aka Esta Noite Encarnarei No Teu Cadáver (Original Title)
108 min., 1967
Written by Aldenora De Sa Porto/José Mojica Marins
Directed by José Mojica Marins
My rating: ★★★★
“Not sadism, my dear. Science!”
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It would seem that Coffin Joe has a lot in common with the Creeper. When last we saw Ze do Caixao, he appeared to be dead after being frightened to death by the ghosts of his victims. Now, in THIS NIGHT I’LL POSSESS YOUR CORPSE, the sequel to AT MIDNIGHT I’LL TAKE YOUR SOUL, Coffin Joe is back, and it seems like he hasn’t learned much from his previous adventure.
This one starts off where the last one ended. Coffin Joe survived his experiences and after a lengthy hospital stay, he is found not guilty of his crimes by the courts because there isn’t enough evidence against him. The guy is so ballsy he just goes home and starts looking for a new wife so that he can achieve immortality through the blood of a son. He plays it safe and does a bit of research into his prospects. All of these girls are atheists. (This time, Coffin Joe specifies that he wants not just any ol’ child, but a SON.) Now, he’s accompanied by a sidekick; Bruno is a hunchback wearing a fez who bears quite some resemblance to Karloff in THE MUMMY.
Whereas the last movie didn’t have much going for it in the way of a story, this one improves significantly. Coffin Joe’s sick of fucking around. He needs to get down to business. To that end, instead of wasting his time going from woman to woman, he just kidnaps a bunch of them and puts them into competition with each other in order to determine who will be lucky enough to bear his seed.
Could you imagine putting Coffin Joe in charge of a reality show, like maybe THE BACHELOR? It would probably be more along the lines of FEAR FACTOR, considering how he goes about it. While they’re all asleep, he sends an army of spiders into their room to terrify them while he watches in secret. They all freak out except for one woman, and rather than go through a bunch of trials and errors, he just picks her and kills the rest. For those paying attention from last time, you realize that he simply can’t kill someone. Instead, he lets Bruno have one of them, and since the hunchback isn’t too bright, he takes her in much the same fashion as Lenny from OF MICE AND MEN would. Coffin Joe then pours acid on the dead girl’s face and gives the rest of the losers a choice: you can go through this door, or you can go with Bruno. Unsurprisingly, they all choose the door. Too bad for them. They find themselves stuck in a room with a
shit-ton of deadly snakes. As one of them dies, she curses him. She tells him that her spirit will come for him later.
Meanwhile, Coffin Joe is feeling romantic with the winner, and in order to get more enjoyment out of it, he opens up a secret passage so they can watch the girls die as he fucks his bride. This puts the woman a bit off her feed, and she refuses Coffin Joe’s advances. Oddly enough, Coffin Joe lets her go. He likes her strength and can’t bring himself to snuff her out.
That is yet another testament to the strangeness of Coffin Joe’s character. He respects smart and strong people while he steps on the weak. He considers love weak, for instance. When he meets his next conquest, the daughter of a local colonel, he is delighted to discover that she agrees with him. Not only that, but she’s kind of eager to carry his baby. This is a new experience for him, as he’s used to raping women to get his way. The problem is, she’s engaged to marry someone else.
This is readily taken care of by kidnapping the unlucky fiancé and torturing him a little bit before crushing his head with a giant rock. He even gets to make good use of the corpse by using it to frame a local muscleman for murder. (Oh yeah, Truncador has been seduced by the woman Coffin Joe let go, to kill Coffin Joe. Also, the colonel later hires Truncador and a bunch of goons to kill Coffin Joe.)
So yeah, there’s a lot more going on in this movie, and it works really well. The gore level is a little bit lower than the first, but the story more than makes up for it. While there are flaws (like the opening credits, which are pretty much the same as the first one except for some really fucking annoying lettering that looks like its suffering from Parkinson’s), they are far outweighed by the positives.
One cannot talk about this movie, however, without mentioning one particular scene. About midway through the film, Coffin Joe discovers that the woman who cursed him was pregnant, and it bugs the shit out of him. This is the first crime he believes he has committed, considering his near-worship of children. That night, he has a really fucked up dream.
Both this movie and the previous one were in black and white, but this one particular scene was done in color. A super creepy guy dressed completely in black leather a la the first season of AMERICAN HORROR STORY drags Coffin Joe to Hell, where he finds himself in a Dante-esque wet dream. The walls and floor breathe, and there are heads and limbs hanging from the ceilings. Blood drips down from above as he wanders around, watching as demons mercilessly whip sinners, who are trapped in the walls or crawling on their bellies. It’s some real Hellraiser shit, and it’s a hell of a trip. It’s ahead of its time.
The one true flaw of this movie is the ending, and it wasn’t even as director/star Jose Mojica Marins intended. Coffin Joe’s first outing was so popular that he was given a big budget to produce a sequel. However, with a lot of money comes a sacrifice of vision. SPOILER ALERT: Once again, Coffin Joe is haunted by his victims, and he wanders off into the wilderness, terrified and ranting, going off on his usual atheist rant. The villagers, who have been following him with Frankenstein torches and rakes in order to lynch him, watch him stumble into some quicksand, and as he sinks down to his death, he shrieks out his renouncement of atheism. According to the liner notes to the DVD, Marins intended Coffin Joe to go to his death continuing to scream his defiance of God, but the studio made him change it. Too bad the DVD release didn’t restore the original ending. As a result, it is the only thing that keeps this movie from getting a fourth star. END OF SPOILERS.
This is one of the rare instances in which the sequel is better than the first movie. There are a few trade offs in regards to departments of quality, but ultimately, it’s a better picture than its predecessor. If you liked the first, this one is required viewing. Tune in next time for a review of the kinda-sorta sequel, AWAKENING THE BEAST.Have You Read...?