At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1964) Poster

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Deranged document of an obsessed fiend
fertilecelluloid1 January 2005
I love the idea of Coffin Joe ("Joseph The Grave"). I love his output. I love that he has channeled his obsessions into movies about deranged, obsessive characters. I can only admire and respect him.

I don't care that his movies are cheap. I don't care that they are slightly inept at times. Ed Wood's movies were cheap and inept, but they were also filled with passion and a neatly formed world view.

They are also rich in texture, designed with love and passion, self-contained and mostly set-bound like early Universal and PRC horror films (STRANGLER IN THE SWAMP, for example).

Jose Majica Marens is a true original and his movies are like nothing else you have ever seen. He enjoys hurling blasphemy at the Catholic church, he likes beating up hypocrites and his Coffin Joe indulges in random violence, rape, scaring women with spiders and general debauchery.

AT MIDNIGHT I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL has a single-mindedness about it that makes it lovable. Joe wants only one thing -- to find a woman who will bear him a son. Since he's a brutal, loud, angry man, women aren't returning his calls, so he's frustrated. This frustration fuels virtually all of his movies.

Meeting Coffin Joe for the first time can be either a confusing, bewildering experience or the start of a beautiful relationship. It was the latter for me.
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two minutes to midnite
Semih18 August 2003
It's very impressive and ambitious for Jose Mojica Marins to get this project done when he had only 15 cans of negative film stock to start with, 2 of which got stolen leaving him only 13, and not having a main actor so having to play the part himself. Most of locations were indoor sets, except for one outdoor location. Although it may seem like the lack of planning and abrupt decisions could have affected the outcome, it in fact did not. This film has some great work, starting from Jose's performance with his monologues and single take unedited continuous scenes, all the way through the very impressive set and production design and special effects. They actually manually glued glitter on the negative to get that cheap effect of halo around the spirits. I always give credit to people who are willing to get things done no matter what the budget or circumstances. Several hair raising moments make me think that this film must have been really scary for it's time 40 years ago. Overall, this is a brilliant film that is very cinematic and relies on traditional but very effective tricks of the trade to make it work.

Almost like a "the seventh seal" for horror films.
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Dark Night of the Soul
chaos-rampant5 August 2008
This is my first forray into the wonderful world of Coffin Joe, and having read about Marins and his films was still not enough to prepare me. Not because "At Midnight..." is a great film by any set of conventional standards; it's a low-budget affair and it looks like it. What really makes it compelling is how passionate it is in all its blackly surreal glory.

Coffin Joe (Ze Do Caixao) is the atheist, unscrupulous undertaker of a small, religious community somewhere in Brazil. This set-bound place is more of a (at times too) convenient playground for Marins to explore his dark fantasies than any sort of realistic community. Its inhabitants are mere props to be abused, scoffed and laughed at. A sizeable guy who dares to stand up to him gets whipped in the face. His sole preoccupation is to find a woman worthy to bear him a son and thus "continue his bloodline". Coffin Joe strides through this fictional (and perhaps symbolic in Marin's mind) world, mocking the superstitious villagers, defying god, Satan and the dead, sometimes all of them together in a matter of minutes.

If "At Midnight..." is set apart from every other horror movie of its time, it's because the morbid, macabre imagery (skulls, plastic bats, cobwebs, tarantulas; you know the drill) is undercut by a Nietzche-esquire atheism that bites. At times it's as if the whole movie serves as nothing more than Marins' soapbox, his way of venting against the conservative and religious. How much of what Coffin Joe declares in the film are meant to be serious is anyone's guess. However it's exactly the fact that it works so well on a camp level (like a blasphemous Ed Wood flick) that redeems the film from all heavy-handedness.

In that aspect, and as far as what one would expect from an early 60's horror movie, "At Midnight..." is both avant-garde in its own micro-budget, often crude but unashamedly enthusiastic way and surrealistic. Mandatory viewing for fans of cult movies and I hear the sequels are better which I'll have to see for myself.
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Great Cult Horror Movie
claudio_carvalho23 June 2011
In a small town, the creepy and violent gravedigger Zé do Caixão (José Mojica Marins) is feared by the locals. Zé do Caixão lives with Lenita (Valeria Vasquez), who can not deliver a son to him. Obsessed to have a son, Zé do Caixão harasses Terezinha de Oliveira (Magda Mei), who is the fiancée of his friend Antônio de Andrade (Nivaldo Lima) 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 (Ilídio Martins) 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.

"À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma" is a great cult horror movie from the also cult-director José Mojica Marins, a.k.a. Zé do Caixão in Brazil and Coffin Joe overseas. This is a low-budget rough film supported by a good story and performances with passion, dialogs with blasphemy and lots of gore. Further, this film is ahead of time with a very disturbing story for 1964, but recommended only to very specific audience. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma" ("At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul")
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At Midnight I Will Take Your Nailclippers.
BA_Harrison31 May 2015
At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul marks the debut of Brazilian director José Mojica Marins' cult character Zé do Caixão (AKA Coffin Joe), a sadistic undertaker who will go to any lengths to find a woman to bear his son (it's not easy to find a willing mate when you're a leering, sadistic creep in dire need of a stylist—those nails, that hat, the cape: they've just got to go!). To understand the film's importance in the annals of horror, one must put it into context: when it was originally released in 1964, the amoral nature of Marins' bizarre creation would have been extremely shocking to its native, largely Catholic audience—a truly disturbing villain who pushed the boundaries of taste.

However, in today's cinematic climate, where blasphemy is no longer such a taboo, and violence has been pushed to extremes, At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul no longer possesses such an impact…

As played by Marins, Zé comes across like a camp cape-swishing pantomime villain, more likely to elicit laughter than fear. His wanton behaviour is almost comical, as he proceeds to do whatever the hell he likes, raping and killing at will, the locals cowering in fear rather than forming a lynch mob and dealing with the fiend en masse, as they could so easily do. The film also features such trite spooky elements as a wizened old gypsy hag who warns Zé of his impending doom, a stuffed owl screeching from a tree, a raging thunderstorm, a foggy graveyard, and a ghost surrounded by badly animated glitter. One or two moments still hint at the power the film would have had on its original release—the brutal beating of Zé's friend's fiancée, Terenzinha, is surprisingly vicious, and the savage mutilation of a man's hand with a broken bottle was clearly explicit for the era—but there's almost nothing here to cause concern for modern day horror fans, making this one of interest only to cult movie addicts interested in seeing outdated oddities for the sake of completion.

5/10 for making me laugh a bit.
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Interesting Indie Supernatural Thriller
suspiria1030 October 2002
I was scouring the local mass media a/v store when on a cart I saw a title that caught my eye. Shaped like a coffin was this box set sitting with one of his twins. Being a horror fan I couldn't help but be interested (It looked very similar to a Misfits box set some moons ago).The title of this set was simply "The Coffin Joe Trilogy". My mind raced back to all those years of Fangoria stockpiled in the back of my mind. I grabbed, I bought and I loved every minute of the set. The first film which ,according to the notes on the inside, is a phenomena in Brazil. The character Coffin Joe is the local cinema boogeyman (ala Fred Krueger)and yet again teaches us that the lack of a budget only stimulates creativity. 8/10
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Somebody Get This Dude A Nail Clipper For Xmas!
ferbs5419 October 2007
The Brazilian film "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" (1963) features a character who is a strong contender for the most hateful, obnoxious, despicable, slimy and loathsome creature in horror movie history. He is Ze do Caixao, a name that, loosely translated from the Portuguese, means Coffin Joe, and he would go on to become a wildly popular figure in Brazilian culture over the years; kind of like an amalgam of Baron Samedi and Freddy Krueger. As played by the film's director, Jose Mojica Marins, Ze is quite unforgettable. Bearded, caped and top hatted, he bullies and browbeats the inhabitants of his small village, and does away with those closest to him, all in his sick pursuit to father a son and continue his bloodline. Perhaps most shocking, in the largely Catholic country of Brazil, he is a taunting atheist, who eats meat on Good Friday and even forces others to do the same! No living person seems able to stand up to Ze. But the unliving...ah, perhaps that's another story.... Filmed on the cheap, this picture still works marvelously, featuring as it does many scenes of casual and brutal violence (wait'll you see what Ze does to his barren mistress), some interesting FX (I love that glittery ghost!), fairly intense acting (especially by Marins and that gypsy witch), and a very freaky score (wails, screams, echo effects, etc.). One scene in particular is very fine; the one in which Ze rails against heaven and hell during a thunderstorm and drunkenly demands that God and all spirits do him harm. Pretty intense stuff. Anyway, that gypsy woman, at the film's beginning, warns us NOT to watch this picture, as it will make us suffer, but I'm glad that I stayed with it. And oh...a modern-day interview with Marins is included on this DVD. If you want to see something REALLY scary, take a look at his fingernails!
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fluffhead3419 January 2007

I saw "Coffin Joe: At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" last Friday (1/12/07) on IFC's new "Grindhouse". I have to say that I laughed my ass off through the whole picture. Notbecause it was dumb or not an authentic horror film, I'm sure is was quite frightening in 1964 and probably the first horror film made in Brazil. What was so amusing to me was the character of Coffin Joe,known to the townspeople as "Ze do Caixao". Director, writer and star Jose Mojica Marins created one of the most memorable characters that I've ever seen in horror films, or any films for that matter. At the beginning of the film, we are warned by a gypsy fortune teller to leave the theater if you are not sure of your courage, after 2 minutes she says "too late! it's midnight! stay if you think you are brave!" The story opens on a Friday night when the Catholic tradition is to abstain from meat, I believe that Brazil is almost exclusively Catholic. So, Coffin Joe being an atheist, sits at his window eating a leg of lamb and laughing as he watches the Catholic precession go by, SO EVIL! Later at the local tavern he forces a local to eat from another leg of lamb. Soon his sins become much larger and murder is just one of them. I loved the camera work, especially the close ups of Joe's eyes with one eyebrow raised. Joe is the town's undertaker, funeral director, and gravedigger all in one, and dresses in a black suit with a cape and a top-hat. Joe/Jose's long curled fingernails (real), complete the picture! I recommend this film to anyone who loves camp or open to the bizarre!
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Truly twisted,surreal and hallucinatory masterpiece.
HumanoidOfFlesh19 July 2003
Jose Mojica Marins "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" is the first horror film shot in Brazil.Coffin Joe(Ze Do Caixao)quickly became a kind of national hero and a star of screen and television.The plot is simple:Marins plays an unholy undertaker who terrorizes a small,religious and conservative Brazilian village.He scoffs at their religion and superstitions and threatens them physically as well.The film is truly atmospheric-there are skeletons,candles,bats,spiders etc.There is also plenty of mildly shocking violence to satisfy fans of grisly horror.Coffin Joe looks very creepy-he dresses in a black suit,black cloak,and black top hat.This wondefully mean and hateful character provided what,at the same time,was the most blasphemous,ugly and sinful motion picture the people of Brazil had ever experienced.So if you're a fan of Mario Bava's Gothic shockers give this film a look.10 out of 10.
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Based on everything I knew about it, I thought this one was destined to be a winner
bensonmum213 May 2006
Over the years, I've gotten pretty good at spotting movies I know I'm going to enjoy. While many of these don't turn out to be in my Top 10 or anything, I generally find these movies enjoyable at a minimum. That's not the case with At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul. Given its cult following, subject matter, and recommendations from trusted individuals, I thought this one was destined to be a winner. I couldn't have been more wrong.

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul is the first of the Brazilian Coffin Joe films. Jose Mojica Marins is Zé do Caixão, the mortician in a small town he holds sway over through physical and psychological threats. He's not above committing murder to get his way. The film has a lot of surreal imagery going for it that is interesting to look at. It's too bad that it's all for naught as the film is so deadly dull. All the interesting set decoration and eye candy in the world can't save it. Zé makes an interesting character, but he hardly looks like the big tough guy, bullying around everyone in town. He's more like a skinny little kid playing dress-up with a cape and top hat who throws tempter tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants. I still don't understand why a couple of the husky Brazilian townsfolk didn't get together and beat the snot out of Zé. Finally, there's the ending. After and hour and some odd minutes of At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul, I hoped my experience could be salvaged by a strong finale. Again, I was disappointed. That has to be one of the more unsatisfying endings I've seen recently.

Despite what I've written, I haven't given up on Coffin Joe just yet. I still plan to give This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse a chance. I only hope its better.
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Coffin Joe's Charmingly Weird Debut
Witchfinder-General-66614 November 2009
'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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Stupid, disgusting and boring
preppy-310 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Story about a funeral owner named Ze (Jose Mojica Marins) in some small Bazilian town. For some reason, he terrorizes the town mutilating people left and right. For whatever reason no one tries to stop him even when he cuts two fingers off a man and whips another brutally. His wife Lenita can't bear him children so he kills her. He then sets his sights on Terezhima, a girlfriend of his one friend Antonio. He drowns Antonio and beats Terezhima until she's bleeding and then rapes her. The movie goes on and on but I'm sure you get the idea.

This is a no budget and pretty sick horror film. I know Ze (called "Coffin Joe" here in the U.S.) has his fans but I can't see why. There's next to no story line and it just shows us one scene after another of people being brutally beaten or killed. With the sole exception of Marins the acting is poor and the "special" effects are so obvious it's almost pretty funny. Wait till you see the ghosts that appear at the end! I only give this a 4 because I DO have to give Marins credit for making such a gory film in 1964. Also the non gore scenes--especially the ones in the forest and graveyard--are actually pretty atmospheric and the wild sound effects on the soundtrack (screaming and demonic laughter) actually work. Those scenes remind me (in a good way) of the old Universal horror movies of the 1930s and 40s.

Still, this is a stupid and sick little horror item with bad acting and is surprisingly boring. What got to me was that nobody does anything when Ze is casually torturing people. Everyone just stands around like a bunch of idiots and watch. And wait till you see the witch here--talk about bad acting and overdoing it...
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A fantastic exercise in bargain basement surrealism! (possible spoilers)
Infofreak26 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
(warning - possible spoilers ahead!)

I've heard about Coffin Joe (Jose Mojica Marins) for quite some time, but actually getting to SEE his movies hasn't been all that easy. Anyway, I've finally managed to see one, 'At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul', and what a strange movie it is! It might not actually work as horror, but it's fascinating to watch just the same. It appears to have been made on an extremely small budget, and that combined with Marins' twisted worldview makes it quite unlike anything else I've seen. Marins not only directs but stars as Ze, a sadistic gravedigger who is obsessed with having a woman bear his son. He's a violent bully who terrorizes the townsfolk in a small village, and scoffs at religion, even taunting them by the blasphemous act of eating meat on their Holy day. Ze's mistress is barren, so he murders her (using a spider!). He then kills his only friend and rapes his fiancee when she won't comply with his wishes. The sheer nastiness of the Coffin Joe character is unusual. He really is an utter bastard! A local gypsy woman warns him that he will be punished for his sins at midnight. He laughs it off but eventually comes to worry that there might be some truth in her predictions. As it begins to get closer to 12 Ze becomes increasingly agitated. The closing sequences of the movie are striking and extremely memorable. 'At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul' might have been designed as "just" a horror movie but its startling imagery pushes it into even weirder territory. Like 'Glen Or Glenda', 'The Tingler' and 'Carnival Of Souls' it's a fantastic exercise in bargain basement surrealism. If you like odd and strange movies you'll love Coffin Joe!
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zetes9 August 2003
Well, my curiosity about Coffin Joe is now satisfied. And, boy, am I glad I didn't waste money on Fantoma's box set of the trilogy! Thank you, Netflix! It's a dull, dull horror film about an undertaker who doesn't cut his fingernails and terrorizes a small Brazilian town. He wants to have a son by a young woman, his friend's girlfriend, and he stops at nothing to accomplish that goal. It's not scary at all, nor is it very visually interesting. Horror is a genre that has historically been very innovative and inventive, especially when the filmmakers are working on a shoestring budget, but this has, for the most part, the production values of a soap opera. It does have a pretty good finale, but the rest of the film is rather worthless. 4/10.
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Somebody, please bear that guy a son!
Coventry21 November 2007
Brazil inarguably brings forward the most gifted football (or soccer) players in the world, but it's definitely not the country with the greatest history for horror cinema. Actually, Coffin Joe (José Mojica Marins) is the nation's ONLY horror icon, so if you're not an admirer of him, Brazilian horror hasn't got much else to offer you. And unfortunately for me, I wasn't too impressed after my first acquaintance with the man's work. He has quite a lot of fans who admire what he achieved using such a minimum of budget. Admittedly the budget for "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" was next to none, but I hardly find that an excuse, as several directors have accomplished great classic without any money. The Val Lewton films ("I Walked with a Zombie", "Cat People"), for example, were tense and atmospheric without costing a penny and Roger Corman even built up an entire empire on low-budget B-movies! The Coffin Joe movies revolve too much on … Coffin Joe himself. He's an awkward and very unsympathetic undertaker with extremely long fingernails, an explosive temper and an unusually deranged obsession with finding a woman to bear him a son. His own wife is infertile, apparently, so he gets rid of her and goes after the lovely fiancée of his best friend. Meanwhile, the entire community is petrified of him and the local swamp-witch even put the titular curse on him. The film is very slow moving, too monotonous and especially too silly to be called a classic in the genre. Going on a murder spree because no woman can bear your son is already implausible enough, but then Coffin Joe also goes around chopping off people's fingers and beating the crap out of villagers in a local tavern without the police guys ever charging him with anything. I can't imagine the events and characters depicted in "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" were ever frightening, not even in 1964. Laughably cheap scenery (bats on strings, fake owls…), and a hysterically driveling witch are hardly menacing and what's so scary about a weirdo who constantly nags about wanting a son, anyway? There are, however, a handful of surprisingly nasty and mean-spirited moments (including a vicious death by spider) and the two female leads Magda Mei and Valéria Vasquez are strangely attractive. The climax is hugely disappointing. Presumably it leaves all options open for the sequel, entitled "This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse", but I'm in no hurry to check that one out.
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A Must-See for the Rob Zombie Set!
shacklyn7 July 2007
You have to be a fan of niche horror films to like this one. The film is very noir, and features a lot of low-budget effects that many current directors would love to replicate.

The movie is Brazilian, filmed in the early 60's, spoken in Portugese, subtitled, and filmed in black and white. The director seems to have been influenced by a lot of the old Hollywood classics, like Dracula (Legosi) and White Zombie.

For its time, this movie must have been an outrage. At the same time that Connery was playing it cool as Bond in Goldfinger, this movie was out there - depicting graphic violence, murder, and rape. The violence is very stylized, and the plot is very straightforward.

A local mortician, who runs around with a psychotic expression, long fingernails, a cape, and a top-hat, thumbs his nose at local authority and religion. He's grown tired of his wife, who is barren, but he lusts for his best friend's girlfriend, who he hopes can bear him a child. This all leads to violent run-ins with the locals, gratuitous violence, and murder. There's even the requisite scene with the local, creepy fortune-teller, who warns the characters of trouble on the horizon.

Over half the scenes are like watching something out of a Rob Zombie video. This movie is far from scary. In fact, I found myself laughing through most of it. The close-ups of the actors' faces are priceless.

To rate this movie is somewhat difficult. As a niche horror movie, I have given it 8 out of 10; although, most people would rate it as a 2 or a 3 - due to its shoestring budget and horrible overacting.

If it's a cheap horror movie, chances are I have seen it. That being said, I haven't seen anything quite like this one. If you enjoy cheap horror movies like 10,000 Maniacs, Bloodsucking Freaks, or Color Me Blood Red, you should enjoy this movie.
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Waste of Time
rstef13 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Having read the positive reviews on this site, and anxious for something different, I thought I'd give this film a try. What a mistake.

For starters, the film moves at a snail's pace, with a lot of dialog and scenes being endlessly repeated. Though the film only runs 81 minutes, it feels like a lot longer. I cannot understand how this earned its small cult following.

The budget seems almost non-existent. Sets and costumes look really cheap, and the special effects are tragic. In the close ups, before he kills his victims, Ze's eyes become bloodshot and lined, but in mid-range shots we can clearly see that they are perfectly white. And the procession of the dead at the end looks merely laughable. The ghost of Antonio is outlined in bad animated dots that look they belong in the film Xanadu. The rest of the ghosts have to settle for being shown in negative, with Terezinha smoking. Wow.

Jose Marins, as Coffin Joe/Ze, and the actress who plays the witch, overact like there is no tomorrow. There is not a piece of scenery left unchewed in their scenes. Both are really playing to the back rows, unfortunately this is a film, not theater. The rest of the cast, realizing they are unable to keep up with these two hams, simply do not bother acting at all.

I will give the film a star for trying. Like Ed Wood before him, Jose Marins clearly has a love for this type of movie, and wrote it, directed and starred in it with gusto. A misplaced and overzealous gusto admittedly, but gusto nonetheless.
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Cool Old-School Cheezy Brazilian Horror...
EVOL66617 April 2006
I actually really dug the sh!t out of this one. The character of Coffin Joe is just such an all-around dick, that ya just gotta love him. He just don't give a f!ck - he'll whip ya, poke your eyes out, rape your girl - it just don't matter to him, cuz like ol' Joe'll tell you himself - when he wants something, he gets it...

Coffin Joe is the local undertaker and a pretty creepy cat with his black suit, cape, top-hat, and long and pointy fingernails. He goes around bullying and beating up the locals whenever he sees fit and nobody does anything about it. Seems that Joe's pimp-hand is pretty strong around his parts. When his barren wife can't produce him a child, he decides to kill her. He thinks his best friend's fiancée is hot, so he kills him too. When the fiancée won't have anything to do with him, he rapes her. She ends up killing herself out of shame. Now if this all sounds real morbid - it kinda is (in a "funny" sort of way...), but don't fret - ol' Joe will get his too...

Definitely dated but what can you say for a zero-budget Brazilian flick from 1964? I think the subject matter and the way it is handled must have been pretty racy for the time, and I got a real kick out of Joe's "don't-give-a-damn" attitude. Not a true "masterpiece" by any means, but a strange and quirky early horror entry from an area that wasn't real well-known for their horror film contributions. Also the film doesn't really drag so it's pretty easy to get through. I'd say to have a few drinks and give this one a shot - I really enjoyed it..8.5/10
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A Classic in every sense of the word
slayrrr66613 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"At Midnight, I'll Take Your Soul" is one of the most original and clever films around.


Tired of being a gravedigger in his town, Ze do Caixao, (Jose Mojica Marins) spends his free time with Terezinha, (Magda Mei) the fiancée of Antonio, (Nivaldo Lima) his best friend. Complaining about his wife Lenita, (Valeria Vasquez) and her inability to bear a child, he sets out to find a woman in the village to give one to him, but they all fail. Terezinha also wishes him to leave her alone, and he is so enraged he cuts a path of destruction through the village over anyone that stands up or opposes him. When they determine that he has done enough, the spirits of the damned arise from their graves and seek their vengeance against him.

The News: This was a really impressive surprise and an entertaining film. The one thing that stands out the most in here is the overt and downright confrontational religious themes present. The ranting in the doctor's home, where after delivering a series of jabs at the church, the utter denouncement of all things religious is made, and it still packs a wallop. The utter contempt for the fears and superstitions of the town, from laughing at the priest while eating a piece of lamb meat on Good Friday, to committing several acts strongly adhered against religious doctrine, to the berating and beating down the others who think differently, all reinforce that assumption, and are made to believe that the fear is based on superstitious nonsense. Even the contempt of using a headband from a religious statue as a tool for beating in a fight becomes symbolic of the fact that religion is beating down those who view it as being peaceful and forgiving when it's forceful and oppressive is the final nail in the coffin for the metaphor. There's other aspects of the film, such as the memorable images created in here. The first time the titular character is on-screen, with the flowing cape, uni-brow, top hat and uncharacteristically long fingernails, all create a unique certainly menacing villain. His grand variations and wild movement make him all the more eccentric, and it's useful in making him different from the other crazed types out there. The one area where it's hard to top the film is the atmosphere. This is a really impressively designed film, where the film has a really creepy feel. The strange feeling whenever we're in town is exemplified by the strange behavior of the residents and until we get an explanation about who he is, the scenes with them frightened at the sight of him make for some really tense moments. The one scene that is unquestionably a masterpiece concerns the ending, which is so masterful that it really just stands out in the film. The cemetery where the action takes place is one of the most visually arresting cemeteries around, with giant bushes and trees around, creepy candles littering the ground and an air of morbid and unease around it. From the moment he walks in, with the wind howling over the trees and the voice-over explaining his demise and the ways it will come about, are nothing short of jittering and supremely suspenseful. As the other warnings start to come true in spectacular fashion, the dawning of it becomes apparent and the visions increase even more readily. The ethereal voices with the chanting in the background and the increasingly more out-of-control situations that transpire make the whole sequence a real highlight that has a hard time being topped. The brutality of the violence is also quite pleasant, and there is some nice deaths in here. From the slow, tortuous scene where a victim is slowly subjected to a spider slowly crawling over their leg and biting on the neck, to the repeatedly bashing over the head with blunt objects or a spiked headband, this one does have some very brutal, and intriguing kills in it. This is one pleasant surprise for a film.

The Final Verdict: One of the most impressive horror films around, and a debut film just as good as anything out there, this was an extremely pleasant and rewarding surprise. Highly recommended to the most open of minds, as the themes present may not be for everyone, but is certainly worthy of a watch at any rate.

Rated UR/R: Graphic Violence and a mild Rape
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Imagine if Ed Wood had been a Brazilian egomaniac....
bukkiah-12 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The late film critic Dwight Macdonald once commented on the somewhat patronizing attitude displayed by French critics towards American cinema: "They seem to regard our movies as interesting specimens of native handicraft, like birch bark canoes." Many Americans seem prone to this also, given some of the comments I've read having recently seen "At Mignight I'll Take Your Soul" and it's follow-up "This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse" (those two titles by the way are absolutely interchangeable). The writer/director/star Jose Mojica Marins gets a lot of credit for this having been "the first Brazilian horror movie" and for having next to no budget; some even feel he's a "visionary" of sorts. Psychotics have visions too but we don't generally pay to see those (although of course in the old days "respectable" people went on guided tours through asylums). I don't care if a given movie is the first of it's kind or the last or in the middle, nor do I care what it cost to make. We can only go by what's in front of us, or at least I only can.

What I saw in front of me on my TV screen (thank my lucky stars I didn't pay to rent or---gasp---buy this) was the most god awful piece of crap I've seen since---I don't know---the last of the "Chucky" series, maybe. I'm not sure where to start; maybe the outlandish premise: Mr Mojica Marins plays an undertaker in some remote village who looks like a fourth-rate vaudeville magician; when he "shocked" villagers by proclaiming he would eat meat on some day that apparently is supposed to be meatless, I half expected him to take off his black top hat, pull out a rabbit and start chomping on it--in fact that would have been more amusing than anything that did occur. This "Ze" wields godlike power in this particular village; it's never clear exactly why this is. One of the movie's many laughably chintzy special effects involves Ze's eyes turning bloodshot whenever he gets annoyed; maybe that puts everybody into a trance a la Svengali or something. Thus people stand around like zombies as Ze goes about whipping people in the face or hacking off fingers with a broken bottle or anything else he feels like doing. He also commits murder with impunity; these scenes begin somewhat promisingly but then peter out. There's an odd tameness to all the proceedings; nothing very scary or exciting or erotic ever happens. Ze spends lots of time deriding religion and daring God to strike him dead and is obsessed with having a son due to "the immortality of blood" or some such. This groping towards some kind of existentialist philosophizing would be more impressive if Ze had any interests other than sneering at people and generally being a jerk. He's a garden-variety bully and only would have merited a few minutes of screen time in a Stephen King flick. In one brief scene Ze admonishes a father to treat his son better but otherwise does nothing to demonstrate he's anything but scum himself.

There are only two styles of acting on display, catatonic and maniacal (Mr. Mojica Marins mostly employs the latter). The only semi-enjoyable character is a deranged gypsy fortune teller who addresses the camera warning the audience not to watch what follows (that's one astute gypsy) and who occasionally pops up to warn Ze of his impending doom. The special effects make, let's say, "Tormented" look like Steven Spielberg. Towards the end a ghost character has some kind of aura that looks like it was drawn on the film itself a la Kenneth Anger; Mojica Marins also resorts to reverse black-and-white for other ghosts. It would've been about as effective if he'd merely had actors dress up in sheets. The sequel was more of the same except for straining credulity even further, if possible. "Corpse" did differ from "Soul" in featuring a color sequence in the middle of Ze dreaming about being in hell. This sequence should be required viewing in every Sunday school in the Christian world; it it's not enough to turn any normal kid into a questioner of dogmatism, then nothing is, or to paraphrase what H. G. Wells wrote about Fritz Lang's "Metropolis": "Either the sequence is hopelessly silly or the afterlife is hopelessly silly, one thing or the other..." Sure, it's fun sometimes when one comes across an "obscure gem" of some kind, although usually that obscurity turns out to be justified. Apparently Mojica Marins has done lots of other work in the following forty years, none of which I am inclined to ferret out. I understand he's a kind of cult figure in Brazil; well that's Brazil then, isn't it. If you see it on some cable movie channel, please follow the fortune teller's advice and don't waste your time. You'd be better off following the Brazilian soap "La Esclava Isaura" (as it's called in Spanish) on Telemundo; there's more unsettling human drama in five minutes of that than in Mr. Mojica Marins' entire opus, or opi?
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So bad it's good!
ChelseaGirl9813 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This could truly be one of the worst films I've ever seen, but it's so bad it's fun to watch. It's a bit like a car wreck...horrifying but you can't turn away. I was compelled to keep watching it just to see how much worse it could get.

The plot isn't bad, but the acting is over the top and the special effects are hilariously bad. But if you like campy films, this one's for you.

I also confess to having difficulty watching a film about someone who is such a bully, because if this guy tried to touch me I'd kick his ass, even if I had to bash his head in with a baseball bat. Everyone in the film was such a spineless wimp it was sickening. It would have been so easy for them to kill him together because there is strength in numbers, but the townspeople were apparently too stupid to realize this.

In any case, if you want some mindless fun, check it out.
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Needs to get his nails clipped
macabro3579 July 2003

Supposedly the first Brazilian horror movie ever made, it definitely is the 1st Coffin Joe film ever made. And no, I don't consider it a 'masterpiece' like another reviewer had stated, earlier.

Joe is a maker of coffins who goes around with a top hat and long fingernails. He's also a sadist and a bully who intimidates all those around him and plays upon their superstitions.

Some sadistic acts Coffin Joe commits include cutting off the finger of a card cheat during a poker game, horsewhipping another in the saloon where they all drink and congregate, killing his infertile housekeeper with a tarantula because she can't bear him a son, and then killing the boyfriend of a woman he lusts after with a fireplace poker.

This is not the kind of guy I'd want in my neighborhood. I guess he was considered the Freddie Krueger of his time (since the Coffin Joe series was very popular in Brazil) but without the camp humor Wes Craven gave to that series.

Anyway, a gypsy woman warns Joe that his end is near and that at midnight, the dead will rise up and take his soul. It's only after Joe prevents a local doctor from filing a police report by gouging his eyes out and then setting him on fire, that we know Joe will soon meet his maker.

The ending scene where the townsfolk find him dead of fright with his face all deformed and twisted, seems anti-climatic to me. Joe deserves a far worse fate than what director Jose Mojica Marins gives him here. He got off too easy, imo.

And as stagy as the film looks, it's not all that bad. The film stock they used looks like it was taken from the 1940s, not the 1960s, giving the film an older feel to it than it actually is. It enhances the atmosphere, imo. And yeah, the gypsy woman's skulls look like paper-maché and not the real thing. I guess they couldn't find real ones or the budget was too small.

But no matter…it entertained me enough with the politically-incorrect sadism that Marins gives to the leading character, that I'm gonna give it a 6 out of 10 for a decent first entry into the series.
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Born a legend.......Coffin Joe!!
elo-equipamentos25 September 2018
Few brazilian filmakers could be compared with this legendary man named Zé do Caixão or Coffin Joe by foreign people,due the strange manners how we have been treating ours heroes he was recognized firstly worldwide before of own country,it's shown a terrible inversion of values,in this picture Zé do Caixão works as craftsman engagement a uphil struggle on a low budge movie,such conditions shall be measured this valuable work of passion,he acctually dared handling with the brazilian folkore,even defied against catholic's custons as eating meat at good friday,screaming and calling by spirits on cemetery at midnight,a true evil man on a small village,cursed by an old Gypsy woman he gave us one most remarkable scene when he try get kindle fire to your pipe suddenly appers a hand hold a candle to him all this with special effects around the hand,symply unthinkable to those time,more he used some sexual apealling allowed until the border, a true gem of terror and a honor for all brazilian people have the weird and bizzare character developed by José Mojica Marins in Brazil!!

In time: He is fanatic supporter of the Corinthians as he says many times!!


First watch: 2010 / How many: 2 / Source: DVD / Rating: 9
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not for the squeamish, but worth a watch for the adventurous
MisterWhiplash11 April 2016
You might expect that a horror movie from the 50s or 60s won't age well if it comes from not just a low-budget but from Brazil, but this is directed and acted with a really unique take on what an undertaker... does, basically. It follows the travails of Coffin Joe, who finds women and, well, I shouldn't say too much about what happens except that it really involves his wife who he tries to eliminate, and then sets his eyes to make sure his seed gets into the gypsy fiancée of his good friend.

A lot of the appeal comes down to how Marins is as an actor, but also how he makes his low budget work for him. I don't think a studio budget, even from Corman or other, would do for this; this is more along the lines of what Bunuel had to work with in Mexico in the 50's. But what's keen is just how creepy this character is, how devilish and evil and so much fun to watch. This isn't to say it all works, and it may be the kind of early-foreign Grindhouse fare that is hard to categorize, but like Bunuel it also has its knives out in regards to religion (though not in the ways you'd expect).

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul is grotesque, brutal, campy, illogical, arguably both pro AND anti-woman (but also just as arguably anti-religion, or anti-a-hole-atheists who laugh in the face of, um, witches), surreal, and fun when it's not too weird. also gotta hand it to the director/star for the Day of the Dead finale, which bumps up this rating a full star.
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