Embodiment Of Evil
Director: Jose Mojica Marins
Cast: Jose Mojica Marins, Jece Valadad, Milhem Cortaz
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Confession time, I never saw the previous Coffin Joe movies. I know, I know, I can all but hear the tongue clucking and see the finger wagging of the horror snobs already. You know, the same people who were first to jump on the Asian horror bandwagon in the late ’90s and loudly proclaim to everyone that any Japanese flick about a girl ghost with stringy hair in her face was infinitely better than anything done over here when the truth of the matter was that while there were some great movies to be seen from the East, many more were just as crappy as the schlockiest, no-budget, direct to video American fright flicks. Yeah I hate elitist jag-offs like that and for years I’ve heard the members of the “I like things just because they are largely unknown” club go on and on about the Coffin Joe movies from the ’60s but I wrote such things off as the typical claptrap.
Then I got this movie for review and damn it, but if this movie is an example of the previous two films then the snobs may have been right. And I really hate that.
Ok, preamble over, time for some history. Back in 1964 Brizalian writer, director, actor Jose Mojica Marins made the first movie about the evilest undertaker this side of The Tall Man: Coffin Joe. Marins even played the part of Joe and that film had the awesome title of At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul. In 1967 Joe returned for This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse. Then there came … nothing. For over forty years Coffin Joe was silent. But in 2008 one of the greatest comebacks in horror history happened when Jose Mojica Marins, in his seventies no less, put on the top hat and got back behind and in front of the camera once more for the third and final Joe movie. But can any magic that the other two movies had still be alive after forty years? While I can’t attest to the first two flicks, I can say that this movie was quite the experience.
Embodiment Of Evil begins with Coffin Joe getting released from prison after forty years for his previous naughty deeds. Almost as soon as the prison gates close behind him he starts back up with his life long quest to find the perfect woman to bear his child before he dies. And Joe’s willing to torture and murder anyone and everyone to get what he wants. That is, when he’s not suffering from nightmares and flashbacks about all his previous victims. Good thing he has his trusty hunchback (no, really) to help him and the total lack of a moral compass so he can do incredibly horrible things. How horrible? Well Eli Roth, Takashi Miike or anyone else for that matter don’t have nothing on Jose Mojica Marins for evil nastiness.
While I liked the movie on many levels, what really blew me away was just how great everything looked. The use of color is amazing and reminded me of Dario Argento and that’s a huge compliment coming from me. There was also a palatable and creepy gothic feel to everything you just don’t see any more in movies made today. You add to that a spicy, south of the border flavor and you have a refreshing break from all the crappy remakes that Hollywood tries to pass off as horror movies these days.
This new Blu-ray/DVD combo package from Synapse Films is just a beauty to behold. Synapse has always busted their butts to bring out the best video transfers available but they have really outdone themselves with this Blu-ray. As I said, Marins is a master of color and this film just comes alive in High-Def. If for no other reason than just to treat your eyes to a truly great looking, if at times bloody and icky, film, you should get this movie on Blu-ray if you can or DVD if you must. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Now as cool as the film was, not everything is all wine and roses here. I must admit to being somewhat disappointed with the very limited selection of extras on these discs. There are two pretty short features, a trailer, and that’s it. No interviews, no commentary tracks, no critical analysis, no anything. While the addition of extras can’t make a bad movie good, their all but absence can make the Blu-ray of a good movie a bit of a bummer. That said, Embodiment Of Evil is more than good enough to warrant a purchase even with somewhat lackluster bonus features.
Lastly, let me end by stressing that even without seeing the previous movies of this series I still easily picked up and followed the storyline here and thoroughly enjoyed this film. Now that’s saying something. How many trilogies do you know of that you can come into at the end and still enjoy as much as the first movie? So if you are like the vast majority of horror fans out there and have never seen a Coffin Joe movie before, don’t let that stop you from getting Embodiment Of Evil on Blu-ray. Get it today and the next time the cool horror kids start talking about little seen fright films, you just might impress them with you own nugget of the obscure.