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Embodiment of Evil(2008)
After 30 years in a cell for the mentally ill, Coffin Joe is finally freed. Back on the streets, the sadistic gravedigger is set on fulfilling that for which he was imprisoned: find the woman who can give him the perfect child. During his wanderings through the city of Sâo Paulo he leaves behind a trail of horror as he faces unnatural laws and popular beliefs.
For more about Embodiment of Evil and the Embodiment of Evil Blu-ray release, see Embodiment of Evil Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 14, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: José Mojica Marins, Milhem Cortaz, Jece Valadão, Adriano Stuart, Rui Resende, José Celso Martinez Corrêa
Director: José Mojica Marins
» See full cast & crew
Embodiment of Evil Blu-ray Review
Horror dreck or genre gold?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 14, 2011
Higher than God, lower than Satan.
They sure got the title right. Embodiment of Evil is an apt descriptor of the man known as "Coffin Joe," a sadistic individual with a penchant for torture, a lust for spreading his seed, and a refusal to pick up a pair of nail clippers. Embodiment of Evil is a sequel to a pair of black and white Brazilian Horror pictures from the 1960s, 1963's At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul and 1967's This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse. Director José Mojica Marins's 2008 followup doesn't have the same extended cult-sounding midnight movie sort of title, but this is a no-holds-barred masterpiece of the macabre, a picture that's as visually disturbing as it is thematically cockeyed. Blood and gore abound, but so too do a troupe of unusual characters who perform any number of sadistic acts for and with their master. The movie doesn't make a whole lot of sense as a standalone piece -- even considering the revelation of the basic plots from and flashbacks to the previous pictures -- but Embodiment of Evil seems more like a movie built for the visual experience than any kind of dramatic or emotional resonance.
"Coffin Joe" (played by Director José Mojica Marins) has been in prison forty years for a series of grisly crimes, and he's about to be granted his freedom. Nobody thinks it's a good idea -- his time in the slammer hasn't rehabilitated him at all -- but the law is the law, and soon the notorious madman is back on the streets. He immediately sets out to once again fulfill his task of finding the perfect woman to bear him a child and continue on what he believes to be his superior bloodline. With the help of several unflinchingly loyal minions, Coffin Joe views several women and ultimately finds Elena (Nara Sakarê), who is herself a devoted follower of Coffin Joe's ways but whose aunts have vowed to protect her from the crazed individual. However, Joe is haunted by the image of his past victims, leaving him to sort out his own evil deeds while struggling to defeat his own personal demons. Meanwhile, a local detective, Claudiomiro Pontes (Jece Valadão); and Father Eugênio (Milhem Cortaz), the son of one of Joe's previous victims; vow to track down the madman and end is reign of terror once and for all and, most importantly, prevent him from spreading his seed to a willing mother.
Embodiment of Evil is just plain weird. In fact, it's so weird that it's difficult to tell how much of what's happening is supposed to be real and how much of it is supposed to be a hallucination, or, indeed, if the entire thing is supposed to be the figment of someone's imagination, whether Coffin Joe's or not. Flashbacks to previous movies, in black and white, no less, only add to the film's oddball nature, as does some of the characters's throwback stylings and Victorian era garb. Coffin Joe even enjoys the company of a severely humpbacked helper, and the contrast between Joe's realm that seems some hundreds of years out-of-date with what is otherwise a modern world with modern sensibilities -- including the release of a deadly lunatic predator from prison -- also adds to the film's unique look and feel. The picture never gives off any kind of vibe that would suggest it to be something more in the mainstream or, more critical to the film's appeal, on any kind of discernable even keel. Whether it was the filmmakers's intent or not to make a movie this out-of-whack isn't completely clear -- signs point to "yes," though -- but nothing about Embodiment of Evil is played on the straight-and-narrow and if nothing else, it's worth checking out if only for its oddball styling.
Of course, "worth checking out" comes with a caveat. Not only is this a "trippy" sort of movie, it's also one that's terribly grotesque. There's some pretty sick and twisted stuff going on here, from a woman forced to eat a chunk of her own flesh to other acts of unspeakable cannibalism. Embodiment of Evil leaves nothing to the imagination in terms of its gore; it's highly detailed as the camera lingers on bloody and tangling sinewy flesh, making it both revolting but oddly appealing at the same time, the former for the sheer awfulness of it and the latter for the wonder that the effects artists could make it look so real. Embodiment of Evil gives any of the Saw movies a run for their money in terms of on-screen brutality. Be warned. On the flip side, Embodiment of Evil features some wonderful photography and set decoration; it goes hand-in-hand with everything else, really, only adding to what is already a very visually-based picture. There was certainly some attention to detail in making this picture tread the line between reality and fantasy; nothing about it is ever certain, which is certainly its primary appeal. Lastly, the performances can be a little goofy in an over-the-top sort of way; José Mojica Marins camps things up considerably, overplaying his hand while on-screen but keeping things on that imaginary line quite well while working off it. The dual roles don't seem to hinder his performance either way; hamming it up seems like the most logical way to take a character like "Coffin Joe" while making sure he lives up to the picture's title, and in more ways than one at that.
Embodiment of Evil Blu-ray, Video Quality
Embodiment of Evil -- the second Blu-ray release from Synapse Films behind Vampire Circus -- sports a relatively high quality 1080p transfer that's not without a few drawbacks, but it's generally a rock-solid release. The image retains a fair amount of visible grain, but it also lessens considerably in some scenes. While the scenes with a lesser grain field offer up an image that's a bit more glossy, neither characters nor the objects around them ever look like plastic. Indeed, general detail is excellent, even if parts of the image look fairly flat. Facial textures are fantastic even from a medium distance, and viewers will become intimately familiar with "Coffin Joe's" scraggly eyebrows in the film's many closeup shots. General fine object detail is wonderful, too, whether the rusted and battered look of an old prion cell or the vast amounts of collected dust on Joe's coffin. Colors are steady and natural, never turning too warm, excessively bright, or too terribly subdued; blood red does tend to stand out quite a bit. Blacks are generally solid though there appears to be a slight loss of detail in some of the darker scenes, but flesh tones remains fairly accurate. A few edge halos are visible from time to time, but troublesome banding and blocking are non-factors. While it's not a perfect image, Embodiment of Evil does look quite good on Blu-ray; fans should be pleased, particularly with how well the transfer picks up all the little colors and details of the various gore scattered throughout the movie.
Embodiment of Evil Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Embodiment of Evil features a Portuguese language DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack that's even better than the accompanying video presentation. It's a robust, well-rounded track that delivers hearty, well-spaced music and various ambient sound effects equally well. Indeed, Synapse's track makes full use of the entire soundstage in support of both elements with regularity, in addition to a tight but heavy low end. Whether aggressive music or bone-chilling sound effects that set the stage for the various grisly sequences -- dripping water, splattering blood, creaky metal, booming thunder, victim screams -- this lossless track delivers everything asked of it with a full, vigorous tenor. Clarity is quite good in every regard, too, including the always crisp, accurate, and center-focused dialogue. No dubbed language tracks are available, but Synapse has included English subtitles.
Embodiment of Evil Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, Embodiment of Evil features only a minimal assortment of extras, though the "Making Of" piece is of a fairly high quality.
Embodiment of Evil Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Embodiment of Evil is a tough picture to figure out. Maybe it makes more sense if viewed in context with the previous two entries in the series, but even the picture's various flashbacks and recollection of the basic storyline don't really help to clear things up. Director José Mojica Marins's film reigns supreme atop the "oddball Horror" heap, and toss in a native Portuguese audio track and some goings-on that make even the most hardcore of American Horror pictures look tame by comparison, and the film is destined to find notoriety amongst genre aficionados in search of something off-the-wall different. Synapse Films's Blu-ray release of Embodiment of Evil is quite good; a fair-to-good 1080p transfer, a high quality lossless soundtrack, and a few extras (including a DVD copy of the film) make this a set fans can buy with relative confidence, but newcomers are strongly encouraged to rent, hopefully alongside copies of the previous two entries of the series.
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Embodiment of Evil Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Embodiment of Evil Blu-ray Announced - November 22, 2010
Synapse Films has announced the Portuguese-language horror film Embodiment of Evil (Encarnação do Demônio) for Blu-ray release on February 8, 2011, in a BD/DVD combo pack edition. This is the third film of the "Coffin Joe Trilogy," which began with At Midnight ...
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