-What is life? It is the beginning of death. What is death? It is the end of life! What is existence? It is the continuity of blood. What is blood? It is the reason to exist!- Zé do Caixão
“At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul” is considered to be the first Brazilian horror film. It would go on to spawn two sequels and be responsible for creating the iconic Brazilian madman, Coffin Joe.
Coffin Joe is a mortician in a small town; he is known and feared for his mean streak and burning hatred of superstition. His only goal is to procreate with the perfect woman, thus creating a perfect child. “At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul” is Brazil’s answer to the universal horror film of the 30s, 40s, and 50s while managing to be a bit edgier than its gothic American predecessors, without losing that iconic feeling the Universal monsters had. The film’s success is due in a huge part to the titular character; his long finger nails, tall hat, quotable dialogue, and menacing laugh are very memorable. It’s no surprise that the Coffin Joe character would gain popularity. José Mojica Marins, who plays the lead, manages to direct as well. The atmospheric setting of a small town is well done; the sets are cheap but effective and the town’s people come across sympathetic. It’s hard not to feel slightly bad when one decides to take a stand against Joe’s cruelty and pays dearly for it. It is apparent that “At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul” is a bit dated and cheesy by some of the scenes, but still manages to pack a punch. The religion boundaries are definitely crossed; the idea of an atheist character having so much power and making a mockery of the Christian faith seems pretty touchy in 1964. The most memorable scene of this shows Joe eating a leg of lamb from the comfort of his rocking chair, laughing hysterically, while just outside his window, a church procession marches past on their way to prayer…. for Lent. Joe’s other escapades include mocking the dead and murdering to get his way. The murder scenes are when Coffin Joe leaves its somewhat Western feel and turns into more of a horror film. Joe’s murders lead him to being cursed by his victims and soon Joe must face the truth about life and death. This set of circumstances opens the door for a wonderful improvisation from our lead as he is attacked by the spirits of people he has wronged.
Synapse has remastered “At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul” from its original elements; it is presented on DVD in widescreen in the best possible quality. The DVD edition includes a short film by the director, an interview about the film, and more. “At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul” is an interesting film and will be intriguing to fans of older horror, foreign horror, and/or oddball cinema.
Coffin Joe makes his film debut in AT MIDNIGHT I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL (À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma), the first installment of the Coffin Joe Trilogy. Coffin Joe (known as Zé do Caixão, and portrayed by director José Mojica Marins) is a mysterious undertaker in a small Brazilian town. He frowns upon religion and is bitter because his wife cannot bear him a child. After violently killing his wife with a venomous spider, the murder, mutilation and blasphemy escalates as Joe stops at nothing to find a new woman to continue his evil bloodline. The town's gypsy has a warning for Coffin Joe... the spirits of those he killed may return to claim his soul! Will Coffin Joe escape the wrath of the dead and finally get the child he's always wanted, or will unholy terror claim him for his hideous crimes?
AT MIDNIGHT I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL is celebrated as the first true horror film ever made in Brazil and is extremely graphic and frightening for its time. Startling, atmospheric and incredibly gruesome, this film is followed by THIS NIGHT I'LL POSSESS YOUR CORPSE and EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (all available from Synapse Films).
- 35mm negative scan supervised by director José Mojica Marins
- The Making of AT MIDNIGHT I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL (10 minutes)
- José Mojica Marins discusses his short film, REINO SANGRENTO (1952) (9 minutes)
- Interview with José Mojica Marins (6 minutes)
- New scene filmed in 2002
- Introduction to the film by Coffin Joe
- Original theatrical trailer and rare promotional trailer