I surprised myself when I realised I had never seen a José Marins film, given that I’m a fan of all things horror, cult, weird, and gore. I’d heard of Coffin Joe before but never knew the extent of his ‘importance’ in this feverish section of the movie community. I suppose The Embodiment Of Evil is not the best place to start as it is the third part of a trilogy, but as this is hardcore, grindhouse stuff watching five minutes can be just as enjoyable or sickening, enlightening or boring as watching an entire series.
Coffin Joe is a rather messed up Undertaker whos has spent the last forty years growing his hair and nails in an asylum/prison after murdering countless people. His life has been led by his quest for the perfect woman; a woman he believes his good enough to give birth to his son and heir. Unfortunately for him every woman he meets fails to live up to his high standards and they inevitably get torturted, murdered, and if they’re lucky, eaten. After forty years though he is deemed safe and is released. Met by his own version of Igor (Bruno) he returns home to find he is something of a legend and hero to all the local maniacs. Immediately he begins his quest once more, sending out these followers to bring him back the choicest slices of women in the land.
Of course this is little more than a thank you to fans in finishing a beloved trilogy, a cash in on the recent trend for gore and grindhouse, and an excuse to chuck a pile of blood over the screen. Luckily for me i’m all for that sort of thing. Where such films are concerned I usually don’t care for much of a plot as that is never the point; all you need to know is where the bad guy is and what he is going to do to his victims. I’m not a fan however of poor acting, no matter how campy or how pointless the film may be and there is some poorness here. Joe has been around for decades though and knows what his audience expects, skulking around like every Vincent Price, Bela, Karloff etc character there has ever been. His character is interesting to an extent though nothing we see is particularly shocking, new, or frightening. I would have expected a few shocks but at least there is plenty of gore. There are a few particularly nice scenes, nothing as inventive as Argento but still fun to watch. Thankfully the production values are high enough that it doesn’t become a pain to watch, there are some nice, funny attempts at artistic, surrealist stuff but on the whole it’s how many die and will Joe get what he wants. If you’re a fan of this type of movie you’ll get something from it. If not you’ll likely never see it or be horrified or bored. Overall a decent attempt, a fond farewell (perhaps) to a much loved character and one whose history I will have to delve into later.