Written by: Carroll Jenkins on August 7th, 2009
Theatrical Release Dates: Brazil, 1964 (At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul), Brazil, 1967 (This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse)
Director: José Mojica Marins
Writers: José Mojica Marins, Waldomiro França, Magda Mei (At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul),José Mojica Marins, Aldenora De Sa Porto (This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse)
Cast: José Mojica Marins, Magda Mei, Nivaldo Lima, Valéria Vasquez, Ilídio Martins Simões, Eucaris Moraes(At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul), José Mojica Marins, Tina Wohlers, Nadia Freitas, Antonio Fracari, Jose Lobo, Esmeralda Ruchel, Paula Ramos, Tania Mendonça (This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse)
DVD released: July 27th, 2009
Approximate running times: 82 minutes (At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul), 105 minutes (This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame (Both Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Portuguese (Both Films)
Subtitles: English – Burned In (Both Films)
DVD Release: Anchor Bay UK
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £39.99 (At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul and This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse are only available as part of Anchor Bay UK’s Coffin Joe Collection)
The first ‘Coffin Joe’ film was made on a shoestring budget, but is an incredible achievement for writer, director, and star Marins. ‘At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul’ is somewhat crude and antiquated (even for it’s time), the cast is small, sets are minimal, and Marins’ performance verges on hammy. All the same criticisms can be leveled at White Zombie with Bela Lugosi (1932), but the virtues are similar, as well. Marins gives a powerhouse and charismatic performance where he credibly dominates the populace by force of personality combined with ruthless acts of violence. He doesn’t believe in superstitions, but uses them as weapons and means to his goal – possession of another’s wife. In Coffin Joe’s case, his best friend’s wife.
As in White Zombie, there is an eerie, otherworldly atmosphere that pervades the film and greatly contributes to suspension of disbelief. There are graphic shock visuals in both films, and the protagonist gives long monologues purporting his entirely self-centric word view. In both movies this only works due to the fervent and extraordinary performances of the respective bogeyman. Despite the gruesome murders and assorted acts of terrorism, the most shocking aspect of the film in it’s day was the attack on religion in general and Catholicism in particular.
The sequel, This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse begins right where the original left off with a [cheat] recap just like a Republic serial chapter. As with Evil Dead II, presented as a sequel, this is basically a remake of the original on a grander scale. Bigger cast, elaborate sets, better special effects, and more victims. There are many influences from Universal horrors including a deformed hunchback assistant and an elaborate dungeon laboratory. The biggest influence from AIP shockers is the show stopping color segment of Joe’s nightmare vision of Hell.
This time Joe does his homework, researches all the local women in the demographic (beautiful and young) selects only atheist women, captures six, and then devises various tortures and abasements to narrow the selection. He defends his atrocities in the name of science (as did the Nazis). Perhaps, like Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse films, he is not advocating terrorism but denouncing it? After all, the titles of both films are curses pronounced upon Coffin Joe, not by him.
Both films are included on the first disc of the nine film Coffin Joe Box Set. Incidentally, these are the only included ‘official’ Coffin Joe releases. The final chapter in the trilogy, Embodiment of Evil, is available separately. The films probably look as good as they can, though both have burned in English subtitles. There are no extras.
‘At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul’ spends more time developing the Coffin Joe universe, while ‘This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse’ is more melodramatic and like a feature film condensation of an entire Republic serial (but envisioned that way). There is no comedy relief in either film, both contain blasphemous and horrendous acts, and both are thoroughly entertaining and highly recommended – just not for everyone.
Note: The Anchor Bay UK Coffin Joe Collection contains the following films, At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul, This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse, The Strange World Of Coffin Joe, Awakening Of The Beast, End Of Man, Strange Hostel Of Naked Pleasures, Hellish Flesh, Hallucinations Of A Deranged Mind and The Strange World Of Mojica Marins.