Embodiment of Evil DVD

Saturday, 18 July 2009 16:10

“Embodiment of Evil” is the final part of the “Coffin Joe” trilogy. Fans had to wait an astonishing 41 years after part two, and 44 years had elapsed since the trilogy began! Jose Mojica Marins wrote, directed and took the central role in this final, bloody segment of his life’s passion. The movie centres around the wacky character of Josefel Zanatas (aka Coffin Joe), an undertaker with an all-consuming obsession to sire the perfect son.

Having been locked up for four decades for murdering nearly 30 women, Joe is released into a seedy world, now sporting a bushy beard and talon-like fingernails. Once reunited with his former servant, the crumbling and Igor-like Bruno (Rui Resende), in addition to a gothic quartet of unquestioning young disciples, Joe sets about the search for the perfect woman to bear his male heir. Unfortunately for the women that they kidnap or deviously lure into Joe’s lair, he has very specific and exacting standards, and thus the corpses start to pile up as he deals with the rejects in a very finite manner! As the slaughter continues, the military police and a zealous priest close in on our crazy gang.

Embodiment of Evil DVDI would definitely class “Embodiment” as an art-house horror film. It is full of heavily-drawn characters that either live in the real world but are oblivious to it, or live in fantasy worlds of their own making, dark and decrepit pits of despair and seedy goings-on. Coffin Joe is central to this setting, but at the same time wildly anachronistic. A lunatic in the original two films, forty years in a dank cell have had little effect on Joe’s character or appearance, other than to crystallize his obsession.

His outfit, a black cloak, top hat and large silver medallion - never mind his absurd finger nails - are straight out of a Hammer horror film, and his persona is stilted, hammy and operatic. Early on in the film when the audience is unaware of the terrible acts he has performed in the past, and soon will again, you almost feel sorry for this furry old man with blood-shot eyes.

At this point Joe’s nightmares begin, and as his mind unravels, his thirst for blood grows to gag-inducing levels. Joe experiences lucid visions of victims from the old days, artfully shot in black and white whilst their surroundings are drenched in over-ripe colours and dark shadows. Like Macbeth, these ghosts from the past torment him, but guilt has no place in Joe’s heart or demonically-focused mind. Besides these haunting emanations, the film features scene after scene of death and depravity. The director does not try to scare his audience, just make their collective jaws drop and their stomachs churn at the site of woman after woman being stripped naked and then hung, drawn and quartered (if they are lucky!).

“Embodiment” is certainly not a tasteful film, but it is a visually arresting one, and the atmosphere is quite unlike any North American or British horror film you are likely to have come across. It more closely resembles the heavily stylised movies from the likes of European directors such as Dario Argento. Coffin Joe is also a refreshingly weird and feeble anti-hero, in this age of countless films featuring deformed red necks or cocky suburban psychopaths.

One negative point would be that at times the plot becomes confusing, especially to those without previous knowledge of the trilogy. Whilst the director frequently intersects the new footage with flashbacks to the previous entries, they do little to fill in the blanks. Perhaps this slight sense of bewilderment and disorientation is intentional, though, as it certainly dovetails with Joe’s warped visions. Despite this problem, I do recommend the movie for the more adventurous horror fan seeking something a bit different.

The DVD and Blu-Ray editions feature a 30-minute “Making Of” and a trailer. The former is a little unstructured, but it does feature some interesting interviews with the cast and crew, as well as a decent overview of the flexible nature of Mojica Marin’s directorial style. As usual in these films, special mention goes to the patient and miracle-working spider, cockroach and snake wranglers, and the prosthetic and special effects people who make everything look so convincingly awful!

The discs are released on 27 July 2009, priced £17.99 on DVD and £19.99 on Blu-Ray, certificate 18. A five-disc “Coffin Joe DVD Box Set” featuring the first two parts of the trilogy amongst other films is also released on this date, at £39.99.  As usual, you can get all these for less at www.culttvstore.com


"Embodiment of Evil" (José Mojica Marins, 2008)


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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