★★★★ = Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
★1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
★ = Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
...aka: Tonight I Will Eat Your Corpse
José Mojica Marins
Unfortunately, Zé discovers that Marcia has fallen for him and since he views love as a weakness he decides to dismiss her; letting her live because he knows she won't go to the cops and he can use her to help implicate another guy - bald muscleman Truncador (William Morgan) - in the killings. A colonel's (Roque Rodrigues) lovely daughter, Laura (Nadia Freitas), arrives in town just in time to catch Zé's eye. And to his delight, she's a bit of a sadist herself. Her family naturally disapprove of the union, but that's OK. Zé and his hunchback make their point by killing the brother by dropping a huge rock on his head. Laura eventually finds herself with child, but things start to unravel for our despicable mortician when he realizes that one of his original victims - Jandira (Tania Mendonça) - was pregnant at the time of her death. Despite his hatred for most adults, Zé never wants harm to come to a child, because they're fine until adults manage to ruin them later on.
Guilt over Jandira's death leads to a nightmarish vision of hell, and the film suddenly changes from black-and-white to full color for about five minutes. Hell, as seen here, is a bright, gaudy mix of fire and ice. Red-painted men run around sticking people with pitchforks, whipping them and driving nails into their foreheads. Some people hang on upside down crosses with snakes wrapped around them. Steam and ice pour from holes. Walls bleed. Blood drips from the ceiling. Heads and body parts jut out from everywhere. Zé also gets to visit briefly with Satan (who's also played by Marins). When he awakens, everything's back to b/w for the finish, which wraps up with Ze being chased by a torch-carrying mob of villagers through a swamp and finally being forced into accepting the fact that there is a God.
Though this wears out its welcome a bit toward the end and goes on about ten minutes too long, there's loads of interesting and incredibly bizarre stuff going on here to easily hold one's interest. It's better made than the previous entry (the budget seems a bit higher), the dialogue is well-written, interesting and sometimes blackly humorous and Marins (whose voice apparently is dubbed in all of these films) has great presence - and some amazing fingernails - in the lead.
Clips from the film were later recycled in the partial compilation HALUCINATIONS OF A DERANGED MIND (1978) and COFFIN JOE'S VISIONS OF TERROR (1994). Marins would even return as Coffin Joe in a direct sequel 40 years later (!) It - titled either DEVIL'S REINCARNATION or EMBODIMENT OF EVIL - apparently uses footage from both an abandoned 1981 attempt to revive the character along with new footage shot in 2006.
It was based on a novel by William Goldman (who adapted his own work here), has a Jerry Goldsmith score, an effectively gloomy look thanks to cinematographer Victor J. Kemper and is well-budgeted and professionally made. There are some effective creepy moments, the doll design - fashioned to look somewhat like the leading actor - is excellent and most of the cast (particularly Hopkins and Meredith) acquit themselves well. Regardless, the level of subdued familiarity - and the obviousness of the entire premise - will be a turn off to certain viewers.