Saturday, October 4, 2014

ONE HORROR FILM A DAY: "Awakening Of The Beast"

For some time now I've been curious about the Brazilian horror hero Zé do Caixão, Known in America as "Coffin Joe", he's been terrifying movie-goers a good twenty years before Jason Voorhees sliced up a counselor or Michael Myers loomed behind a screen door. And unlike Freddy Krueger, his long nails are real: actor/creator/director José Mojica Marins grew his fingernails icky-long and kept them that way for public appearances. Bluck.

So on Frightpix they've got a couple of the Coffin Joe flicks, and I started with the most recent one on there: "Awakening Of The Beast". A round table of psychiatrists investigate claims of a connection between drug use and sexual deviancy, with Marins playing himself in the proceedings. A couple of sexploitation vignettes precede the Coffin Joe segments; these touch on themes such as deflowering, whoring, and a group orgy in which a co-ed dies from being penetrated by a wooden staff wielded by a Christ impersonator- edgy stuff for a B/W 1970 film.  The denoument is an acid trip into Coffin Joe's world which is filmed in color and feature weird-ass butt monsters, naked people falling down stairs, mass whipping, and other imaginative imagery.

It's Marins' self-defense in cinematic form; he poses that he's no more crazy than anyone else, and that drug use only induces perversion if you're perverted in the first place. But I wish I watched any of the other movies first; a clip played during At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul showed me what I wanted to be seeing. Pretentious, but still thought-provoking, and it gives you a glimpse into both censorship issues and the difficulties of filmmaking in Brazil- at least circa 1970. When Marins needs to round up four drug users from "all walks of life" for his final experiment, he looks directly into the camera and says "I know where to find some". 3/5 severed heads laughing on a man's outstretch arms.

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