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At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1964)
"À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma" (original title)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,701 users  
Reviews: 41 user | 45 critic

A gravedigger prowls the city in search of a female to bear him a son.

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(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1964)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
José Mojica Marins ...
Magda Mei ...
Terezinha
Nivaldo Lima ...
Antônio
Valéria Vasquez ...
Lenita (as Valeria Vasquez)
Ilídio Martins Simões ...
Dr. Rodolfo (as Ilídio Martins)
Arildo Iruam
Genésio de Carvalho ...
(as Genê Carvalho)
Vânia Rangel
Graveto
Robinson Aielo
Avelino Morais
Luana
Leandro Vieira
Antônio Marins ...
S. Francisco
Mário Lima
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Storyline

In a small town, the creepy and violent gravedigger Zé do Caixão is feared by the locals. Zé do Caixão lives with Lenita, who can not deliver a son to him. Obsessed to have a son, Zé do Caixão harasses Terezinha de Oliveira, who is the fiancée of his friend Antônio de Andrade, and kills Lenita with a spider simulating an accident. Then he drowns Antônio and rapes Terezinha expecting to have a baby with her. Terezinha commits suicide but does not accuse Zé do Caixão in his letter. When Dr. Rodolfo decides to request another autopsy of Antônio, Zé do Caixão burns him to death. The inspector Barretos can not prove that Zé do Caixão is the killer, but on the Day of the Dead, the local gypsy warns him that the dead will take his soul to hell. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Plot Keywords:

son | death | rape | suicide | gypsy | See more »

Genres:

Horror

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Details

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Release Date:

9 November 1964 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

With the exception of two exterior scenes, the entire movie was shot inside a 600 square foot studio in São Paulo. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Zé do Caixão: What is life? It is the beginning of death. What is death? It is the end of life! What is existence? It is the continuity of blood. What is blood? It is the reason to exist!
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Connections

Referenced in O Exorcismo Negro (1974) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Coffin Joe's Charmingly Weird Debut
14 November 2009 | by (Salzburg, Austria) – See all my reviews

'Zé do Caixão' aka 'Coffin Joe' is THE essential character in Brazilian Horror cinema, which isn't very prolific otherwise. The character was single-handedly created and played by Brazilian Horror/Exploitation icon José Mojica Marins, who has, over forty-five years, so far played the role of his life in 14 films (most of which he directed and scripted) as well as a TV series. This first film about the deranged gravedigger in search of a woman to bear him a son, "À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma" aka. "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" of 1964 isn't exactly a 'good' Horror film, but it is definitely a highly charming one, which deserves the certain cult-status it enjoys.

The central character, Zé do Caixão (Coffin Joe) is the stereotype of a schlock-horror character (though he often behaves like an everyday bully): a bizarre-looking black-clad fellow with a full beard who sports a top hat, a cape and overlong thumb-nails. Zé (José Mojica Marins), the gravedigger of a small Brazilian town, is generally feared by his fellow citizens, whom he bullies and treats despotically. None of the superstitious and religious townspeople dare to fight back at Zé, who believes neither in God nor in superstition, and who has no scruples whatsoever. Zé has a lovely wife who loves him, but he despises her because she hasn't born him a son. The gravedigger therefore goes out on an unscrupulous search for a woman to bear him a son...

"At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" has many highly clichéd and stereotypical elements, and due to the low budget, it often looks very cheap. This only increases the camp-factor, however, and gives the film a very particular charm. It has to be said that a low budget isn't necessarily an excuse for a cheap look - after all, the sixties brought forth countless brilliant low-budget Gothic Horror films, including productions from countries like Mexico (with amazing films such as "Misterios de Ultratumba" of 1959 or "La Maldición de la Llorona" of 1962). The particular cheapness of "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" is a charming one, however, and though many elements have a cheesy look, it is obvious that writer/director/leading man José Mojica Marins made his first success with a huge love for the genre. Most of the actors are truly amateurish, and probably had no other screen-experience. The film is full of plastic skulls, fake spiders, fake cobwebs, and stereotypical characters (such as a gypsy fortune teller), and though these elements may look amateurish, they simply have to be loved. The film relies on these elements (as well as on the priceless character of Coffin Joe) in order to build up a creepy atmosphere - and, even though it is never suspenseful or even remotely scary, it succeeds in that. As stated above, this is not a good Horror film; in fact, it is highly nonsensical cheese; but it is also a highly charming and weird little film that cult-cinema fans should at least give a try. Personally, highly enjoyed it, and I am now looking forward to see more 'Coffin Joe' films. "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" certainly won't meet everybody's tastes, but it is definitely recommendable to my fellow fans of obscure low-budget Horror and Exploitation/Cult-Cinema in general.


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