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Waiting For A Sequel

For no good reason, I was checking out this Wikipedia page of the longest gaps between film sequels.  The current record-holder, if you count it, is Bambi II.

I don't know if I do - Disney releases direct-to-video sequels to pretty much all of their animated movies, and they way they turn them out is not really in the spirit of making a true "sequel."  That is, the same creative minds and actors re-uniting to expand on a story they started earlier.  Not having seen Bambi II (Or Bambi, for that matter), I cannot comment on how true to the original it might be, so I'll ignore that for a minute.

What I really wanted to mention was another movie on this list that actually does look like a true sequel:  Embodiment of Evil, a Brazilian horror movie that is not only a sequel, but is actually Part 3 of a trilogy.  Part 2, This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse, was made in 1967.  Embodiment of Evil was made in 2008.

In doing some quick reading about the director, Jose Mojica Marins, it looks like the central villain of these movies is Coffin Joe, a character that regularly appeared in Marins's work since he was first created in the '60s.  I guess this is kind of like the Brazilian equivalent of, say, Jason Voorhees - even if Jason wasn't in a movie that year, he would've remained fresh in the public consciousness due to parodies or other references.

Still, despite being a movie featuring a somewhat stock character, I can't help but be fascinated by this.  The Friday the 13th movies were written and directed by different people and featured different actors.  Most long-running franchises are the same way, horror or otherwise.  But this is a director who created a character, said, "I'll leave this guy on the back-burner for awhile," and waited a full forty years before he said, "Yup, now the time is right."

It boggles the mind.  I don't want to say that it is creative bankruptcy.  For one thing, I haven't seen the movies, and for another, it isn't inherently a bad idea.  Just confusing.  Was it motivated purely by money?  Was there a strong public demand for another Coffin Joe movie?  I don't live in Brazil nor do I know any Brazilians, so I can't really get a sense of this.  Any Brazilians who happen to stumble on my website - please comment and let me know.  I'm honestly fascinated by this. I think I need to watch this trilogy now.  Especially since my brief research shows that they're pretty influential and epochal movies.

The idea of making a sequel so long after the last installment doesn't sit well with me.  It's so easy to picture it as a soulless cash-in.  Long-awaited sequels don't exactly have a stellar track record, either.  Off the top of my head, the Star Wars prequels, The Godfather III, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull all come to mind.  (Those last two weren't awful, they were just not great.  But I'll write about that some other time.)

When you hear that a sequel or a remake is announced, it really feels like there was a board of faceless suits at Movie Corp., rabbling on to one another about profits and quarters and points, and then one of them stood up and banged his shoe on the boardroom table and said, "Dammit, where's our next Casablanca?!" And then they call up some guns-for-hire to shoot the thing in four months and get it out on DVD by Christmas.  It's a very depressing and pessimistic take on it.

But there's another way it might have gone down.  And I prefer to picture it this way:

Marins sat in his study one night in 2007, pouring himself a glass of fine rum on the rocks.  He sipped and sat back in the cushy chair behind his desk.  Posters of all of his past movies adorned his walls; reminders of a life well spent.  He relaxed and thought about his achievements, pride surging through his body and putting him at ease.


Except that there was a feeling of loneliness in his gut.  Something gnawed at him from within.  He glanced aside at the poster for This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse.  Memories of making that film flooded the theater in his brain.  He remembered asking his friends if they wanted to be a part of it.  He remembered how excited they all were: young actors and artists ready to take on the world.  He remembered the sweat and blood that was shed to get the right take, the grueling hours, the panicked squeals of anger as they did take after take, squeezing the value out of every last dime-store prop that they could just barely afford, the groaning of the camera as it struggled to continue functioning until the very end.  He loved it all.

Ah, but that life was over.  There would never be another Coffin Joe movie - he was too old.  His friends all had their own lives.  He had a good run, but now it was time to sit back and retire, the way that old people do.

He sipped his rum.  It suddenly tasted bitter.

Why should he retire?  Why does anyone have to retire?  Who says that Coffin Joe is finished?

To hell with it, he thought.  I'm not dead yet.

He took out a pen and paper and started to jot down some notes.  How could Coffin Joe make a comeback?  And as he brainstormed, he felt a familiar rush through his veins: the energy of a storyteller.  He would remain young for as long as he could create.  And as he made his way through that fifth of rum, he filled an entire notepad with the promises of a younger tomorrow: Coffin Joe lives!

I write this as sincerely as I can possibly be: this is how I hope I will be when I am 72.  For that reason alone, I think I owe it to Marins to track down the Coffin Joe trilogy and make my way through it.