31 Days of Halloween #21 – Brazil’s first horror film
Now it’s time to expand my horizons, if I’m not already doing that with upteen indie films on this list. Who needs Jason Voorhees when you’ve got a Portuguese guy screaming bloody murder? That’s right, it’s time for the first appearance of Coffin Joe on film. Coffin Joe is apparently a famous character personality in Brazil. I didn’t know who he was. Did you? The guy was also a notorious filmmaker, a ruthless penny-pincher like Roger Corman, except ten times worse. One of the most famous stories is that he pulled a gun on his crew and demanded they keep working on the movie. José Mojica Marins plays the jerk main character and acts as the jerk director. What a guy. Where’d this guy come from?
At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964) pretty much follows Coffin Joe around and tells his story. He’s made out to be a really evil guy. Joe performs a lot of hateful acts on camera and becomes the town bully. He buys a lamb on Holy Friday and eats meat in front of the Church procession. He doesn’t even care. What a jerk. When his wife complains, he plants a spider in her bed and kills her. Holy cow, this guy! He slaps his challengers and sticks a broken bottle into those people who mouth off. What a class act. At least he pays for the Doctor.
Coffin Joe is the town mortician, if you didn’t guess that already. He has no respect for anything, if you didn’t guess that already too. The only comforting thing is the endless parade of gypsies and fortune-tellers, who claim something bad will happen to him. Joe carries out a plot to kill his own best friend and reaches a new low. In the movie, he appears in all black and wears a silly tophat on his head, but there’s something threatening and dark about him which makes it all work.
On Day of the Dead, a gypsy woman warns Joe that the ghosts of all the people he’s killed will come back and haunt him. She warns him not to go out at night, lest his soul be captured by spirits and dragged to HELL. He laughs. Can’t say she didn’t warn ya, pal. Guess what? His soul is dragged to hell. Couldn’t have happened to a better guy.
Despite being the most hated man ever, Coffin Joe is apparently a character who bridged the gap into other media, like comic books and sides of coffee mugs. This kind of popularity is something akin to Colonel Sanders or Darth Vader. Okay, maybe not Darth Vader.
The effects in this movie are pretty decent for a movie made in a dusty garage in 1964. The crew cut down trees and stole some shrubs for the forest scene at the end. Most of the make-up and effects are top notch and there’s even bloody, on-camera gore that pre-dates Night of the Living Dead. Imagine that.
Overall, this is a decent film. It’s a little repetitive as it tries to convince us Joe is a bad guy. Over and over. I get it, he’s a jerk. Apparently, that didn’t stop José Mojica Marins from putting Coffin Joe in some more popular sequels, the last one in 2008, which was hailed and lauded on by Brazilian film critics. These guys must not get out. Have they seen this thing? It’s not exactly Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Maybe I’m not cultured enough, but I guess I can appreciate the historical value of a character like Coffin Joe and the contributions of José Mojica Marins.
31 Days of Halloween 2016
31. Young Frankenstein (1974)
30. Jason X (2001)
29. Cloverfield (2008)
28. The Monster Squad (1987)
27. Bad Moon (1996)
26. The Haunting (1963)
25. Splinter (2008)
24. Frenzy (1972)
23. Aggression Scale (2012)
22. The Exorcist III
21. At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1963) – This post
20. Silver Bullet (1985)
19. Joy Ride (2001)
18. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
17. The Funhouse (1981) by Tobe Hooper
16. Videodrome (1983)
15. Re-Animator (1985)
14. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
13. Cube (1997)
12. Evil Dead
11. Day of the Dead (1985)
10. Tales of Halloween (2015)
9. They Live (1988)
8. The Innocents (1961)
7. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
6. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
5. I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990)
4. Hatchet (2006)
3. The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
2. Halloween II
1. Silence of the Lambs