Sunday, March 20, 2011

Awakening Of The Beast (1970)

José Mojica Marins also known as Coffin Joe has always been a master in the bizarre. With the popularity of At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul and his strange vision of hell confined within the film. His very name alone struck fear amongst the people of Brazil. I once read that parents would scare their children into being good by telling them that if they are bad Coffin Joe would come for them.

It seems that maybe Coffin Joe was almost trying to destroy the myth behind his name with this film but yet uphold his controversial status and continue down his path in cinema of the strange. Awakening Of The Beast starts off like a Sexploitation flick with lots of skin and all sorts of perverse acts all told in a conference concerning the drug problem in Brazil and a doctor who is writing a book on addicts. We see a girl shoot up and strip for a bunch of sleazy men while an awesome record spins. The men then pass the naked girl a pot so she can release some body fluids for their sexual amusement. Then we get a bunch of Beatniks who grope a school girl until a bongo playing hippie type, dressed as Jesus sticks a giant walking stick up inside of the girls most sacred place. We get some interracial action and a cocaine abusing woman who has a very strange relationship with her horse. Then we have our basic Roughie type stuff with women being smacked around by sweaty men and thers also a quite strange scene involving some foreplay and pasta. Eck!

Eventually four of these sexual deviates are brought together by the doctor and the four sex/drug addicts agree to drop some acid and have their behavior recorded. Little did they know they would be taking a acid trip to hell. The doctor uses Coffin Joe and the power of suggestion to get inside these expanded trippy-minds and the four losers descend into the bizarre world of fire and torture.
Coffin Joe appears and disappears in bright colorful lights. He shoots flames from his fingertips and and basically just raises hell. He brings the pleasures and the tortures of hell to the screen in a odd hallucinogenic collage of color and strange imagery. Women are striped naked and whipped. Men are layed down upon stairs becoming human stepping stones for Coffin Joe to walk upon. We also get one of the strangest scenes in cinema history. We see these strange red, luminating faces... With hands moving about and one of them is smoking a cigarette. At first these faces seem to be masks but once the eyes focus in on what is really on display we realize that it is a bunch of human asses with faces painted on them. Its one of those things that has to be seen to be believed.

Once the addicts come down from their trip we learn that they were given sugar pills and the power of suggestion along with a little Coffin Joe was all they needed to dream up their very own hell. Next director José Mojica Marins appears and yells "Cut" and the film abrubtly ends. I find it funny that a man who had as much controversy behind is name, like Coffin Joe would try to destroy the myth in a Jodorowski, Holy Mountain way. After all its only a movie...

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