined by
writer-director-star Jose Mojica Marins, it's as unique a vision of hell as
you'll ever see!
Director Jose Mojica Marins took Brazil by storm with the 1963 release of "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul," the first entry in what would soon become known as the Coffin Joe franchise. It may be quite surprising that such a low budget black and white film made in Brazil forty years ago would merit a DVD release, but when you watch the movie, you will readily agree that there is something special about Marins's project. After the release of this movie, the Brazilian director churned out numerous sequels that ultimately led to his becoming a pop culture icon in his native land. Marins often turned up in public dressed in the trademark Coffin Joe attire: a black cape, a black top hat, and hook-like fingernails about three inches long (the fingernails are real, by the way, as an interview with Marins confirms). Genre fans in the United States picked up on the Coffin Joe craze and sought out hard to find copies of his films until an American video company released them here few years ago. Now we can watch the horror that is Coffin Joe on DVD. I love it! I cannot wait to see the other two sequels also out on DVD.
Coffin Joe's works as an undertaker for a small Brazilian town. He is not a popular figure with the locals, who cannot stand his sadistic bullying or his mocking attitudes towards God and Satan. Joe laughs at the silly superstitions of the townspeople as he chows down on meat on Fridays and heckles people in a religious procession. When Joe isn't preparing bodies for burial, he spends time taunting his wife at home, hitting on his friend's girlfriend, and hanging out at the local pub. Coffin Joe's biggest concern in life is his ability to produce an heir to carry on his "bloodline." Since his wife suffers from infertility, Joe cannot stand to be around her and must always be on the lookout for a gal who can have children. Perhaps it isn't all that surprising that his desire for offspring attains a murderous mania: after all, a man who doesn't believe in God or an afterlife would have only his physical presence to fall back upon. Reproduction would be the only way to achieve a sort of immortality.
Joe's hotheaded antics eventually result in several grisly murders. In the course of his crime spree, he visits a fortuneteller who senses his evil and predicts a series of events that will culminate in Coffin Joe's demise. The undertaker scoffs at such supernatural nonsense and continues on his merry way. In various scenes, Joe murders and brutalizes his way through town. He disposes of his wife with a nasty looking spider, gouges out eyes, cuts off a man's fingers, drowns someone, and flogs a local at the pub. You just know that this guy is eventually going to get what's coming to him, especially after seeing his blasphemous jaunts through the local cemetery where he roars in derision at the dead and questions the very existence of a supreme being. Coffin Joe does finally learn that fooling with the primal forces of creation brings about events of a decidedly unpleasant nature.
Marins brilliantly realizes his creation in this film. His performance as Coffin Joe only delves into the melodramatic on a few occasions, for most of the time he exudes an aura of palpable danger. The scenes where the undertaker questions the supreme deity reek of dark atmosphere, made even more intense by the black and white picture. To top the whole thing off, the movie employs some of the eeriest background music I have heard in awhile. The music and pitch black atmosphere help to conceal the low budget production values used in the film. You would swear Coffin Joe is wondering around in a big forest for most of the movie, when in actuality Marins used a very small indoor set for nearly all of his scenes. The best effect in the film occurs during a sequence where Coffin Joe encounters the ghost of one of his victims. In order to create a creepy aura surrounding this walking spirit, Marins glued glitter (yes, glitter!) directly onto the negative. It is simply incredible how well this works on the screen; I have never seen anything like it in any movie I have ever watched. Also, listen for the use of echo boxes during Coffin Joe's blasphemous diatribes, which give the scenes an added dimension of unearthliness. Little tricks like these make "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" an immensely entertaining experience.
The DVD contains several surprising extras. You get three trailers for three Coffin Joe films and a lengthy interview with Marins about the creation of this project. The most interesting part of this discussion involves Marins's problems with Brazilian film censors at the time of the movie's release. Marins lied to the officials, telling them that he lost the negative of the film because he feared that the censors would confiscate the movie and permanently ruin it. At one time, at least ten different versions of the movie played throughout a Brazilian city. Fortunately, the DVD version is an uncut version of Marins's magical film. The movie's dialogue is in Portuguese, of course, but the subtitles are easy to see and, unlike many Asian films, actually match up with who is speaking. If you are in the mood for something well beyond the ordinary, look no further than "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul." --an Amazon.com reviewer