Saturday, July 7, 2007

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1963)

Fear: 0/5
Gore 2/5
Creepiness 2/5
Entertainment 4/5
Nightmares 0/5
Weirdness 3/5

Ahh IFC Grindhouse, what wonderful way to end a week. A few weeks ago the fine people at IFC unloaded a big pile of classic Coffin Joe movies which I was unfortunate enough to have missed. I also missed the Godzilla marathon on Encore Action on the 4th. What a bummer.

Anyway, IFC was kind enough to replay the 1963 Brazilian weird-fest At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul and I was stoked. If you are unfamiliar with the films of Coffin Joe, I'll save the jibba jabba and let you read more here.

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul is often credited as being the first Brazilian horror film, and for 1963, it's pretty cool. The film starts with a gypsy witch warning the audience to leave the theater while they can...but then it's too late and she warns to be as careful as possible while watching this film. Cheesy as fuck, but awesome.

The story is very straightforward - Coffin Joe (Ze do Caixao) is the local undertaker in a small town in Brazil. He is despised and feared by the community for his apostasy and open mocking of Catholicism (again, for 1963, this is pretty hardcore stuff). He is married to a woman who can't (won't) get pregnant and since he is obsessed with having his bloodline continue, he murders her and starts looking for the perfect mate.

Joe over-acts and swaggers through the movie like a cross between Dracula and Che Guevara with an air about him that says those around him are merely "puny humans", too weak to be deserving of any mercy or compassion. He fights people, rapes women, kills his wife, best friend and business partner and spouts his Anton LaVey-ish humanist philosophy throughout the entire film, laughing maniacally all the way.

The film is uber-low budg', which works in it's favor as the screen quality is rivaled only by, maybe, the Three Stooges. The gore effects are primitive and cheap, but shocking for their time (cutting off fingers, gouging out eyes). The rape scene is, again, for it's time, pretty scandalous and, of course, the religious skewering is fun as well. And given how foreign it all feels, it's just flat out weird at times. The whole thing comes across like a carnival haunted house gone satanic.

Love it.

- Complaint Dept

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