Thursday, September 16, 2021

INFF ’21: The Cemetery of Lost Souls

Combining a knock-off Necronomicon-style book of evil with carny folk always means trouble. In this film, some of the nicest people happen to be part of a cannibal tribe. Sorry, that should have been “alternative cuisine connoisseurs.” (The on-set sensitivity coach wasn’t particularly diligent on this Brazilian horror movie.) Regardless, an ancient band of demonic zombies starts feeling their farofa in Rodrigo Aragão’s The Cemetery of Lost Souls, which screens (online) during the 2021 Inffinito Brazilian Film Festival.

It all starts during the early era of Portuguese colonialism, when a priest succumbs to the temptations offered by an infernal book of demonology, adopting the name of the infamous sorcerer Cipriano as his own. During a freak storm, he uses his powers to save a small platoon of conquistadors from certain death, at the mere cost of their souls. They wreak havoc on the indigenous tribes in a weirdly Transylvanian-looking district of Brazil, until a freak series of events binds them to the anachronistic Dracula’s castle.

For years, Jorge, a shy modern-day carnival laborer has seen in his dreams Ayra, an indigenous woman held in thrall by Cipriano. One fateful day, the carnival pitches their tent outside the imposing castle. Of course, Cirpriano and his horde are still lurking inside and they intend to feast on Jorge’s company.

throws all kinds of horror elements into the blender, but there is clearly a heavy Evil Dead influence. The modest budget is equally evident. For instance, the castle practically looks like it was painted on a bed sheet. However, Aragão is not afraid to go way over-the-top gory, mostly to gleefully comedic effect.

As Cipriano, Renato Chocair looks a bit like Maximilian Schell on crack bender, but he definitely chews the scenery the way a demonic zombie hungering for flesh should. Diego Garcias and Allana Lopes are sporting enough as Jorge and Ayra, professionally enduring all kinds blood-splattering and skin-blistering effects.

This film is nutty as heck. It is also conspicuously messy. Characters often disappear for considerable stretches without any narrative justification. Nevertheless, the bloody lunacy is fun to behold. Recommended as a bit of grungy midnight madness,
The Cemetery of Lost Souls screens online until this evening (9/16 at 7:00 PM EST), as part of this year’s Inffinito Brazilian Film Festival.