Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coffin Joe: Embodiment of Evil DVD review

Hey hey, my my, Coffin Joe will never die!

Man, I feel sorry for anyone who has never experienced the movie magnificence of Jose Mojica Marins. The Brazilian boogeyman in the fetching undertaker's hat and badass cape has given his people, and indeed the entire world, a true gift in the form of Coffin Joe. This sinister character (it actually seems more an extension of Marins than a simple role) has terrorized and thrilled audiences for decades, and now, at 75, the elderly madman is back in black and shows absoutely no sign of wimping out. It's been a lonely chunk of years without Coffin Joe raising his coiled fingernails to the skies in the name of all that is unholy. But like a lost vampire wandering aimlessly through the endless desert and happening upon a warm pool of refreshing blood beneath the palms, Embodiment of Evil swoops down as a great beast to excrete a thirst quenching blast of everything the extreme movie fan's body needs to function properly.

The direction of an Embodiment of Evil trailer view I checked out a couple years back was reassuring, but my nerves were still somewhat on edge. How would the years and a much changed movie industry affect Marins and this next installment? Well, it is with a degree of sick pleasure that I found the film to be very close to how I hoped it would be in this day and age. First, the level of sadism, psychopathy and evil are in the deep red. I was reminded of Jan Svankmajer's 'Lunacy,' not due to any particular similarities in style but with respect to seeing a filmmaker who has not mellowed with age or toned down the cinematic chaos they created in their earlier years. One's own fear of closing mortality can certainly instigate a life review and an easing back of extremity and religious skewering out of fear of what's to come out "there." Well, Svankmajer and Morins jus don't give a fuck, and as hardcore seniors, they keep comin' out guns a blazin' and taking no prisoners.

As the 3rd release in the Coffin Joe trilogy, the story of Embodiment of Evil is straight forward but none the less nicely fucked up. C.J. is released from prison after a lengthy term and immediately resumes his quest to find the ideal female loins to implant his demon seed. Of corpse, there are those who try and stop this noble quest. Fools! What we get along the way are the awesome evil rantings of a maniacal genious philosopher, bodily dismemberment and skull bashing cruelty. As with previous Coffin Joe incantations, there are moments of surrealism and hokey coolness. I love that Coffin Joe himself, the Godfather of All Ghouls, gets scared and freaked out by some of the shit that he sees. The image of a zombified ex hanging from a tree in the woods and talking to him prompts an awesome terrified reaction! There are scenes and scenerios that would never be effective or work if they had been produced by someone trying too hard to make a fucked up film (Harmony Korine!). To Jose Mojica Marins, this shit just comes naturally and it shows. To other wannabes, the forced weirdness is blatant and falls flat.

There are random updates to the stylistic qualities that diminsh aspects of the film to a degree, but by and large, Embodiment is refreshing and it delivers in spades. Synapse have released the film as a BLU/DVD combo and it comes with a Making Of and footage from the Fantasia premiere.

Now, if I could only find my old VHS tape of Marins as Coffin Joe appearing on The Arsenio Hall Show. He came out in a casket, covered in maggots. Anyone got this??