Good evening, kiddies! It’s the Dash man coming at you with yet another fright on such a lovely night. Just got to wondering, what do you always find on Halloween night? The sight of children swinging around bags of candy and dressed up as monsters, ninjas, princesses, and even Horror Movie Icons. You got your Freddy, Jason, Dracula, Ghostface, Chucky…but how about some more obscure icons? In fact, I got an icon for you that’s easy to pull off, kids. All you need is a black suit, a black cape, a top hat, a full beard, long fingernails, an explosive temper, complete and utter lack of respect for all mankind, and an appetite for destruction and debauchery. Sounds simple enough, right?
Beware, ladies and gentlemen. You are about to enter the strange world…of Coffin Joe!
‘At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul’ was a 1964 Horror film written and directed by Brazilian director José Mojica Marins who also plays the infamous Coffin Joe, the film’s main antagonist. This film is not only a hidden gem in Horror but it is also a forgotten landmark in filmmaking; not only did this movie mark the beginning of ‘The Coffin Joe Trilogy’, but it was also the very first Horror movie ever made in Brazil. This movie is everything you’d expect from a great horror classic…for it’s time anyway. The amount of violence, disturbing imagery and mockery of religion may seem tame by today’s standards to some people. However, if you were to put yourself in the shoes of an everyday man or woman living in Brazil during the 60s, you could then understand how this film may have left such an impression, or caused such an outrage upon its release; which in my opinion, is what makes the character of Coffin Joe a true Cult Horror Icon.
Not to say that the film is perfect, however. For one, its a foreign film. Don’t get me wrong, I love foreign films. In fact, most foreign films are even better than the ones from Hollywood. Unfortunately, most American moviegoers either don’t know or just flat out refuse to watch movies made from other countries. Mostly because they “Shouldn’t have to read while watching a movie, why can’t they just speak English?”, which is probably the most disgusting thing you could ever say about a piece of art. It’s very similar to this other controversial foreign film with a cult following, yet most people only choose to acknowledge its watered-down, PG-13 rated, Americanized knock-off simply because the original is foreign.
Oh yeah, I friggin’ went there!
Another thing that keeps this movie from being perfect is actually the film’s antagonist himself. On one hand, Coffin Joe is an amazing villain whose very presence engulfs the entire movie, even when he isn’t on screen. You can practically feel the evil coming from the screen through José Mojica Marins’ performance, as well as his direction. While on the other hand, Coffin Joe is an amazing villain whose very presence engulfs the entire movie, even when he isn’t on screen. Coffin Joe is a sadistic, blasphemous, murderous rapist who leaves a trail of pain and anguish all throughout. While a character description like that sounds perfect for a Horror movie villain, imagine how much scarier he’d be if we actually cared for the majority of the townsfolk he hurts. Mindless violence on film may be fun, but what truly makes an effective Horror film are likable characters to get behind. So when these horrible atrocities happen to them, it’s much more monstrous and makes the film’s villain even more of a legitimate threat.
Okay, okay, okay! I’m Sorry, Joe! You’re already a threat! Look, let me just wrap this up. Aside from one or two problems, I highly recommend this Brazilian masterpiece. If you simply ignore the fact that it’s a foreign film, it’s still an effective chiller with some cringeworthy moments, beautiful cinematography and a truly terrifying villain. Speaking of which, this is most certainly not the last you’ve heard of Coffin Joe…far from it. Until then, I’ll catch you guys later. Gotta Dash! Oh, and José Mojica Marins sends his regards.
…sleep tight, kids.
Written By Shane Moose
Videos & Photos:
At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul(owned by Indústria Cinematográfica Apolo & N.T.M)
The Hunger Games(owned by Lionsgate & Color Force)
Battle Royale(owned by Toei Company, AM Associates, Kobi, Nippon Shuppan Hanbai, MF Pictures, WOWOW & Gaga Communications)