This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse

Coffin Joe (also known as Zé do Caixão), survived God’s wrath, or Voodoo undead, or his hallucinations from the end of the first film, even though it really looked like he was dead.  Cleared of all murder charges for no particular reason, he sets up in a new town to once again find the perfect woman to bear him a son.  Aiding Joe is a guy in the worst hunchback makeup I’ve ever seen.  Since no explanation is given for who he is or why he’s helping Joe, I have to wonder if he was supposed to be a horribly deformed hunchback, or a psycho who really wanted to get into community theater.  Between speeches about the folly of religion and how man can find immortality through blood (the second kinda takes the wind out of the first, doesn’t it?), Joe kidnaps a bunch of hot chicks, puts them in transparent nighties, and frightens them with spiders (because that’s certainly the best way to find a superior woman).  Disappointed by the results of his test, and after a few killings, he sets his sights on Laura, the daughter of the richest and most powerful man in town (Hmmm, I wonder if he’ll object).  Laura, being nuttier than Joe, is keen on this breeding program, and the two set out to have a baby and talk about the superiority of man over God.

Coffin Joe is back, with better production values and even more talking.  Yes, this man doesn’t believe in God, does believe in the superiority of man, and really, really wants you to know about it.  Five minutes don’t pass without him making a speech.  And I thought politicians liked to hear themselves talk.

The improvement in cinematic technique over that used in Joe’s first outing, At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul, (the sound wasn’t recorded with a mic sunk in sludge at the bottom of a tin can this time)  makes this a more watchable flick.  The semi-professional sets and scantily clad women don’t hurt either.  And the story is more complex, though that’s a mixed blessing since it also means the plot holes are larger and more frequent.  For the first hour, I was sure there was an excellent movie hidden somewhere within this one, but eventually the endless chattering got to be too much.

Even if writer/director José Mojica Marins’s displays greater skill, much of the production is too crude to take seriously (and the flick is too talky to find humorous).  A scene of several girls being attacked by snakes reminds me of Bela Lagosi finding off the non-functional octopus prop in Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster.  The actresses are obviously lifting the snakes into position.  The major set piece is Joe’s dream journey to hell, the only part of the film in color.  I can only guess that this was supposed to be shocking, with a red-painted man whipping and poking (with a very fake pitchfork) semi-nude men and women, but it’s too poorly done to elicit that reaction.  You might giggle.

Much like the first film, most of This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse is Joe preaching his doctrine of immortality through blood and the foolishness of religion.  Again, the lone atheist (everyone else is Catholic, as would have been expected in 1967 Brazil) is a psychotic killer.  Also, like the first, priests spoke out against the film for its blasphemy of having a non-religious character.  I’d have thought they’d be thrilled with the depiction of a non-believer as someone incapable of good actions.  Instead they were unhappy that anyone would suggest that a person could be an atheist.

At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul ended with possible divine intervention.  This time around, it is more blatant, with the story being wrapped up by God stepping in.  We are then treated to text informing us that, “Man will only find truth when he searches for truth” while a cross glows brighter and brighter.  If I might make a suggestion: Don’t search for truth in a Coffin Joe movie.