“You have a beautiful body.”
That’s the first line of dialogue in The Reincarnation Of Sex.
Flattery will get this movie everywhere.
Brazilian horror movies are defined by outrageous shocks and provocative imagery. That’s all thanks to José Mojica Marins, better known as Coffin Joe. For the past four decades, Marins has stretched the limits of good taste with his confrontational, multi-layered, art-scum manifestos. In At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul, Coffin Joe’s mistress is unable to bear his child. Out of spite, he tapes her mouth shut, places a poisonous spider on her breast, and rapes her best friend. In Strange Hostel Of Naked Pleasures, Coffin Joe comes face-to-face with the devil himself — Coffin Joe. Coffin Joe fights Coffin Joe in a meta-enhanced battle for the throne of hell that ends with castration. Marins’s movies were influential in Brazil, both creatively and financially. So it made sense that other Brazilian filmmakers would follow his lead, from experimental non-maverick Ivan Cardoso (Nosferatu On Brasil) to porn-horror wildman Fauzi Mansur (Ritual Of Death).
The Reincarnation Of Sex is about people who have sex, then kill each other, because they are possessed by a severed head that lives in a potted plant. This movie was also made in Brazil.
Patricia lives with her mother and father in a rented country house. She’s having an affair with Arthur, the groundskeeper. This arrangement makes everyone happy except for Patricia’s father, who can hear the couple having sex in the middle of the night. He says, “Arthur is my employee! He has crossed the line! When will her monthly bleeding come?!” No longer able to cope, Dad takes matters into his own hands and hacks Arthur to pieces with an axe. Then Arthur’s ghost calls Patricia from beyond the grave. With the help of her mother, Patricia digs up Arthur’s body, removes his head with a knife, and buries the head in the dirt of a potted plant. Cut to ten years later.
Newlyweds Celia and Antonio rent the house from Patricia’s father. Within minutes, Arthur’s voice inexplicably calls Celia’s name. Celia says, “Fuck me, fuck me now! Let’s fuck a lot!” and becomes an insatiable sex addict. She decapitates Antonio when he has an orgasm, then climaxes while writhing in a pool of blood. It should be noted that the plant containing Arthur’s head — the same one from ten years earlier — is next to the couple’s bed while all of this happens. When Arthur speaks, the plant shakes. Just like The Magic Christmas Tree.
Celia disappears, so Ligia rents the house. Ligia is a single lady who can’t decide between the true love of her lesbian girlfriend or random hook-ups with strangers. Naturally, Arthur’s voice also turns Ligia into a sex-crazed killer. Ligia murders her lady lover via vibrator-to-the-mouth, then entices a trucker to her bedroom. Patricia’s ghost shows up while Ligia murders the trucker. This is the first indiction that we get of Patricia’s passing. It would be great to tie all of this together, but that doesn’t happen in the movie. However, there is a haunted bookcase.
If I had twenty-five fists, all of them would be pumping simultaneously until the end of time. The Reincarnation Of Sex is a thoroughly satisfying Brazilian smut-fest. It’s less subversive than Coffin Joe’s work and more lucid than Fauzi Mansur’s movies. It’s the balanced, more conscientious youngest sibling in a family that raised nothing but bank robbers and heroin addicts. Tonally, Reincarnation feels like a slasher that eroto-horror warlock José Ramón Larraz (Symptoms) would have made after binge watching Dark Shadows for three days in David Cronenberg’s living room. There’s an intense focus on sex as a harbinger of fear, violence, and confusion. But that focus is presented within the confines of artless, no-budget trash. We get the pleasure of witnessing over-the-top thrills without having to think about them after the fact. This makes for a nice complement to the movie’s technical aspects, which also feel thoughtless. Random cutaway shots of nature, absent plot points, and slow zooms into pubic zones do nothing for logic, but everything for establishing a dreamy, nonsensical mood. And unlike most Brazilian exploitation, Reincarnation isn’t boring. Because sex, violence, and haunted plants are never boring.
The soundtrack of The Reincarnation Of Sex was partly written and performed by Vangelis. He also recorded the soundtracks for Chariots Of Fire and Blade Runner, but we won’t hold that against him.