Jan 26, 2009

Embodiment of Evil

I cannot think of a single film more dreadfully awaited than Coffin Joe's blazing finale to an untitled trilogy that began with At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul and remained left open with This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse. His recently announced Encarnação do Demônio (Embodiment of Evil) sent shock waves through the horror community, or rather, those lucky enough to have heard of the icon's terrifying legacy of subversive and philosophizing horror film of macabre dreams. Something didn't rest well with me. Something was returning to the surface.

As the teaser poster "teased" fans with Coffin Joe's memorable razor nails protruding for a grate in a cell, these bold colors and magnificently well shot stills brought a similar experiment in neo-revivification; Dario Argento's desperate The Mother of Tears rings steady in my mind. Argento replaced hallucinogenic set pieces and the giallo tradition of supernaturally violent deaths with exceptional lighting and cinematography destroying most ambiance and replacing the complex murders with a gore bath worthy of a French new-wave feminist film. Terror filled my heart and just like Coffin Joe in his latest installment, I too was filled with fantastical visions of future suffering. Could you have guessed that Embodiment of Evil isn't the worst film to come out this year? It isn't the worst but I'd have a difficult time finding one more disappointing than this expedition in frequent nudity and pointless gore.

In the final moments of This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse, the exalted Coffin Joe exclaimed "God! I believe in your power!". Of course the line originally read "I don't believe in God! I'll be back!" but censors wouldn't pass the film unless this ending was changed. Jose Mojica Marins decided to find a lookalike to film some additional footage in the aesthetic style of his 60s endeavors. Incredible lookalike Raymond Castile plays the part reenacting Marins' vision for his second film. Thus leaves the entrance of the third film a bit more explained, but this is not the redemption the film needs. It's never explained how Zé do Caixao ended up being imprisoned. All we realize is that upon his release, his outside community has changed drastically. This is displayed rather crudely and comically as Joe stares disapprovingly at 2 dark "slumdogs" on the sidewalk huffing inhalants.

Like any intelligent man, Marins first attempts to relive the intelligence of his dreary monologues of the past by visually inserting ideals of the continuity of blood line in newcomers psyche's. In the past, his words had a rustic value. Each individual syllable grates your ear canal with often pretentious but magical words illustrating Coffin Joe's intentions for life, death, and his revival (sort of) within a perfect child conceived by a perfect woman. In the past, Coffin Joe has been known to torment his beautiful captors with terror games including spiders and snakes. In the present, he would much rather cover them with cheese to insert a rat in their vagina. Yeah, that totally wasn't stolen from American Psycho or anything. To be ridiculously fair, few scenes stand out amongst the garbage. Coffin Joe mating under a torrential rain of blood is quite fascinating and a women sewn inside a pig corpse make up most of the prime scenes of this film.

The magic of Coffin Joe is gone, evaporated. I still immensely enjoy his classic outings, even his pseudo-film experiments such as Hallucination of a Deranged Mind and Awakening of the Beast, but this new film is an absolute disgrace to be in the same list as At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul and This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse. Clever vintage antics have been replaced by Big budgeted editing with amazing special effects and stunts involving the degradation of women for no means. Coffin Joe's quest is in vain by this time and he's too old to have any of the screen presence that he has been known in the past for. The best method of making a choice if you should see this is clear. If you liked Argento's The Mother of Tears, go for it. Give this film a chance it doesn't deserve but don't say I didn't warn you. The day I see Coffin Joe busting shots at corrupt police officers would be the day I decided to hang up the towel. After roughly explaining the plot, my friend responded "You mean like Saw?". Yes Derek, like Saw.



Phantom of Pulp said...

God, what a disappointment! I've been so hanging out for this.

No rat insertions? What the fuck is the world coming to?

Color me bummed out by this review.

Since you're clearly "one of us", your review hurts even more.


jervaise brooke hamster said...

Yeah but its still better than anything the British film industry has ever produced (or could ever dream of producing).