This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (1967)


José Mojica Marins has the distinction of directing, and starring in, Brazil's first ever horror film.  At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul was released in 1964 and was pretty much handmade by Marins in a tiny studio, save for a couple exterior shots.  The movie went on to be a major hit in Brazil and established his villainous protagonist, Zé do Caixão, aka Coffin Joe, as a major icon.  In character Marins would go on to make a number of films that featured the him as an auxiliary character as well as hosting horror films on television.

It is surprising that, with all the movies Marins made and that Zé appeared in, there were only two true sequels to the original movie.  The first was This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse, which follows immediately upon the events of the first movie.

While Zé do Caixão appeared to have been killed he is instead wounded and blind.  His sight is restored to him by a skilled surgeon while at the same time he is acquitted of the crimes he committed.  Returning to his village and to his funeral home, and employing a hunchback named Bruno (Jose Lobo), he soon becomes the lead suspect in the disappearance of several women in the town.  Though he claims no involvement he has in fact kidnaped them to participate in a twisted contest to determine which one will have the "privilege" or bearing him a son, which he believes will be the perfect human being.  One of the women who do not make it, before dying, curses him, stating that the son he wishes will never be born. 

As usual his absolute disbelief in the supernatural or any power higher than himself leads him to ignore the curse.  Instead, through a series of machinations, he takes as his lover a woman named Laura (Tina Wohlers) who shares his desire to deliver unto the world a "superior" human being.  While a dire warning comes to him of his former victims pursuing him in Hell, he chooses to continue on in his ways.  Meanwhile, Laura's father, upon finding out Zé murdered his son, has local strongman Truncador (Antonio Fracari) gather me to kill him and, if that fails, plans to finally have the village overcome their fears and rid themselves of Zé do Caixão once and for all. 

Marins once again chews the scenery, reveling in brutality and blasphemy, and as he got away with controversial material in the original he ups the ante on the sequel, with more violence and brief nudity.  Most of the latter takes place during his vision of Hell which, unlike the rest of the movie, is filmed in color, and, though the sequence goes on way too long, it is well done for little budget Marins had.  At the time, due in large part to At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul, b-movies and horror films had become more widespread and, as long as they didn't get political, could get away with quite a bit. 

Much of the cheese from the first movie is gone, so there is no opening narration.  Instead, the beginning features a number of quick cuts and Marins's directing style has become less influenced by Hammer and Universal and more by Italian, Spanish and even Mexican cinema.  Part of the reason for the length is that the plot gets complicated, although everything ties together at the end.  It is also a little more religious as if Marins, despite this being his most famous character, wanted to distance himself from Zé do Caixão a bit.  

Despite that it is largely Marins's performance that carries the film, although everyone else does a fine job as well.  The only real problem is that, involved as the plot is, it still could have been told in less time.  I guess he thought that he might as well get everything out of the color sequence he could, but it could have been a swift five-minute portion of the film and been even more effective.  That little bit of extra self-indulgence has the unfortunate consequence of marring what is still a classic horror film. 

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (1967)
Time: 108 minutes
Starring: José Mojica Marins, Tina Wohler, Nadia Freitas, Antonio Fracari, Jose Lobo
Director: José Mojica Marins



 

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