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Inside The Mind Of Coffin Joe (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review - Part Two

    Ian Jane

  • Inside The Mind Of Coffin Joe (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review - Part Two

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    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: January 16th, 2024.
    Director: José Mojica Marins
    Cast: Jose Mojica Marins, Luely Figueiró, Oswaldo De Souza, Nara Sakare, Jece Valadao, Milhem Cortaz
    Year: 1972/1976/1977/1978/2008
    Purchase From Amazon

    Inside The Mind Of Coffin Joe – Movie Review:

    While José Mojica Marins may have passed away in 2020, his legacy lives on! Proof positive of this is Arrow Video’s new six disc Blu-ray collection titled Inside The Mind Of Coffin Joe. Here’s the second part of our two part coverage.

    Click here for the first part of this review.

    Disc Four: When The Gods Fall Asleep / The Strange Hostel Of Naked Pleasures

    When The Gods Fall Asleep, released in 1972, is a sequel of sorts to The End Of Man with Mojica once again playing the role of Finis Homminis. He’s somehow escaped from an asylum and, wanting to save mankind, embarks on a mission to end suffering within mankind. Homminis sees mankind as delirious and in his own messianic way, wants to set things right.

    This involves him wandering around Brazil and puts a stop to a battle between a criminal, popular with the people in town, named Skull and a gangster named Chico, whose girlfriend is raped in a barrel by Skull. A brawl breaks out and then Skull's son is abducted while playing his accordion! Who snatched the kid? Homminis! He does this to get them to put aside their problems and work together and, puzzlingly, it works.

    From here, word gets out around town that Homminis is back. This leads into a sequence where a gory voodoo-style ritual plays out with some grisly footage of people biting off the heads of chickens in an attempt to open up the gates of Hell! The practitioners head out to the cemetery where they plan to sacrifice a woman to Satan only for Homminis to show up at the last minute and save her.

    From there, Homminis shows up and puts a stop to an illegitimate Gypsy marriage and subsequent fight that arises from it, urging everyone to enjoy life rather than try to kill one another, before then travelling across the land by foot, gathering followers as he does. While this is going on, the doctors at the asylum that Homminis escaped from try to figure out what to do about this situation and chaos erupts at a local house of ill repute.

    This seventy-seven minute picture opens with an odd diatribe where Homminis discusses how the supreme creative spirit is due to take over from world leaders as a man clad in gold paint struggles to hold a giant globe on his shoulders. From here, we see what would happen if the gods fall asleep - "the world is crazy!" Like a few of Mojica's other films, this one also cuts back and forth between color and black and white. The movie is repetitive in that it sets up a conflict of some sort only to have Homminis show up, rant at people and put a stop to it but it's also awesome for that same reason, as watching Homminis show up and rant at people is great. It’s all delivered in Mojica’s inimitable style, frequently garish and always over the top with plenty of exploitative elements and it’s as mystifying as it is entertaining.

    The Strange Hostel Of Naked Pleasures, from 1976, opens with an amazing scene where some guys play bongos and men clad in black dance while a bevy of buxom Brazilian beauties congregate around a coffin in a smoke filled room. This bizarre ritual leads to emerging out of his namesake receptacle as lightning flashes and people in strange masks run about. It's an amazing opening to an amazing movie and it's more than okay that this portion of the movie takes up more than ten percent of its running time.

    Now resurrected, Coffin Joe ponders the size of the universe and its various galaxies before we voyage to a new hostel opening soon in need of some employees. Who runs this place? The man himself, of course, and he chooses to hire a few people that he seems to have put under a spell of some sort. They start immediately and the guests, who are already registered, arrive. Some people gamble over a game of cards, one couple makes love in their room, and then a gang of biker hippie types arrive to party. A few others arrive but the inn is full and they're told to leave. A giant spider crawls across the floor and lightning keeps flashing outside.

    As the night progresses and the hippy bikers’ partying gets increasingly hedonistic, a new arrival is sent off to a room full of smoke with those aforementioned buxom Brazilian beauties hanging out inside and things go from weird to weirder and a lot of people die.

    Just under eight minutes of full color cinematic insanity, this movie offers nudity, hypno-wheels, gore, bubble baths, theologically questionable ranting, spiders, snakes, crabs and other creepy crawlies, buxom Brazilian beauties and swirling psychedelic optical effects so, in short, it has something for everyone. It moves at a nice pace and builds to a satisfyingly strange conclusion with Mojica the lynchpin off of which all the other strangeness in the film unfurls. It’s pretty great stuff, a really entertaining mix of surrealism, horror and straight up exploitation with some unforgettable visuals and set pieces all delivered in Mojica’s trademark style.

    Also, if you take a drink every time we get a close up of Coffin Joe's eyes, you'll be wasted pretty quickly.

    Disc Five: Hellish Flesh / Hallucinations Of A Deranged Mind

    Hellish Flesh, also known as Inferno Carnal, was released in 1977, stars Mojica as Dr. Jorge Medeiros, a highly regarded and very wealthy scientist who is married to a woman named Raquel (Luely Figueiró), who he clearly adores. Medeiros is so wrapped up in his work that he ignores his wife and, to find romantic satisfaction, she begins an affair with her husband’s best friend, Oliver (Oswaldo De Souza). Jorge, however, trusts that Raquel is intelligent and sensitive enough to understand that he has to do his work and, initially at least, remains blissfully unaware of his wife's infidelity, conducting his experiments in his basement laboratory with no idea that she's making love to Oliver in the bedroom above him.

    As their romance intensifies, Raquel and Oliver come up with a plan to murder Jorge so that they can live together comfortably after she inherits his fortune. This plan isn’t subtle, and Raquel tosses a jar of acid onto Jorge's face, brutally disfiguring him but not killing him, after which Oliver shows up and lights the lab on fire, assuming Jorge will burn to death in it. After he spends a stint recovering in the hospital, however, Jorge puts on a weird mask to cover his disfigured face and comes up with a plan of his own to exact his revenge, with some help from a guy named Rodolfo, on those who betrayed him, all while Raquel and Oliver spend as much of Jorge's money as they can!

    Possibly Mojica's best non-Coffin Joe film, Hellish Flesh is a genuinely great movie. The scenes with Mojica in the lab, surrounded by brightly colored beakers and human skulls and sporting his trademark gnarly long fingernails, are just seriously cool and the plot moves at a nice clip. Granted, certain aspects of how this plays out are a bit predictable but there's enough backstabbing, betrayals and scenes of crazed revenge going on in the second half of the film to more than make up for that, and on top of that, the ending is pretty inspired.

    The acid burn effects are done pretty well, and some very familiar looking lightning effects are used to heighten tension and atmosphere. The movie even throws in some very real eye surgery clips to up the gross out factor, which is wisely contrasted with footage of Raquel and Oliver enjoying spending Jorge's cash. There's also plenty of nudity in the movie (it turns out that Oliver is really into hookers!) with Mojica once again leaning into the film's exploitative elements in a pretty big way. There's great use of color throughout and the movie also benefits from a fantastic and eclectic score that helps to give the movie a really unique rhythm (there's a great scene just past the half way mark where some night club attendees get down to a funk-rock band all sporting weird makeup on their faces).

    Hallucinations Of A Deranged Mind, made in 1978, is definitely one of Mojica’s most unique films, despite the fact that less than half an hour of the film is new material. This was sort of a greatest hits of his earlier Coffin Joe films, and one that was intentionally blatant in its disregard for Brazilian censorship laws at the time it was made. Some of the gore scenes in this piece are longer versions than those scenes in the earlier films that they were taken from, due to the imposed cuts levied on them by the government as they were being made.

    The basic plot is that an unnamed psychiatrist in an asylum begins having strange hallucinations that Coffin Joe is going to be putting the moves on his wife, so that he produce the ultimate child (an ongoing theme in Mojica’s work). The man sees, through his mind, Coffin Joe torturing and sexually abusing people and beings to very quickly lose his grip on reality. So the Doctors in the hospital have Mojica himself show up to convince him to return to sanity. Of course, in the world of Coffin Joe, nothing goes as planned, and there are all manner of bizarre things sure to occur.

    Disc Six: Embodiment Of Evil

    The third part of a trilogy started with 1964's At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul and 1967's This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse, 2008's Embodiment Of Evil begins when notorious sadistic Brazilian undertaker Coffin Joe (Jose Mojica Marins, of course!) is released from a forty year stint behind bars. While we're told that he killed thirty men while incarcerated, for some reason the authorities decide he's fit to release even if no one really thinks he's reformed at all. Their suspicions soon prove to be correct when he returns to his old lair to sit upon a throne of skulls, aided and abetted by a couple of scantily clad women in fetish gear and a few guys happy to kill at his command.

    Those familiar with the first two entries will remember that Joe wants to find immortality by furthering his bloodline and to do that needs to find the perfect women to bare him a son. Enter a beautiful woman named Elena (Nara Sakare) who soon finds herself under the madman's spell despite the best efforts of her two aunts, a pair of witches hoping to do everything in their power to keep her away from him. Complicating things, however, are the ghosts of Joe's past victims who are appearing to him in increasingly horrifying visions and inflicting on his psyche acts similar to those he inflicted on them forty years ago. Trying to stop Joe before he slaughters even more people are a cop named Claudiomiro Pontes (Jece Valadao) and masochistic priest named Father Eugenio (Milhem Cortaz), both of whom have ties to Joe's past.

    As sadistic and nasty and gory as anything he's made before, Embodiment Of Evil puts Mojica back in the driver's seat and it's a pretty twisted ride he's taking us on. If the first two films in the trilogy portrayed Coffin Joe as a blasphemous reprobate with a penchant for misogynist violence, this latest entry somehow manages to top even those preliminary feats of atrocity, highlighted by a scene in which Joe has sex with Elena under the hanging corpses of her aunts as it quite literally rains blood down on them. Surreal at times, the film is as out there as you'd expect if you've seen his earlier works, case in point - a scene where Joe takes us out into the desert where a trio of men are crucified over a writhing orgy of sex and death, a woman tearing a man's cock off quite visible in the frame. It's not all without purpose, however. The film takes well aimed and equally well deserved pot shots at corrupt law enforcement officials and hypocritical Catholic clergy alike - and at least his antisocial leanings and blasphemy are valid.

    Visually the film is impressive, bringing the black and white flashback characters to life against the color backgrounds of the modern day footage where these nightmares plague our central character. If the site of Mojica roaming around a Brazilian slum in a cope and a top-hat with a hunchbacked assistant isn't quite as eerie as it might have been forty-five years ago, he makes up for that with piercings/suspension, murders, sexual violence, and an amazing scene in which he cuts of a slice of a woman's ass cheek and feeds it to her, before kissing her bloody maw. Very little, if any, CGI is used in the copious effects scenes and the picture is all the better for it.

    Inside The Mind Of Coffin Joe – Blu-ray Review:

    Each of the films in this collection is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition.

    -When the Gods Fall Asleep - is taken from a new 2023 4K restoration of the only existing 35mm print and is framed at 1.37.1 and presented in black and white and color.

    -The Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures - is taken from a new 2023 4K restoration from the 35mm negative and is framed at 1.37.1 and presented in black and white and color.

    -Hellish Flesh - is taken from a new 2023 4K restoration from the 35mm negative and is framed at 1.37.1 and presented in color.

    -Hallucinations Of A Deranged Mind - is taken from a new 2023 4K restoration from the 35mm negative and is framed at 1.37.1 and presented in black and white and color.

    -Embodiment Of Evil - was shot digitally and is presented framed at 1.78.1 in color.

    Once again, as far as the picture quality goes, these are pretty serious upgrades over what we’ve seen before for these movies. Contrast looks quite good and the black and white elements benefit from this. The majority of the material on these three discs is in color, however, and as it was on the first three discs, the color reproduction here is really impressive with plenty of bright reds and greens used throughout the movies really popping. Skin tones look lifelike and natural throughout each of the color movies, and there’s nice detail, depth and texture throughout. Mild print damage does appear here and there but it’s never especially distracting. Embodiment Of Evil, having been shot digitally in 2008, looks quite a bit different than the earlier films but again, color reproduction is excellent, particularly the reds which are never pumped up or oversaturated, while black levels are nice and inky deep. Shadow detail is strong throughout and skin tones generally look very lifelike and natural. There are no traces of edge enhancement or noise reduction to complain about nor are there any mpeg compression artifacts of note. Synapse's efforts are welcome, the movie looks excellent. Detail and texture are generally strong throughout though a few scenes look a bit soft, a result of the original camerawork now doubt.

    Each of the films on discs four and five in this collection gets a Portuguese language LPCM Mono option with subtitles provided in English only. Audio quality is, understandably, limited by the original elements but for the most part, each track is clean, clear and properly balanced. There’s a fair amount of depth given to the music in each film and while occasionally things can sound a tad thin, those familiar with these films will realize that they aren’t likely to sound any better than they do here. And that’s fine. These movies don’t need fancy 5.1 remixes or anything like that, the original mono tracks suit them just fine. The subtitles are easy to read and free of any obvious typographical errors.

    As to the audio on Embodiment Of Evil, two audio tracks are supplied - a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix and an LPCM 2.0 Stereo track, both in Portuguese with optional English subtitles. The 5.1 track edges out the 2.0 offering as it spreads out the score and effects a bit more and as such has a bit more ambiance to it. Levels are well balanced on both tracks and everything comes through cleanly and clearly without any hiss or distortion. Dialogue, particularly Coffin Joe's rants, has good punch to it and the score sounds nice and full.

    Extras are spread discs four, five and six discs in this collection as follows.

    Disc Four: When The Gods Fall Asleep / The Strange Hostel Of Naked Pleasures

    The Demonic Surrealism Of Coffin Joe is a new twenty-six minute interview with scholar and filmmaker Virginie Sélavy that discusses the similarities that exist between Mojica’s work and that of the European and South American surrealist film movements. She speaks about specific correlations that exist between Mojica’ss work and that of Bunuel and Cocteau, the different themes that they explore, the use of dreams and the rejection of social and moral conventions, if Mojica would have been able to see any French or Spanish surrealist films before making his own pictures, the use of body parts and depictions of Hell in Mojica’ss work, the interest in psychology and psychoanalysis in both arenas and the contradictions that exist in Mojica’s work and that of the surrealists.

    Delirium, Surrealism And Vision is a new interview with author Jack Sargeant, the author of Deathtripping, that runs just under fourteen minutes. In this piece, Sargeant talks about Mojica’s filmography and the speeches that the Coffin Joe character delivers throughout the series and their anti-philosophical slants, the director's tendency to break the fourth wall, the visceral nature of violence in his movies, the influence of Un Chien Andalou, the use of surrealism in his work and how it ties into the cannibalism in his movies and the use of psychedelic imagery.

    Apostle Of Evil is a new interview with Dennison Ramalho (co-writer of Embodiment Of Evil) about his early connection to Coffin Joe running eleven minutes. He talks about how Mojica was a friend and mentor, childhood memories of his television show, seeing his films for the first time, Mojica’s place in the history of Brazilian cinema, meeting him for the first time in 1995, what he was like in person and how they came to collaborate.

    Mojica In The Snow: Tonight I Incarnate At Sundance! is fifteen minutes of Mojica attending the Sundance Film Festival in 2001 where he talks about travelling from Brazil and his thoughts on the festival. We also see him visit the local cemetery in the snow, interact with different fans and moviegoers and hang out with Michael Stipe from REM!

    A Blind Date For Coffin Joe, a short film by Raymond “Coffin Ray” Castile (who played the young version of the character in Embodiment Of Evil), is a comedic ten minute piece where Castile plays the Coffin Joe character as he makes a video for a dating site. One woman is interviewed and meets Coffin Joe in this piece, only to be understandably freaked out by him and, well, it doesn't end so well.

    A theatrical trailer for The Strange Hostel Of Naked Pleasures, menus and chapter selection options finish up the extras on disc four.

    Disc Five: Hellish Flesh / Hallucinations Of A Deranged Mind

    An archival audio commentary for Hallucinations Of A Deranged Mind with Mojica, editor Nilcemar Leyart, Paulo Duarte and Carlos Primati starts off the extras on disc five. This track covers how the movie was made using scenes that the censors made him remove from earlier projects with new footage added in to create a new cohesive narrative, which projects some of the footage originated from, how the movie represents his real-life frustrations over some of the issues he dealt with in terms of persecution from the church and the censors, how liberating it was to make the movie, putting the project together very quickly, differences between himself and his Coffin Joe character, winning an award at a festival for the first time, reception to the film in the media, lenses that were used for specific scenes and why they were chosen, the significance of Coffin Joe's cape, how this movie is the first time that Coffin Joe doesn't meet a tragic end in one of his movies, what went into editing the picture using an old school Movieola and the parodic aspects of the production.

    Aesthetics Of Garbage: José Mojica Mojica, a Complicated Icon is a new interview with filmmaker Andrew Leavold (the man behind The Search For Weng Weng) that looks at Mojica’s place in the 'Marginal Cinema' movements of the 60's and 70's. It's a thirty-one minute featurette that allows Leavold, on costume, to discuss how the first two movies are the most coherent and accessible films in the collection, how they compare to his later more experimental and surrealist efforts, the different mediums and genres that he worked on, the obscurity of much of his filmography, his own personal mission to see as many of Mojica’s movies as possible with or without subtitles, how his output reflects the changes in Brazilian pop culture and social mores, the garish elements of his work, his place in the Brazilian 'Cinema Nuevo' movement, the social and political commentary in Mojica’s work, his shift to digital filmmaking in the final days of his career and how he truly dedicated his life to cinema.

    Beyond Good And Evil is a new video essay by film critic Kat Ellinger that explores how Mojica’s work toys with many of the same ideas and concepts as Nietzsche’s philosophies. This sixteen minute piece discusses whether or not Mojica’s films are gothic or not, the angry and transgressive elements of his output, the world view that Mojica puts out into his pictures, how his output compares to Hammer Films from the same era, comparisons to films that came out of the 'Panic Movement,' the autodidactic elements of Mojica’s background, the idea of the ubermensch in Mojica’s work, the theme of 'the will to power' as portrayed in Mojica’s work and the directors tendency to eschew the typical gothic horror traits of good versus evil.

    Theatrical trailers for both features are also included on the disc, are menus and chapter selection options.

    Disc Six: Embodiment Of Evil

    Extras on the last disc in the set includes an archival audio commentary with producer Paulo Sacramento and co-screenwriter Dennison Ramalho. They talk about what the goals were with this film, what it was like to collaborate with Mojica, setting the tone of the movie right out of the gate with the prologue, casting the movie and what the different performers brought to the production, the sets and specific set decoration, incorporating footage from the first two Coffin Joe movies into this film, challenges that arose on set, the evolution of the Coffin Joe character, filming the piercing and suspension scene, having to sew an actress into a pig's carcass, creating some of the effect set pieces, working elements of religion into the film and how the finale is a literal declaration of principles.

    Apprenticeship Of Evil is an archival interview from 2020 in which Ramalho speaks to Fantasia Fest's Mitch Davis about José Mojica Marins and looks back on their friendship and collaborations. Captured via video conferencing software during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, it allows Ramalho to talk about how he first discovered Mojica’s work, how he met him for the first time, the friendship that developed from this meeting, getting Mojica’s feedback on his own films and changing things because of that, anecdotes about some of the time that they spent together, the horrifying aspects of American driver's ed films, how Marin's home was essentially a museum of his work, some of the projects that Mojica was affiliated with in the later years of his life and more. There's also footage and photos from his Mojica’s funeral here which is interesting and decidedly strange to see.

    Learning From The Master is a new interview with screenwriter Dennison Ramalho that runs thirty-eight minutes and covers how he and Paulo Sacramento started working on Embodiment Of Evil in 2001, what went into the pre-production aspect of the movie, getting Mojica on board and collaborating with him, making a direct sequel to the first two Coffin Joe films decades after they were made, meta aspects of the movie, the themes that the movie explores, the excitement that was generating around Coffin Joe's comeback, casting the movie, premiering the film at the Fantasia Festival in 2008 and getting it shown at Sitges as well, how the movie was received and how Mojica wanted his funeral to be a party with a mariachi band, a last wish that was granted after he passed away.

    The Making Of Embodiment Of Evil runs thirty-two minutes and includes some interesting behind the scenes clips and interviews with most of the cast and crew. Oddly enough, Mojica himself isn't featured as prominently as you might hope he would be, but we get enough input from his supporting players to appreciate what all involved were going for here (and he does pop up here and there in the documentary).

    The thirteen minute Experimental Making Of featurette is a collection of behind the scenes footage that's been heavily filtered to look like old film stock showing Mojica getting into character and other aspects from the shoot presented with strange, abstract audio playing overtop of it.

    Up next is a featurette which is a fourteen minute collection of footage from the film's premiere at Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival in which Mojica himself emerged out of a coffin, surrounded by scantily clad goth chicks, to speak to an enthusiastic crowd before a screening of the film.

    The disc also contains twelve minutes of deleted scenes with commentary by Mojica and Sacramento that gives the scenes some context and also explains why the material wasn't used in the final version of the movie.

    Visual Effects: Purgatory is a two minute archival featurette with commentary by director José Mojica Marins and Sacramento that discusses how some of the digital effects featured in the movie were created and why they were used.

    Storyboards is a two minute an archival featurette with commentary by Mojica and Sacramento that talks about the director's tendency to note use storyboards on most of his previous films but why it was done for Embodiment Of Evil, with some of the storyboard art shown off during the talk.

    A theatrical trailer for the feature finishes up the extras on this last disc.

    Note that as Arrow hasn’t sent finished product for review, this review is based off of test discs. As such, we can’t comment on packaging, inserts, books or anything else that might be included alongside the six discs in this set. If they send us finished product, we’ll be happy to update, until then you have to use your imagination.

    Inside The Mind Of Coffin Joe - The Final Word:

    The second half of Arrow Video’ Blu-ray release of Inside The Mind Of Coffin Joe is just as strong as the first, offering up some lesser scene entries in the man’s filmography in very strong presentations with great extra features that really do a nice job of peeling back the of Mojica’s work and documenting the history and importance of these movies. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Inside The Mind Of Coffin Joe Blu-ray screen caps!

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