BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Jul 14th, 2014 •

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I`m going to start this review with a riddle. Who’s male, wears a hat and has razor finger nails? That’s an easy one: it’s Freddy of course.

Wrong. Long before the burnt child killer stalked its victims on the silver screen a very different nightmare hero owned the night. Before I get into the film review I feel it behooves me to give some background information. In top hat, cape, and long finger nails, Coffin Joe swept the big screen in the mid sixties and a Brazil horror icon was born. The first in a trilogy starts with AT MIDNIGHT I`LL TAKE YOUR SOUL (1964) followed by THIS NIGHT I`LL POSSESS YOUR CORPSE (1967) then finally AWAKENING OF THE BEAST (1970) Fast forward to year two thousand and eight: another Coffin Joe film is made – EMBODIMENT OF EVIL. It’s been forty long years in a mental asylum but our long-nailed friend is released being fit to regain society. Like the previous films the object of Joe`s desire is simple, find the perfect woman to carry on his legacy (i.e. a male child). This time, however, he is not alone, having a small following of loyal cult members (one of which is Bruno, a hunchback) to help him carry out his evil dreams. When choosing this film to review I must admit I did so with some trepidation, due to the fact I’m a huge fan of the earlier installments in the Coffin Joe saga and did not want to see anything less worthy be in the cannon of his films.

So I invited my cinematic partner in crime William over and with a few cracked beers and a greasy pizza in our paws we turned out the lights and prepared to experience whatever nasty surprises the filmmakers had in store. Ninety minutes later I was stunned at how good it was. I was in fact not disappointed but rather insanely entertained. Not only does it work as a horror film but is a fitting tribute to MIDNIGHT and POSSESS and even surpassed my high expectations.

Haven’t seen the previous Coffin Joe movies? Well first off I’d urge you to do so as soon as possible. But I feel you don’t have to see the previous films to enjoy this one. This is due to nicely placed clips from MIDNIGHT put into a proper context for anyone to understand. However fans of Coffin Joe lore are in for a treat as there are numerous references and inside jokes that make this a fun film. The choice of having past victims haunt Joe is great, but having them do so in black and white like the original films is just pure genius, almost like they’re forever trapped in the aged moving picture, a much higher concept then I expected.

They say the devil is in the details and nothing is truer in the case of EMBODIMENT, which thrives greatly by the details in both the set design and the visuals. I can’t say enough good things about how this film looks, it’s both macabre and ghastly, yet at the same time striking and beautiful. A scene that comes to mind is when Joe and a mysterious guide travel to the underworld. Anyone else would show a traditional lake of fire or some bullshit like that, yet here it’s a desert wasteland of pain and suffering, human organs being ripped from the damned and literally rivers of blood covering the vast plain. It’s these details in the set design that saves this film from being campy and over the top. One could say the best visual of all is that of Joe himself who, even after forty years, still has a presence unmatched by any modern slasher/psychopath in cinema. His evil stare, the long nasty finger nails, and trademark top hat are reasons why his image has remained a horror icon to this day. Just try not to shiver when Joe’s eyes turn blood red.

Will there be blood, you might ask? Oh hell, yes. Loads in fact. Long before EVIL DEAD (13) it rains blood in a purely stunning scene. One poor girl literally has her ass handed to her (after being chopped off) and fed to her. I must say that’s a first for cinema lovers. Like early Argento, the kills are bloody and plentiful, yet with a sense of flare and style, something that is sorely lacking in today’s films. The ending is quite bizarre and is truly worthy of being the last installment in a legacy that spans over forty years. So if you want a film with guts (plenty of them) style and shocking, cringe-worthy horror, this is no old hat. Let’s hope this isn’t the final nail in Coffin Joe.


Embodiment of Evil is presented in an aspect ratio of 16:9 (1.85.1). As always Synapse brings their A game with High Def resolution. Colors look rich, with red blood really popping off the screen. Blacks are also well defined and help with adding depth to the picture. Sound is also great with a nice 5.1 surround sound.


Supplementals are lacking, but what they do have is good. The first featurette is: Making of EMBODIMENT OF EVIL, a very entertaining look at the behind the scenes making of the film. It is also interesting as it provides some background on the history of the Coffin Joe film saga. The second, less interesting feature is footage from the Fantasia Film Festival. This is a fun addition to this disc. And rounding out the supplementals is the film’s original trailer.


Picture and Sound are fine, befitting the normal standards of Synapse. I was however disappointed with the lack of a commentary or a feature-length documentary on the legacy of Coffin Joe’s films, his impact on Brazilian cinema, and horror cinema in general. These however are minor complaints as this is a must buy for the film alone. Maybe we can hope Synapse will fill our coffins with the Original Trilogy on BluRay!

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One Response »

  1. Embodiment Of Evil is actually the third film in the trilogy. Awakening Of The Beast is not considered an actual Coffin Joe film and part of the series. The good news is….Synapse has secured the rights to the first two films and will be releasing them within the next year.

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