Estranha Hospedaria dos Prazeres is a 1976 Brazilian feature film co-directed by Marcelo Motta and José Mojica Marins. Marins is also known by his alter ego Zé do Caixão (in English, Coffin Joe).
The film features Coffin Joe as the main character, although it is not part of the “Coffin Joe trilogy” (At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul, This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse, and Embodiment of Evil). In the US, it was released on DVD as Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures.
The film was written by Marins and the bulk of the film directed by Marcelo Motta as a favour to the busy Marins, although Marins maintained control over certain scenes. The film features simple yet gruesome visual and audio effects such as stock sound clips, surreal noises, screams and vocal utterances.
A surreal sequence shows dancing women, monkey-like figures fearing lightning, and native Brazilian drummers. An old man begins chanting over a closed coffin. The coffin opens and a man rises. He appears with a top hat, cape, and long fingernails.
In an isolated inn called “Hospedaria dos Prazeres“, the mysterious proprietor advertises for employees to serve his guests while they stay the night of a tempestuous storm. As the storm gathers and night falls, various people begin to show up. The proprietor (Marins) allows some to stay while informing others that there are no vacancies, to their obvious displeasure because of the severity of the storm.
A wealthy patron who is turned away vows to get the police. The guest book is already filled with the names of the permitted guests before they arrive; they include a group of drunken and promiscuous bohemian motorcyclists, an adulterous couple, a suicidal man, an amorous couple, a group of thieves who just finished a robbery, and some gambling businessmen preparing a deal to bankrupt a competitor. The number of guests is twelve…
“By any conventional standards it’s truly awful, whether you’re looking at the acting, the direction, the editing, the writing, the effects, the soundtrack. Yet it’s somehow hypnotic, never boring even though it really should be, and definitely something that you know you’ve seen.” Hal C.F. Astell, Apocalypse Later
“As with the other Coffin Joe films, the movie is very surreal and features lots of screams and other weird sound effects that are designed to really put the viewer at unease. Seeing Coffin Joe standing at the counter of a hostel, stroking a stone skull, is not something one easily forgets. It is amazing to me how well these movies stand up, given their age…” Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies
“Live to die or die to live? Is there an answer? No! Only doubts! Only deductions… Only the conviction of emptiness… of loneliness… the desperate search for the whole and the nothing in the vastness of the dark. The unveil of this enigma would be the end of the mystery. The end of the secret of eternity. The apogee of happiness. The mission is accomplished! Men would be facing his biggest conquest… the awakening of his own origin.”
Image credits: Cinema Para Doidos