After four decades spent incarcerated for murder, rape and general blasphemy, talon-nailed Coffin Joe (Jose Mojica Marins) is unleashed into Modern-day Brazil. He picks up where he left off: searching for a woman to sire him a son.

With the aid of hunchbacked assistant Bruno (Rui Resende), Joe sets about terrorising the local beauties. In the meantime, a demented priest and a violent police colonel harbour plans to bring Joe's reign of terror to a permanent end.

But will they get to him before the ghosts of Joe's former conquests do?

Nuttier than the contents of a well-fed squirrel's stomach, Marins is a true larger-than-life genre legend. His legacy includes some of the craziest genre films of the 1960s and 1970s and, in more poverty-stricken later times, directing hardcore pornography of a particularly demented variant.

But he's most fondly remembered for his two establishing Coffin Joe films: AT MIDNIGHT I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL (1964) and THIS NIGHT I'LL POSSESS YOUR CORPSE (1967). These were masterpieces of madcap comic book-style horror excesses that remain strong stuff to this day.

The fear for many was that this belated completion to an open-ended trilogy would prove to be a disappointment along the lines of Dario Argento's THE MOTHER OF TEARS (2007). But Marins has bounced back with more energy and a more mischievous sense of the absurd than ever before.

The film has fascinating themes. Joe's perception of Brazil, having been removed from society for 40 years, offers astute counter culture observations and even presents the villain as an alien worthy of small sympathy; social commentary surfaces in the form of nods towards the country's notoriously corrupt police force and the very pressing issue of homelessness (and the brutal solution to it); the attacks against organised religion that distinguished the first two films are expanded upon here: the Church is portrayed as being battier even than Joe.

If none of that interests you, Marins is savvy enough to deliver on more base levels too. Kapel Furman's FX are superb, the gory violence is frequent and the coloured hues create a surreal explosion of vividness rarely seen in the genre since the heyday of Mario Bava.

A more comprehensive synopsis and review of the film itself can be found elsewhere on the site, harking from when Anchor Bay released it onto blu-ray and DVD in 2009.

For now though, Synapse have finally given the film a domestic release in America. And their blu-ray/DVD combo pack - under review here - is excellent.

On the blu-ray, the film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is enhanced for 16x9 television sets. Boasting a brand new transfer struck from the original 35mm negative, EMBODIMENT OF EVIL has never looked better. The 1080p visuals are awesome - colours pop off the screen, images are amazingly sharp and clean, while a true filmic quality is retained throughout.

If you own the Anchor Bay blu-ray and are pleased with that (I was, until I saw this), Synapse has done a sterling job of improving the film's look and feel in every way. As far as gore films on blu-ray go, this is reference quality stuff.

Audio-wise, the original Portuguese track is presented in 2.0 and 5.1 HD options. Both, the latter particularly, are brilliant too. Well-balanced and consistent throughout, the onscreen action is complemented perfectly by these rousing mixes. Optional English subtitles are well-written and easily readable.

An attractive animated main menu page leads into pop-up menus which in turn give access to some worthy extras.

First up is the same candid Making Of featurette that featured on the Anchor Bay disc. Running at a half-hour in length, it offers a good insight into the mad Marins at work.

A 14-minute featurette containing footage from the film's premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival is a nice addition, opening with fast-forwarded festival footage before settling into more interesting clips of the great man.

A theatrical trailer rounds off the extras, all of which are presented in Portuguese with English subtitles.

The DVD contains the film and same extras, with a nice 16x9 transfer on the main feature and 2.0 and 5.1 audio options. Again, subtitles are provided in English.

It's pleasing to note that both the blu-ray and DVD are region free.

Despite almost identical packaging (even going so far as to use the same photographs on the back cover), Synapse's release trumps Anchor Bay's blu-ray in every way. The film looks simply stunning, and the lack of regional coding makes this a viable - and recommended - upgrade for all.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Synapse
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review