Any fan of horror or exploitation worth his salt has at least heard of Coffin Joe. Loosely translated from his Portuguese nickname, Zé do Caixão, Coffin Joe is how most people know José Mojica Marins, a Brazilian filmmaker, actor and screenwriter. The Coffin Joe character was created in the early 1960s, but Mojica Marins’ career expands much further and he became very well known in the 1980s when he started writing and directing pornochanchadas, the “sexy comedies” that were so popular in Brazil in the 80s and which we looked at a few weeks ago in this space. Although there are plenty of classic Joe Coffin movies, the perfect one to watch in October is Delirios de um Anormal (Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind).


Brazil, 1978, José Mojica Marins

Delirios de um Anornal is a treat because it’s made with bits and pieces of Coffin Joe films that were not used in other titles. In the mayhem that is this movie, the plot is nothing more than an excuse to frame the scenes. The little plot that’s there revolves around Dr. Hamilton, a psychologist who’s fascinated by the supernatural and profoundly in love with his wife Tania. One day, Dr. Hamilton starts having awful nightmares and daydreams in which Coffin Joe wants to take his wife away and have a baby with her. As the dreams become worse and threaten his sanity, his colleagues invite the real José Mojica Marins so he can convince Dr. Hamilton that Joe Coffin is nothing more than a character.

There is no easy way to describe Delirios de um Anormal. However, there are a few films and directors out there that can help you get a better idea of what you’re in for when you watch this. Imagine that Alejandro Jodorowsky wanted to make a horror/exploitation version of Ron Fricke’s Baraka while simultaneously paying homage to the weirder side of latsploitation and performance theater. The result would be something akin to this film.

The dialogue here is minimal, but that’s a good thing. While the plot is what’s supposed to give the story some sense, the truth is that the breaks in the bizarre sequence of images actually interrupt what would otherwise be a very interesting cinematic experience. Also, there are a few portions where the editing seems to have been made with a machete wielded by a guy who lost his glasses. Despite the different colors and ages of the pieces of film used and the awful editing, the film still works simply because these “flaws” just add to the overall sense of oddness. Lastly, the only drawback is the sound. When Dr. Hamilton is on screen, it’s either silence or screaming. The rest of time, it alternates between screaming, moaning or a sustained note and a staccato keyboard that was surely under the hands of someone suffering an epileptic seizure.

Despite its shortcomings, Delirios de um Animal is a must-watch simply because of its uniqueness. While everyone debates about the perfect Halloween movie, Coffin Joe delivers screams, plenty of nudity, buckets of blood, people boiling, bodies trapped inside walls, torture, cannibalism and more madness than a dozen modern horror films put together.