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March 17, 2011

Movie Review: Embodiment Of Evil (2008, Blu-Ray, Synapse Films)

A couple years ago a local theater was having a Sci-Fi Horror Film Festival. It was three days long but I was only able to attend Friday and Saturdays films and festivities. Of course I had to be working when they were premiering Jose Mojica Marin’s third entry in the Coffin Joe trilogy, Embodiment Of Evil. But hey, that’s the past, now I get to see it in the comfort of my own home on Blu-ray courtesy of the folks at Synapse films. This is Synapse’s second Blu-ray. The first was Vampire Circus and that was a exceptional release. Could they follow-up with a kick-ass Embodiment Of Evil release?
Buy the Embodiment Of Evil DVD & Blu-ray Combo

Most of you that will be watching “Embodiment” have seen Marins’ previous Brazilian horror classic offerings, At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964) and This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse (1967) – more than likely from the out of print Fantoma ”Coffin Joe” Set. If you haven’t the story is pretty simple: Coffin Joe is a murderous undertaker pent on finding a woman that will birth him a son. The film opens where Joe is being released after being locked up for over 40 years in an insane asylum because his initial efforts had failed. Now the gnarly finger-nailed psycho is back to finish what he was unsuccessful at achieving – this time with a posse of equally demented cohorts.

One thing that I loved about Embodiment Of Evil was some of the sporadic “intentional” humor. Right as Coffin Joe is released from prison he’s nearly killed by a car while walking across the street with his humble servant, Bruno ( Rui Resende). It turns out to be a fairly funny scene with both men looking like bumbling fools. It soon becomes apparent that Marins isn’t just satisfied with frightening viewers, displaying disturbing imagery and titillating with the rampant nudity, he also wants to attack your funny bone. This is refreshing and a huge part of what makes “Embodiment” work beautifully.

Joe experiences several nightmares during his journey. These for the most part are extremely effective and show a true vulnerability to this character that’s become so elusive to the authorities as well as a priest determined to destroy Coffin Joe for his actions years before. There’s one specific scene that involves Joe being haunted by a grotesque hanging woman in a graveyard. What happens after he spots the body swinging from the tree, I’ll leave to your imagination.

Nothing’s really off limits in Marin’s vision. If anything he tops what he achieved in the previous films in terms of “over-the-top” imagery. Embodiment of Evil is GORY! Lips are bitten off, intestines are spooled out, a rat invades a nubile woman’s womb and there’ s graphic scene of an ass-cheek being cut off a woman’s hind quarters. That’s just part of what you will experience. Oh and did I mention the wall-to-wall nudity exhibited ? Actually, I did. But yes , again Marins' appreciation for the female form is without any doubt here.

Synapse Films has done a superb job with the overall presentation of this Blu-Ray. As soon as you slip this disc in your Blu-Ray player your treated to a credit sequence narrated by Marins that literally pops off the screen. It’s really that good. The colors are gorgeous and the flesh-tones are spot on. The sound resonates perfectly too. I was very impressed. This isn’t just a genre film on Blu-Ray, it’s an actual “Blu-Ray”, with High-Definition quality and not just the label of Hi-Def. Some companies haven’t quite figured that out, Synapse on the other had, get it.

We’re also treated to some fine supplementary material that an include some cool footage of the Embodiement Of Evil premiere at the renowned Fantasia Film Festival in Canada, the original theatrical trailer and an excellent featurette of Embodiment Of Evil. The featurette is in Portuguese but has English subtitles to accompany some crew interviews and behind the scenes footage that includes the opening prison sequence.

The Embodiment Of Evil is one of the best horror films I've had the pleasure of seeing in at least a decade. Coffin Joe maintains the lovable, huggable persona that we fell in love with in his previous films, except here, he piles on two of my favorite things - boobs and splatter. Synapse has done an outstanding job with this release and just make the anticipation of Dorm That Dripped Blood and their future Blu-rays that much stronger.

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