Unfortunately, as talented as Jose Mojica Marins was capable of being, his cinematic career dried up in the late 1980’s. When his horror films never gained traction, he was forced to make pornographic films just to earn money so he can continue making the films he actually wanted to make. Jose Mojica Marins ended his career after 1987, the last three films he made in that year were Demons And Wonders, Dr. Frank In The Clinic Of The Taras, and 48 Hours Of Hallucinatory Sex.
However, as stated earlier, Mojica’s films would gain traction in American during the decades to come; prompting people to make documentaries about his crazy life and career, finally turning his staple character of Coffin Joe into a household name. This prompted Mojica to make one final movie in 2008: Embodiment Of Evil, a swansong for Mojica’s entire career and a final farewell to the character of Coffin Joe.
This first question to ponder is how Mojica would approach his character after a 40 year long hiatus, during which there has been a lot of change in the world of cinema. Would it feel like he would just be appealing to his own cinematic nostalgia of the 1960s, thus making Embodiment Of Evil feel like a retread of outdated cinema? Or would he take a completely new, contemporary approach, which would the movie feel like it doesn’t belong in the same continuity as At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul or This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse?
However, I feel that Mojica made the right decision regarding Embodiment Of Evil: he takes a contemporary approach to the film in terms of the cinematography, the special effects and the settings; but the characters, the story, the flow and the writing are all reminiscent of his classic style. Instead of going for a completely new approach, he brought his old character of Coffin Joe into the 21st century, whilst maintaining the identifiable traits that truly make the character of Coffin Joe who he is. The result feeling like something new whilst feeling entirely nostalgic, like Mojica never left the film industry at all. Embodiment Of Evil is truly the culmination of everything that Mojica had learned during his years as an exploitation film-maker.
However, I believe Mojica knew everything had to be multiplied to make his movie stand out after a 40 year long hiatus, and thus Embodiment Of Evil is Mojica’s sleaziest, nastiest and most graphic horror movie he has ever made. Alongside side attractions such as copious amounts of BDSM violence, sex, and nudity from glamorous actresses; the gloriously disturbing practical effects take the main stage, some of which I believe use actual body-modification artists to produce real scenes of skin-sewing and flesh-suspension to create a circus of horrors unlike anything else seen in the early 21st Century. Mojica went all out on this film, and it truly shows, and I congratulate him for it.
Mojica himself gives a gripping performance as an older, but just as demented, Coffin Joe. Despite the 40 years that have passed, Mojica’s Coffin Joe is just as enjoyable to watch now as he ever was in the 1960’s. Nothing has really changed about his character, but nothing actually needed to change. If Mojica had changed the character – such as changing Coffin Joe’s needs, or his entire character arc – then the character would not have felt like Coffin Joe anymore. It feels like Mojica knew what was needed for this film to work and he pulled it off with gusto.
I recommend Embodiment Of Evil to any and all fans of horror movies in the 21st century, because it is a breath of fresh air when compared to contemporary flops such as Friday The 13th (2009) , Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) and Evil Dead (2013) which also try to capture the feelings of classic cinema, but completely miss what made the films lovable in the first place. By sacrificing what made the films identifiable and replacing it with contemporary techniques and generic story-telling, the film-makers create a sense of cinematic disarray and the feeling of brand confusion, damning the film to the bargain bin. I feel that these contemporary film-makers need to learn from Mojica, as Embodiment Of Evil is a perfect example of what those other sub-standard films needed to do in order to be remembered in the horror/exploitation community: by taking what was old, keeping the identifiable, and amplifying everything that made the series enjoyable in the first place, thus making it feel new, exciting, but nostalgic the at same time.