Written by: Carroll Jenkins on February 21st, 2017
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 Release Date: January 31st, 2017
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 (Both Films)
DVD Release: Synapse Films
Region Encoding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95 (Each Film is sold separately)
Synopsis: Coffin Joe is an undertaker in a small village who believes that continuation of the male lineage is the only purpose of life. When he discovers his wife is barren, he decides to dispose of her and find a suitable concubine. In the process he eliminates everyone in his way.
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 presented in their original aspect ratios. The transfers for both films were scanned from their 35mm negative’s and supervised by director José Mojica Marins. Considering the limitations of these film’s source materials, Synapse Films have done a superb job with these transfers.
Each film comes with one audio option, these film’s native language Portuguese and included for this release are removable English subtitles. The audio is in good shape, dialog is clear and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul include, an introduction to the film by Coffin Joe, a rare promotional trailer (3 minutes 16 seconds), the film’s original theatrical trailer (1 minute 50 seconds), a new scene filmed in 2002 (6 minutes 53 seconds), an interview with José Mojica Marins (6 minutes 31 seconds), José Mojica Marins discusses his short film, Reino Sangrento (8 minutes 53 seconds) and a featurette titled The Making of At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (10 minutes 1 second).
Extras for This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse include, an introduction to the film by Coffin Joe, still / rare photo gallery, the film’s original theatrical trailer (2 minutes 16seconds), an interview with José Mojica Marins (7 minutes 48 seconds), a vintage featurette titled The Universe of Mojica Marins (25 minutes 14 seconds), a featurette titled A visit to the Coffin Joe Museum (4 minutes 25 seconds) and and a featurette titled The Making of This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse (8 minutes 12 seconds).
All of the extra content is in Portuguese with English subtitles.
Overall Synapse Films give these two Coffin Joe film’s their best home video releases to date, highly recommended.