AWAKENING OF THE BEAST (1970) Reviews and overview

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Awakening of the Beast (original titles: O Ritual dos Sádicos, and O Despertar da Besta) is a 1970 Brazilian horror feature film by José Mojica Marins. Marins is also known by his alter ego Coffin Joe (Zé do Caixão). He appears as himself and as the Coffin Joe character in the fictional film which is in the form of a pseudo-documentary.


In the film’s first portion, filmed in black and white, Doctor Sergio, a psychiatrist, appears on a television program on a panel with three other contemporary psychiatrists after he claims to have conducted experiments on four volunteer drug addicts with LSD in order to investigate his claim that libido deviancy is caused by use of illegal drugs.

As evidence, he presents a series of documented accounts of drug use leading to lewd acts. Marins appears (as himself) on the panel with the psychiatrists as some type of expert on the subject of depravity. During the program, Doctor Sergio recounts the experiment to his colleagues on the panel, who argue with his claims.

Doctor Sergio gathers the four volunteers, and after receiving an injection, the volunteers (four drug users seen in the previous segments) are instructed to stare at a movie poster of Marins’ The Strange World of Coffin Joe. The film changes to colour and each patient’s experience is vividly portrayed in a series of surreal scenes.


“The film feels like it was birthed violently out of the womb of William Burroughs. It features junkies, sexual deviants, and violence … It was immediately banned in Brazil, as officials felt its message was too heavily political.”

” …pretty much a drug trip on screen (think 2001 x 10), well-executed, acutely edited in many respects and swamped with vibrantly insane sound design. People are beaten, they teleport from place to place, colours flash vividly, there are screams and wails, faces made from bums, uncanny creatures crawling along, etc. Going on for in excess of twenty minutes there is not much like it elsewhere in cinema – this is pretty much fine art film-making on a feature-length level.” The Grim Cellar


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