Saturday, 21 April 2012

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse

1967, Brazil, Directed by José Mojica Marins
B&W/Colour, Running Time: 109 minutes
Review Source: DVD, R2, Anchor Bay; Video: 1.33:1, Audio: DD Mono

Zé do Caixão is saved from his demise at the end of the first film (At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul) and the lucky recipient of a stellar plastic surgery job at the hands of Brazillian doctors, before being brought to trial for his crimes. Found not guilty due to lack of evidence (!) he's let back into the community (kind of sounds like the British justice system actually...), much to the chagrin of the local population, members of which haven't yet forgotten about his dastardly behaviour. Still committed to continuing his blood line at all costs he kidnaps a number of females who he considers to be potentially suitable partners (they seem to remain remarkably calm about this whilst in captivity) and subjects them to tests to determine who is 'superior'. Selecting his mate he impregnates her and soon the child, the new son of mankind to be driven by instinct and not God, is on its way, but not before Zé is running into more problems with the locals as a result of his rebellious behaviour.
Running much longer than the first film, This Night... (AKA Esta Noite Encarnarei no Teu Cadáver) does not appear to be quite as horrific, possibly this being partly as a result of the slightly desensitized impact of Zé's activities after we've already witnessed his malicious actions in At Midnight... The lengthier duration maybe stretches things out a little too much, leaving the tormenting of the main character more space to breathe whilst diminishing its intensity. This film does introduce some nudity, and arachnophobes who found the infamous spider scene in the first film to be an issue will be rather horrified to find another sequence in this film, but with crawlies multiplied by around a hundred (again, very large and very real spiders - the actresses in this scene had some bottle!). Hinted at in the first film, Zé's one redeeming characteristic is his respect for children in the sense that he sees their blank canvas purity as something to be savioured before they are mutated by society into the undesriables that largely make up the population. The film's dropkick show piece takes place when the disturbed Zé falls asleep with his mate, and has a nightmare of entering Hell: the film switches to colour, this itself being quite profound in impact, as Zé wonders through the caverns of Hell as souls are tortured everywhere he looks, possibly a reflection of the state of his mind or his fears of where he might end up if God did exist (something he persistently denies). This riveting sequence has unexpected power, and reminds me of a similar segment in Dante's Inferno, which you may remember contained a stunning fear-driven nightmare where the protagonist visits Hell. I personally really like Marins' emphatic and venemous approach to acting out this character, his uncontrollable passion spilling forth and keeping this second film in the series very watchable despite the inflated running time.

Contained in the same set as At Midnight... the second film is presented in the same ratio with a rough appearance that suits the material well. Audio is again Portugese with burned-in English subtitles. Problems with interlacing are occasional, and shouldn't really be there at all, but the very fact that these rare films have been made available in the UK is cause for commendation.

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