Working primarily in horror, José Mojica Marins broke away from earnestly macabre films like At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul (1964) - while still retaining his flair for haunted house theatrics - to make this tongue-in-cheek portrait of the hippie counter-culture of the 1960s.
Originally titled Sadists’ Ritual and marketed as a ghastly haunted house film, Awakening of the Beast was directed by Brazil’s horror maestro José Mojica Marins and promised a scream-filled romp much like the filmmaker’s earlier This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse (1967); however, this film ended up going far beyond its genre parameters and has become one of the key political films of Brazil’s era of military repression.
A tongue-in-cheek commentary on 1960s counterculture, the plot begins in pseudo-documentary style with a series of experts on TV - played by notable Boca do Lixo figures like Carlos Reichenbach and Jairo Ferreira - debating the possible link between the use of psychedelic drugs and violent and sexually deviant behavior.
An experiment involving four volunteers, LSD and Marins’ on-screen alter ego Coffin Joe ensues, playfully debunking the drug-related hysteria that dominated the mainstream discourse of the time. Censors did not take the film lightly; it was banned for 14 years.