Embodiment of Evil (2008)
Reviewed by Debi Moore
Starring José Mojica Marins, Jece Valadão, Rui Rezende, Cristina Aché, Cléo de Páris, Nara Sakarê
Directed by José Mojica Marins
Written by José Mojica Marins and Dennison Ramalho
Forty years. Forty long, lonely years. That's how long fans have waited for the third installment of the Coffin Joe trilogy. And now that I was fortunate enough to watch the final chapter, the aptly named Embodiment of Evil (or Encarnação do Demônio as it's known in Brazil), I'm happy to report that our patience has definitely been paid off in spades.
How do I even begin to describe the events that transpire? Things start off relatively tamely. Our grave-digging hero (Marins) is released from the mental ward of the state penitentiary 40 years after being imprisoned due to his actions in This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse, which are explained and expanded upon via a new flashback sequence in which Raymond Castile portrays the young Zé do Caixão (aka Coffin Joe). Upon leaving the facility, he is met by his trusty hunchback sidekick Bruno (Rezende), who has prepared an underground lair in one of São Paulo's slum areas for his master to hide out in. As a bonus, Bruno has rounded up four new disciples who are ready to lay down their lives to prove their loyalty to Joe.
Things pick up considerably from there as we are introduced to Colonel Claudiomiro Pontes (Valadão), whom it turns out Joe blinded in one eye prior to his arrest, and his wife, Lucy Pontes (Aché), the attorney who was secretly responsible for getting Joe released from prison. As you can imagine, the Colonel is none too pleased when he learns of Lucy's betrayal and beats her until she reveals Joe's whereabouts. Meanwhile, Joe continues his quest to find the superior woman to bear him a child so that his bloodline will become eternal. He's first visited by Hilda (de Páris), a doctor who is working on blood research and is more than willing to subject herself to Joe's depravity (and what he has in store for her is a doozy!) if it means she can prove her theories.
After he's done with Doctor Hilda, Joe sets his sights on Elena (Sakarê), the niece of two blind gypsy fortune tellers who try to keep her from him. As is typical in Coffin Joe films, they are no match for him, and he and Elena wind up doing the nasty while the old women's blood pours over them from the ceiling where Joe has hung their mutilated remains. The scene that follows their coupling is one of the most bizarre of the entire series -- Joe enters what looks like Elena's vagina (or intestines, I'm not exactly sure which) and is shown purgatory, hell, and death by a character known as the Mystifier. Just another day in Coffin Joe Land!
Mixed in among the mayhem, Joe is haunted by the ghosts of some of the women he killed in the first two films. They are rendered in black & white, which is extremely effective and gives the proceedings a distinctly eerie look and feel. In addition, one of Joe's followers engages in a very graphic body suspension exercise; there's a monk who electrocutes his nipples and then teams up with the Colonel's brother to hunt down Joe; and don't even ask what happens to the poor woman who gets melted cheese poured over her naked body. I could quite possibly be scarred for life from that one! And that's only the tip of the surreal iceberg the audience bears witness to in Embodiment of Evil, but to say any more would surely spoil the surprise and enjoyment to be derived from it all.
You may look at my rating of this film and ask how it could possibly be deserving of a "perfect" score. For me Coffin Joe flicks are in a class of their own and don't adhere to the usual standards associated with critiquing a production. Sure, the acting is a bit uneven and over-the-top, but therein lies its charm. Marins doesn't so much recite his lines as make sweeping proclamations and emphatic declarations. Does he always make sense? Of course not -- what's the fun in that? On the technical side of things, his crew is above reproach. The imagery is nothing short of mind-blowing, and there's a good reason why Embodiment of Evil won 7 of 15 categories at last year's Paulinia Film Festival in Brazil including best film, the critics' choice award, best photography (José Roberto Eliezer), best film editing (Paulo Sacramento), best sound editing (Ricardo Reis), best soundtrack (André Abujamra and Márcio Nigro), and best art direction (Cássio Amarante).
José Mojica Marins may be a 72-year-old senior citizen, but he still commands the screen -- and the ladies -- like nobody's business. In Coffin Joe he has crafted a horror icon so full of sadism, immorality, and brutality that he would undoubtedly make even Jigsaw squirm and send Jason running home to Mommy. At one point he exclaims, "I look after my corpses!" And Embodiment of Evil proves he also looks after his fans, of which I am proud to consider myself one of the biggest.
5 out 5
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