THE STRANGE WORLD OF COFFIN JOE
(O Estranho Mundo de Ze do Caixao)
Nestled in between At Midnight Ill Take Your Soul and Tonight Ill Possess Your Corpse, Marins directed one segment of the horror anthology Trilogy of Terror (1968). Taking apparent inspiration from this, Marins next made a full anthology of his own with The Strange World of Coffin Joe. Despite the title, The Strange World of Coffin Joe is not one of Marinss trademark Coffin Joe films indeed, there is no Ze in the film, even as narrator (although there are a couple of minutes with an aging Marins that have been edited in to the modern dvd versions but these were not there in the original cinematic release). Rather what we have is an anthology of three unrelated tales that have been sold under the Coffin Joe banner.
The first two episodes, The Dollmaker and Perversion, are negligible. The Dollmaker starts in one direction and ends up with a mildly nasty twist in the tale. Perversion is a dialogueless piece about a poor balloon sellers obsession with a beautiful woman and how he sneaks into the church to molest her corpse and put a pair of shoes on her as she lies in the coffin. This has a mildly perverse spin necrophilia and foot fetishism combined but is not nearly as twisted as it sounds. A theme of sexual desire and perversion is a common thread that runs throughout the film. The first episode, for instance, takes a great delight in showing the four men raping the four daughters before the tables are turned on them.
The main problem with these first two stories is that they lack the demoniac presence of Jose Mojica Marins. The Coffin Joe films are driven by his piercing malevolence, his rantings about the futility of morality and religion while devising a series of cruel fates for his victims. Without the sheer virulence of Coffin Joe in them, either story collapses into crudely directed and not terribly interesting pieces where the only thing that seems to drive them is a lingering on sexual perversions and lusts.
This however is remedied by the third episode Ideology, which features Marins and back on form. He is not playing Ze do Caixao/Coffin Joe but someone called Professor Oaxiac Odez, an academic of undefined discipline who is Coffin Joe in all but name he has Zes trademark beard and long fingernails and still raves about morality and nihilism while celebrating cruelty and sadism. The episode is extraordinary for when finally arrive at the professors home where we see a series of tableaux with Marins prisoners engaging in orgies, being tortured on racks, a matronly figure wandering through wielding a whip, unfaked scenes of needles being poked through skin, cannibalism, acid thrown in a beautiful womans face, and the couple locked up in cages and starved while Marins stands around reciting Bible verses. This was all quite strong stuff for 1968 when Western cinema was only just getting used to seeing nudity on the screen.
Ze do Caixao/Coffin Joe has made appearances in several other films including Awakening of the Beast (1970), a pseudo-documentary on sexual perversion in which Marins appears as himself and as Coffin Joe during drug hallucinations; Black Exorcism (1974), a meta-fiction in which Marins appears as himself and finds family and friends haunted by his Coffin Joe alter ego; and Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind (1978) made up out of leftover scenes from the other films in which Marins plays both Coffin Joe and himself. Jose Mojica Marins other genre films include:- an episode of the anthology Trilogy of Terror (1968); the surreal The End of Man (1971) about an enigmatic stranger and its sequel When the Gods Fall Asleep (1972); The Strange Hotel of Naked Pleasures (1976), Hellish Flesh (1977) and The Plague (1980).
Full film available online here:-