Back in Brazil
|The new Coffin Joe film, Encarnação do Demônio (THE
EMBODIMENT OF EVIL) opened in Brazilian theaters Aug. 8, 2008.
I had the privilege of attending the official premiere Aug. 5 in São Paulo. It was my first time attending a “real” movie premiere. I tried to keep my expectations realistic so I would not be disappointed.
Well, there was no need for that!
It turned out to be one wild, dizzying, incredible experience. Before I describe it, let me recap for new readers.
I have a small part in the film. I play “Young Coffin Joe” in a flashback linking EMBODIMENT with THIS NIGHT I WILL POSSESS YOUR CORPSE (1967), the second film in the “Coffin Joe Trilogy.”
At the climax of THIS NIGHT, angry villagers chase Coffin Joe into a swamp. As he sinks beneath the water, the atheistic antihero undergoes a bizarre religious conversion. Coffin Joe begs a priest to give him a crucifix, the “symbol of the Son.” Then he drowns…or so it seems…
José Mojica Marins, the creator/director/star of the Coffin Joe series, originally wanted Coffin Joe to go down cursing God. But Brazil was under a dictatorship at the time, and government censors demanded that Mojica change the ending. They wanted Coffin Joe to find God. Otherwise, they would not allow the film’s release. Faced with no options, Mojica grudgingly changed the ending.
He has regretted it ever since.
Mojica spent the next 40 years trying to complete the Coffin Joe trilogy. Time and again, he came close to assembling the financing and personnel, only to see the project fall apart. It was as if he and his character were cursed.
THE EMBODIMENT OF EVIL breaks the curse.
In 2000, Mojica joined forces with producer Paulo Sacramento and screenwriter Dennison Ramalho to bring EMBODIMENT to the screen. By 2006, they had the financing in place (thanks in large part to a grant from Brazil’s Ministry of Culture). Cameras were finally ready to roll on the third chapter of the Coffin Joe trilogy.
This was where I came in.
Mojica cast me to play “Young Coffin Joe” in a flashback scene showing how the character survived his apparent drowning in the previous film. In EMBODIMENT, Coffin Joe rises from the swamp, grabs the crucifix and uses it to stab the priest to death! Then he attacks a police officer and gouges his eye!
That’s the Coffin Joe we know and love.
EMBODIMENT then continues in the present day, with the blinded cop now a bitter police captain out to get Coffin Joe.
If you haven’t already, check out the rest of the “Diary do Demonio” site. You can find out how Mojica discovered me, and read a day-by-day account of my experience on the set.
We shot the flashback scene in November 2006 in São Paulo. During the next 20 months, I followed the film’s progress and eagerly awaited its release. Of course, I hoped I would get invited to the premiere. But I never counted on it. Because I live in Missouri, I figured they would assume it would be impractical for me to come.
The Aug. 8 release date drew near. Still no word on the premiere. I had pretty much resigned myself to the idea that I was not going to be invited. I would just have to be satisfied reading about the event online.
Then I received an e-mail from Dennison Ramalho, inviting me to the premiere!
Dennison had been my main contact throughout my “Coffin Ray adventure,” as he called it. Dennison is a fantastic guy, full of talent and charisma, but also very humble and down-to-earth.
I think he had his doubts about whether I would be able to make the trip. I had my doubts, too! Money was tight and the ticket was expensive. But this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of film history, to join Mojica and the crew in their moment of triumph. I had to do it!
I arrived Aug. 3 in São Paulo. It felt very strange to be back after nearly two years. But there I was, journeying once again into the strange world of Coffin Joe!