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By Mark Fulton | June 25, 2009

Coffin Joe is back!

With origins dating to the mid-60s, this Brazilian cult horror icon (Jose Mojica Marins, who also directed this film and the official feature series) has blazed a blood trail of delicious cinematic evil and mayhem. Ironically, he inspires warm fuzzy feelings in many like a favorite uncle. Coffin Joe has appeared in seven features, a television series, and a handful of smaller works. The only other film of his I’ve seen is the first feature, the gloriously titled “At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul,” from 1964.

In this 21st century tale, Coffin Joe has been locked in the bowels of an asylum for the criminally insane for 40 years. He permanently dons a black cape, black clothes, a satanic medallion, and fingernails that are literally six inches long. Marins actually has his nails like this in real life — no kidding. Coffin Joe is released and immediately four young disciples vow complete servitude.

Coffin Joe’s life ambition is the creation of the perfect blood line of descendents. Previous prospective mothers have been mutilated and/or murdered. The minions round up possible females in cages. They’re subjected to tests of assorted tortures. Two police captains hunt the fugitive and an obsessed priest, whose father was murdered by Coffin Joe, wants to cast him to Hell’s lowest depths.

For pure imagination and cool concepts, without a zillion dollar budget, this film contains multiple scenes with the best use of digital effects I’ve seen recently. There are several visions where Coffin Joe is haunted by ghosts from the past. Black and white footage from old Coffin Joe movies is taken and composited into present-day color scenes. In one memorable scene, rats scatter from the guts of a talking corpse (black and white) while Coffin Joe stares horrified (color). This transcends being a cool gimmick, since emotionally his memories would be like this and it imbues a genuine sense of history. Half-way through the film, an impressive sequence invokes Hell/Purgatory using Jodorowsky-like color schemes via digital grading. It’s both cutting edge and classical like an old painting. But digital effects aside, Marins is an impressive director. He is justly revered in Brazil.

Wake up, gorehounds. There is a bountiful feast here. A scalping. Multiples skinnings. Sex in a shower of blood. Literal lakes of blood. Nails driven through hands. A guy hung by his skin (eeeeek). Lips being sewn shut. Much, much more. Plus one of the most perversely inventive deaths I’ve seen. It involves a new use for cheese.

Did I mention there are naked women everywhere?

Jose Mojica Marins is 73. I hope I have as much ghoulish fun at that age. By the way, I searched and could not find a review of this flick by Joe Bob Briggs. If there’s a recent movie that begs to be reviewed by him, this is it. Oh, well.

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