After forty years in prison, the evil gravedigger Josefel Zanatas a.k.a. Zé do Caixão is released by the lawyer Lucy Pontes in accordance with Brazilian Laws. He moves to the slums with his followers that worship him, and he seeks out the perfect woman to bear his children while haunted by the ghosts of his victims. The vigilante brothers Captain Osvaldo Pontes and his brother Coronel Claudiomiro from the Military Police chase Zé do Caixão in the slums to kill him and they find a track of tortured and mutilated bodies.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Hey Joe, where you going' with that big knife in your hand...
I've been an avid horror/exploitation fan for nigh on thirty years, and aware of the work of José Mojica Marins for twenty five of those, and yet this is the first of his films that I've actually seen. What the hell was I thinking? If his other stuff is anywhere near as bats**t insane as Embodiment of Evil (and the flashbacks in this film indicate that they might be) then I've been missing out on some seriously messed up movies.
The belated third film in Marins' Coffin Joe trilogy (the other two being 'At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul' in 1963 and 'This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse' in 1967), Embodiment of Evil sees the director once again growing his fingernails and donning top hat and black cloak to reprise his role as amoral gravedigger Josefel Zanatas (AKA Coffin Joe) who is released from prison after 40 years to continue his ambition to sire a perfect child. To achieve this goal, Joe enlists the help of a hunchback named Bruno and several other sadistic minions, who help him to abduct a series of potential mates, who he 'tests' for suitability by subjecting them to horrific acts of torture.
Marins, a man who clearly hasn't mellowed in his old age, directs and acts with gusto, relishing every nasty moment with sadistic glee, presenting every act in lurid gruesome detail, and throwing in some mind-bending surrealism for good measure. Shocking hellish visions; an endless parade of scared, naked women, broken, humiliated and ravished by Marins' perverse madman; whipping, flaying, branding, gouging, and scalping: the violence on display is depraved and extremely graphic, made all the more unsettling by the very probable use of performers for whom body modification and pain are no strangers; when hooks are inserted into a man's back before he is hoisted into the air, it looks all too real, as does a later scene in which a woman's lips are sewn shut!
To be honest, I still can't believe I bought this film on DVD from my local car-boot sale (they looked like such ordinary, decent folk as well...).
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