For the best of the Horror/Cult/Exploitation film experience
Embodiment of Evil (2008) - (Blu-ray)
If there’s any filmmaker out there that’s dedicated to his art more than pretty much everyone it has to be José Mojica Marins. He’s quite possibly the most important Brazilian genre filmmaker of all time and in my opinion he’s a true maverick of cinema. Plain and simple the man broke serious ground in 1964s “At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul” and did it again in 1967 with the truly creepy “Esta Noite Encarnarei no Teu Cadáver” aka “This Night I Will Posses Your Corpse”. These movies were like nothing else that was being made at the time not afraid to attack religion (especially in a place where religion is so highly regarded), society, and just about anything else that would be held precious by anyone. Coffin Joe or as he’s called in his films Zé do Caixão, is one of the most original characters in the history of horror cinema. Although some may argue that the Coffin Joe films fall into the area of exploitation I think it’s safe to say that it’s roots are grounded in the world of horror, although exploitation is surely a part of the equation. Now after over 30 years since Marins has played his character of Zé do Caixão he returns with “Embodiement of Evil” which has been one of the longest awaited films for anyone but especially José Mojica Marins.
At the start of “Embodiment of Evil” we have Zé do Caixão being released from prison after being convicted of the crimes he committed in the earlier films. Almost immediately after being released from jail Coffin Joe restarts his journey to find the perfect woman to bear his child. During his journey to find said woman Joe starts to run into women of his past that he had a hand in their deaths. While all of this is happening you also have a military Colonel and two vigilante brothers chase Joe and want to put him in his final resting place for his crimes. It’s been widely debated that Joe is immortal and these men vow to find out for themselves to see if the legend is true or is just a legend.
First off one of the things that I absolutely LOVED about this movie is the fact that it was so well tied together with the movies in the series that came before it. You can tell that was at least some sort of dedication to make sure that this movie walked and talked the way that the other Coffin Joe films do. There wasn’t to be any watering down of anything for the more PC days that we live in and I loved that about this one. Bottom line is there are some seriously sadistic things in this one that are just a whole boat load of fun (especially if you’re a fan of Coffin Joe).
As far as the plot and story of the movie go, it’s nothing that’s going to blow you away. Sure, it’s a lot of fun and basically lives up to what you expect but I have a feeling that this is going to be the first film pertaining to Coffin Joe that a lot of people are going to see and that just shouldn’t be the case. The story in the film isn’t as coherent as many would want and although it uses images and atmosphere more than it does a coherent storyline it still is powerful. Of course if you aren’t familiar with the source material then you’re more than likely to get lost in all of this.
One of the strangest things for me watching the movie was during the very beginning of me popping it in. Apparently I hadn’t realized that the company that original released the movie (before it was picked up for US release by Synapse Films) would be 20th Century Fox. First off I was just surprised since I heard nothing of this until watching the movie, but then to think that they would even touch a movie like this boggles my mind. This movie like all of the Coffin Joe flicks that I’ve ever seen have such underground values that simply won’t appeal to the mainstream. The movie is violent, features scenes of rape, anti-religion attitude, blasphemy, etc and one would think that because of this a company like Fox would have had nothing at all to do with it. Trust me, I’d be willing to bet that this is the reason why it was secured for release by Synapse Films and because of their efforts on each release they do, we get such an awesome release.
Although the Synapse Films Blu-ray of “Embodiement of Evil” is a good one I think at first glance people might be disappointed in the extras. Personally though after checking out the disc I was completely satisfied with everything included. There’s a solid making of featurette on there about the making of the movie and a really cool public appearance that José Mojica Marins did from the Fantasia Film Festival premiere of the movie too. They also managed to slap the theatrical trailer on there and it looks gorgeous in HD.
Overall I have to say that this is a must see for all fans of Coffin Joe no doubt about it. It was exactly what I was expecting coming in and it lived up to everything I wanted to see and more. But if you are new to the world of Zé do Caixão then this just isn’t going to be right for you. You should really go back to the films that Marins did in the 60s first and start there, then you’ll always have this one to check out down the road.
Rating - ***
Blu-ray Rating - **½