Plot: What’s it about?
Coffin Joe (also known as Ze do Caixao and played by director Jose Mojica Marins) is an undertaker with a dark past and perhaps even a darker future. He dresses in all black, wears a long cloak, and of course, always has his trademark top hat upon his head. This mass of black attire is worn by an unusual man, one who seeks to find the perfect woman to bear his child. This means he must venture into a village filled with religious people, but Coffin Joe has a plan when it comes to their protests and what not. As he passes through the town, he pretty much terrorizes the villagers and even attacks their religious beliefs. Coffin Joe has no beliefs of any kind and that clashes with the townsfolk, which means bad things are bound to happen, sooner or later. He continues his search for just the right woman, so his son will be born perfect, but his actions seem to lessen his chances. Although he has no fear and does whatever he pleases, Coffin Joe has a mission and will he fulfill it or will his wishes for a perfect son be denied?
This was not only the debut of Coffin Joe, but also the first real horror film made in Brazil, as unusual as that sounds. Good old Coffin Joe has become a sort of national “bogeyman” according the case’s notes and after seeing the movie, it isn’t hard to understand why that is. The premise is strange and basic, but the film works thanks to intense visuals and excellent direction. The atmosphere created is effective at all times and since this is a horror movie, that means lots of shadows and darker visual patterns. But the surreal undercurrents sometimes rise and take the flow to another level, which is when At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul is really memorable. If you’ve heard about how strange and eerie the Coffin Joe flicks are, then rest assured, you have no idea of just how surreal and beautiful these movies really are, until you’ve seen them yourself. The character of Coffin Joe is a very creepy one and I can see why so many feared him, that’s for sure. If you’re a fan of horror movies, offbeat cinema, or dark, surreal visuals, then I think you need to check out this flick, as well as the two sequels that followed. All three have been released by Fantoma (via Image Entertainment) and in good treatments, so don’t miss out on them.
Video: How does it look?
At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul is presented in a 1.66:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. This was a low budget film made in 1968, so I wasn’t expecting much, but this turned out much better than I thought. The print shows some nicks and debris often, but usually to a lesser extent and as such, no real distraction is present. The black & white image looks good, but a little soft and by turn, not very detailed. But if you take into consideration the age and condition of the materials, this transfer is adequate and should please fans.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is presented in mono form, with the original Portuguese language track used, which is how it should be. The age of the materials is sometimes obvious, but on the whole, the audio is more than stable and covers the basics. Some pops can be heard, as well as some hiss, but as I said, I wasn’t distracted much by these flaws. The dialogue seems in order and I never had to fiddle with the volume, so I won’t complain much. This release also included optional English subtitles, just in case you’ll need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a ten minute interview with Jose Mojica Marins, as well as theatrical trailers for all three Coffin Joe movies. A very cool reproduction of a Coffin Joe comic book is also included, which is found inside the disc’s case.