The Strange World Of Coffin Joe (1968)

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The Strange World Of Coffin Joe was created one year after This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse and, despite it’s title, the plot has barely anything to do with the character of Coffin Joe. Coffin Joe may give a small introduction, but The Strange World Of Coffin Joe is an anthology film, like Creepshow, made out of 3 short films: The Dollmaker, Obsession and Theory. Sadly, unlike other, better, anthology films, the 4 films of The Strange World Of Coffin Joe share no over-arching storyline or link of any kind, apart from the fact that Jose Mojica Marins made all three films.

The Dollmaker is the first film, and the only film that I feel has an actual plot. It’s a reasonably entertaining, yet utterly predictable, story about an old doll-maker and his 4 daughters. It has very simple premise that is easy to follow and feels like a ‘typical’ short film. By ‘typical’, I mean that The Dollmaker doesn’t offer anything big or outstanding to an audience. The film is a generic middle-of-the-road short film that’s just entertaining enough to not be an utter bore, and due to the film’s short length, it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. A ‘vanilla’ film, but not too bad to start off with.

Obsession is an interesting cinematic experiment. The film contains no dialogue and tells the story of a balloon seller’s obsession with a pretty woman. This story does contain a few twists and turns, but it suffers from one major flaw: it’s boring. The film takes a very slow approach to story-telling, but without the addition anything of substance happening onscreen, the film meanders on for too long before it provides any sort of interesting moment, and sadly, the ‘interesting moment’ itself is underwhelming, and doesn’t feel worth the build-up. A cinematic experiment, but a failed experiment that really isn’t worth remembering.

The third and final film, Theory, stars Jose Mojica Marins as a ‘not Coffin Joe’ character, yet the character shares Coffin Joe’s trademark sadistic nihilism and philosophical nonsense. The spectacle of Theory is the film’s utter brutality: the film shows sequences of torture and cannibalism that are quite sickening to watch. The special effects are incredibly cheap and nasty, making the film feel even more gross and disturbing. I myself have a theory that 1974’s Bloodsucking Freaks took a lot of inspiration from Jose Mojica Marins’ Theory because the films share a lot of similarities: the characters are similar and the spectacle of violence is almost identical. However, alongside the gore comes a major issue, without anything of cinematic substance to enhance the impact of the onscreen violence, the brutality gets quite boring after a while. If there’s nothing to back up the gore, desensitization quickly kicks in and the film isn’t entertaining anymore. Theory felt like the worst of the three films because an abundance of violence isn’t as entertaining as it sounds, no matter how psychopathic the viewer.

I had a really hard time getting through The Strange World Of Coffin Joe, mainly because it was just so boring and underwhelming. Many times throughout the film I wanted to turn it off, but I had to be determined to be able to get through it. The Strange World Of Coffin Joe really isn’t worth watching. Jose Mojica Marins can, and has done, better, so let The Strange World Of Coffin Joe be forgotten in exploitation history, and I’ll let it stay in the Vault where it belongs.

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