Movie Review : At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1964)
* This review was written by Leza Cantoral of CLASH Media. Leza is the author of Cartoons in the Suicide Forest and the Editor in Chief of CLASH Books. She is the host of the Get Lit With Leza podcast where she talks to cool ass writers. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I haven't seen this movie, but it looks cool as fuck. CLASH Media and I are going to collaborate and expand each other's culture a little bit. Keep an eye out. It's not the last CLASH Media post you see on this site. - B. *
At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul is not your average feel-good Halloween time movie. It’s got a sadistic undertaker, tarantula murder, and a cryptic witch that cackles at the most uncomfortable moments while looking you directly in the eye & delivering morbid prophesies. Your humble protagonist, aka Ze Do Caixao aka Coffin Joe, played with great flourish by the Brazilian director himself, José Mojica Marins, just wants a few things out of life: a worthy woman to bear his heir, to eat meat on Easter Sunday without being preached at by his woman, and for God to finally punish him for his numerous sins. Spoiler: he gets one of these things.
This movie is dark, fucked up, and wickedly hilarious. If you have a twisted sense of humor like I do, it is guaranteed to tickle that morbid funnybone all the way to hell, or till you choke on your beer till you snort foam up your nose. The story follows an undertaker in a small town. Apparently in Brazil, this means you are pretty much the mayor. He routinely threatens to “make a coffin” for anyone who crosses him. He assaults and murders both men and women. He does not discriminate. He is the male ego gone mad.
At first it seems like Coffin Joe is just your run of the mill misogynistic godless sadist, but as the story unfolds you see the torment that bubbles behind that wicked grin, as he challenges God to strike him down, while taunting him with rape, murder, and sacrilege. He is a man calling out for some kind of karmic justice in what he sees to be an amoral universe where might makes right. Other men cower as he attacks and abuses them. He suffers no consequences for his bad behavior, because of his social pull and his terrifying personality.
The true darkness here is not the destructive toxicity of a powerful man, it is the torment within the heart of this man who is haunted by his conscience and who is driven by his inner demons towards grander and more brutal displays of antisocial and abusive behavior.
Incredibly, this is only part 1 of a trilogy, which must be watched to be believed.
I do not love this film because it is shocking. I love it because it laughs at itself, it is incredibly shot, and it taps into the antisocial bastard in us all. What else is horror for but to explore all those unsavory parts of one’s personality within the safety of someone else’s nightmare fantasies?
So, grab some popcorn or some blow & jack & coke, kick back, and let the good times roll, with this Brazilian gem of cult cinema.