aka This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse
(Esta Noite Encarnarei No Teu Cadaver)
Director – Jose Mojica Marins, Screenplay – Aldenora De Sa Porto & Jose Mojica Marins, Producer – Augusto Pereira, Photography (b&w + some scenes colour) – Giorgio Attili, Music – Hermino Gimenez, Production Design – Jose Vedovato. Production Company – Iberia Ltda
Jose Mojica Marins (Ze do Caixao), Tina Wohlers (Laura), Nadia Freitas (Marcia), Antonio Fracari (Truncador), Jose Lobo (Bruno), Roque Rodrigues (The Colonel)
The gravedigger Ze do Caixao is released by the courts because there is not enough evidence to convict him. He immediately resumes his quest to find the perfect woman to bear him a child. He abducts a group of women and subjects them to a series of tortures. Of the women, only Marcia is not frightened and so he decides she will bear his child. Ze is then taken by the arrival in town of The Colonel’s daughter Laura and determines to meet her. She proves his perfect match and says she has been waiting for him. When he sees the attraction between the two, The Colonel brings in a group of hired thugs to kill Ze.
Tonight I’ll Possess Your Corpse, which would also appear to equally translate as This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse, was the second of the Ze do Caixao films directed by and starring Jose Mojica Marins. Marins started the series out with At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964) in which he directed, wrote and played the central character of Ze do Caixao (which translates as Coffin Joe), a demoniac undertaker who spits on morality and religion, while relishing in acts of cruelty and sadism. Ze do Caixao became a cult figure and was spun out in several other films of loose connection, even a comic-book. The only two direct sequels to the original however were Tonight I’ll Possess Your Corpse here and Embodiment of Evil (2008), which was made over four decades later. (See below for Jose Mojica Marins’ other genre films).
To Jose Mojica Marins’ credit, he is doing something a little more than simply making a typical sequel, which usually sets out to offer up the same as before except slightly different and more of it. To this extent, Tonight I’ll Possess Your Corpse has Ze back and still ranting about how pathetic belief in morality and religion is, while offering up his brutal and contemptuous solutions to the weak-minded who do believe. Not much has changed here, excepting perhaps that Marins’ philosophical outpourings have been spent in the first film and there is little that is new to his proclamations and less time spent on them.
This offers up more of the same scenes with Ze killing people, although the tortures here have become more sophisticated. In the early scenes, he abducts several women, locks them in a room and releases a cluster of spiders whereupon we get some wonderfully fetishistic closeups of the spiders crawling up legs, across panty-clad asses and emerging from the cleavages of screaming women. Nadia Freitas is the only of the women to remain unscared by all this and Ze decides she will be his – in a beautifully twisted image, he settles down to bed her while opening a window in the floor to show all the other women cowering in a room as a nest of poisonous snakes are released. Earlier, Ze tells his hunchback retainer (Jose Lobo) he can have whichever girl he chooses and he is allowed to take her away only to snap her neck and return with the body whereupon Ze takes great delight in pouring acid on the corpse’s face. In another marvellous scene, Ze captures Laura’s brother, ties him up and hangs a large stone above him, leaving a candle to burn through the rope while, in a pure Ze do Caixao moment, taunting the brother to call upon God to save him before the rope burns through and the stone falls.
While the first film was simply a catalogue of tortures, Tonight I’ll Possess Your Corpse aims to do more and build on that. The best new addition to the show is the character of Nadia Freitas’s Marcia. Finally we see someone who is capable of not only meeting Ze’s standards but seems like a female equivalent of him and welcomes all he has. Equally fascinating is when Ze finds he has accidentally killed a woman who was pregnant which, according to his own twisted values, represents the killing of an innocent whereupon he immediately falls into guilt and self-recrimination. This leads to a series of scenes where he is dragged from his bed at night by a darkened figure and taken to the graveyard. There bodies draw him down to Hell whereupon the black-and-white film briefly turns to colour as Ze moves through a series of rooms that are alternately covered in ice and fire and inhabited by a horde of semi-naked bodies before meeting a devil figure (also played by Marins).
By the end of the film, it is as though Jose Mojica Marins has become the proverbial cliche of the deathbed atheist who makes a sudden atonement out of fear that he might be wrong after all. For all that he has spent the bulk of two films espousing contempt for religion, the film positively oozes over with cringing Catholic guilt and fear. Right throughout, the film is rent with visions of Hell, even the Hallelujah Chorus playing as Ze learns his woman is with child. At the end, Ze, still spitting defiance, is driven into a graveyard and forced to beg for repentance before finally being dragged under by a clutter of skeletons.
Ze do Caixao/Coffin Joe has made appearances in several other films including The Strange World of Coffin Joe (1968), a horror anthology directed by Marins in which Coffin Joe does not appear; Awakening of the Beast (1970), a pseudo-documentary on sexual perversion in which Marins appears as himself and as Coffin Joe during drug hallucinations; Black Exorcism (1974), a meta-fiction in which Marins appears as himself and finds family and friends haunted by his Coffin Joe alter ego; and Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind (1978) made up out of leftover scenes from the other films in which Marins plays both Coffin Joe and himself. Jose Mojica Marins’ other genre films include:- an episode of the anthology Trilogy of Terror (1968); the surreal The End of Man (1971) about an enigmatic stranger and its sequel When the Gods Fall Asleep (1972); The Strange Hotel of Naked Pleasures (1976), Hellish Flesh (1977) and The Plague (1980).