The infamous Coffin Joe is released from a mental institution after 40 years and continues his search for a woman to carry his perfect son. With the help of his followers he has to put women through tests to be sure he picks the right one. But things get complicated when his past comes back to haunt him and the local cops want him dead.
Coffin Joe is a known character in the horror world and he became even more known to the younger generation after the final entry in his trilogy was made in 2008. This film ends the trilogy more than 40 years after the previous installment, but the character of Coffin Joe has been in a couple of films outside of the "real" trilogy. Personally I have only seen the trilogy and that's where my interest mostly is, but because I have the box set I know I will give the other films a shot at some point too. Not to mention I would enjoy finding some of Marins' old smut films as well.
For those who don't know, Coffin Joe is a gravedigger who dresses all in black, with a cape, a top hat and has abnormaly long fingernails. Coffin Joe's mission in life is, as I said, to find a woman suitable to carry his spawn. "Embodiment of Evil" finally ends his search and I think it's done well enough to feel like it's okay to put the trilogy to rest now. In his final search he is joined by a small group of followers that worship him and are willing to do anything to help. After Coffin Joe has a run-in with one of the local cops, the cop makes it his goal to kill Joe, with the help of the police force and a priest. But this isn't the only thing that is making things hard for Coffin Joe. He is also haunted by the ghosts of the people he killed in the previous films. Even though he is a very powerful man, these visions are a nightmare to him. But nothing stops him in his quest. In his dark, gothic basement he captures women and perform tests on them to see who is the right one.
While I'm of the opinion that maybe three movies was a bit much for Coffin Joe's search for a woman, I still think they are all offering something unique. "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" goes very well together with "This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse" as they are both from the same decade and the latter picks up where the first one ended. "Embodiment of Evil" is, as expected, a much more modern film with better production values overall. The most important thing remains the same, though, and that's having José Mojica Marins in the lead role. He has the 40 years added to him because the actor (and director) is now 40 years older. This and that he is still the director are the two things that makes this a successful finale.
The film suffers from similar things as the two previous ones did as well: they don't seem to be compact enough. The ideas and events are all over the place. A lot is confusing and while that is hard to complain about when the movies have carried a surreal touch to them since the beginning, it is still something that could've been worked on. I really do think that if the two first films were made into one 2 hour movie, I'd be enjoying the story as a whole a lot more, and I say that still digging the trilogy. The macho persona that is Coffin Joe comes off as comical yet again, and while I think it is charming, I'm not sure that was the point. He is one evil son of a bitch, but at the same time it's humorous in a way. I don't strictly see this as a bad thing, but just one of those little pieces that could've been laid differently.
If we're gonna focus on the positives for a second, "Embodiment of Evil" is just as sacrilegious, political and twisted as the films were 40 years ago. There are few films to compare them to and that's the case here as well. Political metaphors are spat out by the dozen and while I still need to underline that I don't care about politics (especially in Brazil) I still find it pleasing seeing it done by a macho devil such as Coffin Joe.
The movie is also very interesting because overall I'd call it a torture film, but the torture is done in very odd ways. Maybe "odd" is the wrong word to use, but there is definitely a sense that the character's ways of torture are stuck in the 60's, and the gothic style his character always had. They're not simply a man cutting a person and laughing, as you'll see in a lot of modern torture films. Here it's also not torture to kill a person, but to test a person. Big difference, which is probably the reason why the "torture" takes forms such as being put down into a barrel of bile and blood, being covered on cockroaches and being sown into a pig carcass.
It's filled with nudity and violence (lots of blood, not as much actual gore) where no one is spared no matter what sex or age and definitely pleases the gorehounds and all other sleazy fucks but it would be a shame if that's what you went into this film for because it's really just a part of something bigger. Even though you can watch this and still follow the complete story thanks to flashbacks, the character of Coffin Joe doesn't manage to completely show himself as much as he would do if you watched all films. It's times as these where you sort of wished that the films were called "Coffin Joe 3" (or rather, "Zé do Caixão 3") to keep away those who haven't seen the previous. Not saying it's not a good film on its own, though.
One of the nice touches that José Mojica Marins brings to the table is the way Coffin Joe's visions show themselves. These were some of the best parts as the ghosts of the victims were all in black and white to match the old films. No other reason than that, really, but it does so much to the film and makes each vision memorable. Even though I can't say that the visions overall made much impact on the story, it was still something that just made it slightly more enjoyable.
"Embodiment of Evil" is strange, sleazy, violent and an absolute ending to a trilogy that started in the early 60's (at least I hope this is the end, another one would feel stupid). This and "This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse" are tied as my favorites simply because it's hard to compare the two, while I feel that "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" is a long introduction more than anything. The one thing that made "This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse" stand out so much was the great vision of hell sequence. That's just one of those scenes that reminds me of greats like "Viy". "Embodiment of Evil" was made in a time where it's harder to make something new, and it doesn't really come out as something groundbreaking but still good enough. It's not a let down to the fans of the Coffin Joe persona and that's what really matters. That it carries a lot of the style and feel is just what it needs, but it can never truly achieve the gothic and almost psychadelic style the originals had simply because it's made now and not then. However, it is still a very visual and experimental films and if the previous films proved anything it was that José Mojica Marins is a great visionary.