Wednesday 18 July 2007

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (1967) José Mojica Marins

Coffin Joe is back and he's carrying on precisely where he left off: philosophising about life, death and the innocence of childen; taking potshot after potshot at the the Roman Catholic Church and kidnapping women in order to propagate his bloodline. He's stolen six of them away in order to discover which should bear his son and, aided by his disfigured hunchback assistant Bruno, he promptly tests them with long and stunningly gratuitous scenes where they sleep through a plague of tarantulas let loose to climb all over them. He's testing their courage, and it isn't much of a leap to see José Mojica Marins testing their courage not just as an actor but as a director: it's hard not to see breath getting quicker when a tarantula crawls up someone's cleavage.

This is almost the definition of the diabolical evil genius movie. Just like in At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul, Coffin Joe is completely dominant throughout and he simply delights in being such. He has his outlandish appearance of top hat and cape, along with long curly fingernails and a ferocious unibrow. He has his schemes that go well beyond what most run of the mill villains would fnd acceptable. He revels in going that step or two over the edge: beyond mating with the one he picks of the six, he has to do so in front of the other five. Oh, and he's imprisoned them in a pit below his bedroom that he populates with snakes. And while they die, he eats grapes. Talk about sadistic! And yet, Coffin Joe movies are all about Coffin Joe so don't go looking for a hero. We're too busy admiring the size of his cojones to look for a hero anyway.

Of course everything else is pretty consistent with the first film also: the acting is terrible, the editing leaves much to be desired and the sound quality is abysmal. Yet somehow it's irresistible, probably because it's completely other: exotic, hallucinatory and just plain twisted. It's a psychedelic blasphemous fever dream that makes precisely no sense whatsoever. It isn't just that Marins doesn't attempt to explain away his gaping plotholes, it's that he paints over them with the broadest strokes and flaunts the fact.

The most obvious plothole is that this film even exists. He's left for dead at the end of the first after blatantly running roughshod over everyone and everything, killing, raping and torturing, yet somehow is nursed back to health here by those he tormented and found completely innocent of all crimes on the basis of lack of evidence. In other words, there's no plot writable that allows Coffin Joe to return to his old ways untouched, so Marins does precisely that and doesn't even pretend to notice. You truly have to watch to believe, especially the colour sequence set in Hell. It's not necessarily great but it's amazing stuff.

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