JANUARY 31, 2009
A few months back, a friend put on a copy of Embodiment Of Evil (Brazilian: Encarnação do Demônio), the long-awaited proper return of Coffin Joe (director/star José Mojica Marins). It was after a open bar party, it was 3 in the morning and it was subtitled, so you can guess how much of the film I actually saw (hint: none). So I jumped at the chance to watch it “again”, at 1230 in the afternoon (and fully sober). And I am glad I did, because this is easily the best Joe film yet, and proves that Marins hasn’t lost his touch or his edge.
Since the plot is the same as always, let’s just run down a list of a few highlights. Joe dips a woman’s face into a bowl full of cockroaches. Joe cuts a woman’s ass cheek off and then feeds it to her (more on her later). Joe has a vision in which an albino takes him on a tour of a woman’s vagina, and then later some sort of desert landscape in which women are feasting on male genitalia. And in the film’s most horrifying (read: applause worthy) moment, Joe shows what you can do with some melted butter, a rat, and a vaginal entrance. Needless to say, this is hardly some sort of politically correct “modernized” Joe - if anything, it makes the other films look downright tame in comparison.
What’s cool is that it actually follows the other films (though how he survived the finale of This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse is a bit of a mystery - he is shown to simply have been in jail for 40 years). Joe (no one calls him Ze in this one, though that might just be a subtitling decision) is haunted by victims from the previous films, and while the film is in full color, their ghostly apparitions are in black and white, which is a terrific visual. He also resurrects Bruno, the loyal hunchback assistant - a nice touch that I wouldn’t have appreciated had I watched the film a few months back, as I hadn’t yet seen the first two.
The only real flaw is that an intriguing plot point is set up early on - Joe meets a woman who is seemingly his equal, rambling about perfection, the ineffectiveness of religion, etc (Joe’s crazy talk is as wonderfully nutty as ever). But after she willingly eats her own ass cheek as part of her “I will prove I am worthy to have your son” test, she disappears from the film entirely until the very end. I was really hoping to see him interact with this seemingly perfect woman, but instead the film follows the same pattern as Corpse, with Joe kidnapping, testing, and then fucking various women, while being pursued by angry townsfolk and yelling about God a lot.
Also there’s no poker game, which bummed me out.
But the movie is so gonzo (and gory!) that you might not even really notice the things that are missing. Joe’s re-introduction to the world is handled well (and hilariously - he is hit by a car the second he walks out of the prison), and he certainly hasn’t lost his ability to cause chaos in his old age. He even gets into an epic sword fight with a monk, and fucks the shit out of a girl on the floor, as the blood from her aunts (whom he had just killed and hung from the ceiling) rains down over them. And the ending sets up a 4th film that could very well be the best movie ever made.
For whatever reason (more than likely, that reason involves the aforementioned “cheese” scene), this film has not been scheduled for distribution in the US. FOX owns international rights, but as of yet have no desire to even send it direct to video here (a theatrical run in its current state would be nigh on impossible - even Mother of Tears’ vertical impalement scene is nothing compared to some of this stuff). I just hope whenever it DOES see a stateside release that it is presented uncut - trying to tame this beast would be counterproductive.
What say you?