The Strange Oeuvre of Coffin Joe, Part 3

Sadly, we lost Jose Mojica Marins in 2020.  But a silver lining is that there's more to his story on home video, even English-friendly home video, since the previous entries in my 'Strange Oeuvre of Coffin Joe' series.  A brand new release!  A recent discovery of an actually older, rare Brazillian disc!  And even an autobiographical documentary thought to be previously unavailable in English.  If you're ready to descend even deeper into the bizarre world of Coffin Joe, the releases are out there.
So let's start with The Black Fables.  It's a 2015 anthology horror film by writer/ director/ producer/ effects artist Rodrigo Aragao.  But he's pulled in different Brazillian filmmakers to direct each segment.  He directs the wrap-around and one segment himself, but then the other guys are Joel Caetano, Petter Baiestorf, Marcelo Castanheira and - I hope you guys are ahead of me on this reveal - Coffin Joe himself, Jose Mojica Marins!  The film maintains a very consistent tone: fast paced, colorful, and very gory with a strong emphasis on the practical special effects.  It's not exactly Shakespeare, but it's a low budget crowd pleaser that takes from Brazillian folklore.
A group of kids are playing in the forest and telling each other scary stories: a very on-the-nose allegory about a corrupt mayor who craps all over his people, until one turns into a zombie and gets payback, a period piece about a mysterious werewolf lurking around a plantation, a ghost who haunts a girls' school bathroom... And yes, at almost 80 years old, Marins wrote, directed and acted (though not as Coffin Joe) in his tale of a Saci out for revenge after a young woman and her obnoxious boyfriend disrespect an elder of the forest.  It only has one leg, so it hops around, and generally it looks a lot more like a rubber puppet than the creatures in any of the other segments, though maybe that's intentionally playing into the trickster's lighter side.  But that's an awfully generous reading.  Either way, it's fun.
Dark Swamp
The Black Fables was just released at the end of 2022 by Darkside Releasing on a double-feature BDR, paired with Dark Swamp (a.k.a. Mud Zombies), a 2008 horror flick also by Aragao.  In fact, Darkside has been releasing a bunch of his films on their label if you're interested: The Black Forest, and another double feature of Dark Sea (a.k.a. Bloodbath) and Night Of the Chupacabras.  But this is the only Marins they've got.  It is very in keeping with The Black Fables in a lot of ways (and all his other films, probably): gross but not too serious gore and creature effects, all physical, making use of great natural locations to make up for a tiny budget.  It's not something I'd buy on disc on its own, and definitely not as good as Fables; but taken as a free bonus flick, it's pretty neat.
2022 Darkside Releasing BDR.
Both features are presented in 1.78:1.  One thing you'll notice in the shot of Marins performing his exorcism is that Fables, despite being shot on digital, intermittently uses a fake film scratch effect, often as a transition between segments, but randomly at other times as well.  It doesn't make sense thematically - it's not like the characters are meant to be recalling an old film or something, and I guess it's being used to hide the digital look of the movie.  But anyway, it's not a fault of the disc, it's part of the movie.  And it's a little less certain, but you can probably say the same about a few scenes where the film displays banding or other weaknesses.  Although two features on a BDR-25 is probably squeezing a little tight.  One thing you can definitely hold against Darkside, though, is that the stereo Dolby Digital audio is lossy for both features.  But I can't say I came into this with top shelf expectations, so I'm not disappointed.
It helps that, while there aren't a lot of special features, it's not completely bereft.  First of all, it has to be said, that the closing credits of The Black Fables itself includes a compact but very informative behind-the-scenes documentary with behind the scenes footage and interviews with all the filmmakers.  This is great.  Then separately on the disc is a (very) quick behind the scenes look at the werewolf effects from one of the other Black Fables segments, trailers for both films, and a "mashup" trailer for the rest of their catalog.  It's minimal, but I appreciate that Darkside at least took an interest in adding a little extra value to their release.
Next up is a 2001 DVD-R from Fallm in Brazil of a 1997 film called Contos de Horror, or Coffin Joe Tales.  Apparently it was created as a pilot for an anthology horror series, like Tales From the Crypt but hosted by Coffin Joe instead of the Crypt Keeper.  But when it didn't get picked up, they decided to release it as a movie.  And it's... interesting.  It looks to be shot on video and made on the super cheap.  It's also not written or directed by Marins.  But he does appear sporadically in full CJ regalia to host the story, and then also shows up later on as another minor character within the story.  So Marins aficionados shouldn't feel too short changed.
This (again, the only) episode is called A Filha do Pavor, which google translates to The Daughter of Dread.  It's the story of a Satanist who was raped and murdered getting reincarnated as a housemaid and seeking revenge on the men who wronged her, or whoever else crosses her path.  And it just so happens one of the home owners is reading all about that same girl in a book he's got, written by none other than Jose Mojica Marins!  This one leans a little more into sex and nudity than horror and blood.  There's no gore; the special effects consist of little more than the occasional colored light.  A lot of the acting feels pretty amateur as well.  But it's a decent little tale, and Coffin Joe can always be counted on to spice things up. 
2001 Fallm DVD-R.
The film is presented at 1.31:1, but as it was made for TV in the 90s, it's probably meant to be fullscreen.  Even the interlacing, which is bad - every frame is heavily combed - is probably native to the original footage.  So there's not a lot to criticize here; but it sure ain't pretty.  At least the colors are bright?

Fallm's disc is a pretty cheap release in every other respect, too.  The back cover promises an animated menu and photo gallery, but we don't even get those.  The disc doesn't even have a label.  But we do get the film with optional English (or French) subtitles, which is all that's important.
Still, it's nice to jump to a properly pressed disc for our last feature.  You may remember me writing that Cinemagia's DVD of End of Man featured a number of untranslated extras including, "a 50 minute 'autobiography' film by Marins."  Could you guess that film was today's 1987 entry Demons and Wonders, presented in 2013 with complete English (as well as French, Portuguese and Spanish) subtitles by Focus Filmes (the same label that put out The Lost Daughter) in Spain?  It's an autobiographical documentary, meaning it's a documentary about Marins by Marins.  So it's fairly self-promotional, but it's also super entertaining and chock full of stolen music.  It's also mostly done in recreation, where he re-stages the important moments in his life: losing his father, getting arrested, having a heart attack and even going to Heaven; we see it all.  So it's nothing like the documentaries on the Anchor Bay or Mondo Macabro DVDs.  It's not like any documentary, or anything you've ever seen before.  It may actually be one of his greatest achievements.

The disc's a part of a big Coffin Joe boxed set (even available in a coffin-shaped case), which basically includes all the same stuff we've seen in previously covered sets: At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul, Awakening Of the Beast, etc.  But their one exclusive is that they gave Demons and Wonders its own disc, translating it into English for the first and only time.  The English is fairly broken, but that just adds to the wildness.  And luckily, its DVD is also available separately.
2012 Cinemagia DVD top; 2013 Focus DVD bottom.
Besides being English friendly for the first time, it's also a markedly superior transfer.  Unfortunately, both are interlaced.  But the framing has been adjusted from a fullscreen 1.31:1 to an anamorphic and pillar-boxed 1.69:1.  This mattes some vertical information, but also reveals more on the sides.  And just comparing the images throughout, it's obvious the Focus framing is the right one.  Or at least, the righter of the two.  The colors have also been corrected, looking less faded and much more natural.  All in all, a happy surprise.

Focus's DVD also includes a bunch of intriguing extras, but like the Cinemagia set, nothing's English-friendly except the main feature.  So what we get, unhelpfully untranslated, is an interview with Marins about this doc, a special message from Marins to his fans, some kind of audio-only Coffin Joe production (maybe from one of his records?), two photo galleries, and Coffin Joe's Top Hat, a feature-length collection of Coffin Joe odds and ends.  It's a totally random assembly of stuff, like the complete footage of his eye surgery, television interviews, music videos he's in or directed... Again, none of it's English-friendly, but you might want to skip around through this a bit anyway.
Finally, I should also throw in the fact that there is an English-friendly DVD of a Brazillian zombie movie from 2008 called A Capital dos Mortos.  It even has some extras.  Marins did not write, direct or have anything to do with this film apart from a brief - literally, under ten seconds - cameo around the 41 minute mark where he appears as a head in the clouds for a quick gag.  It's a light-hearted, ambitious little film (they made a sequel in 2015), but Marins is only in there for a virtual flash.  Still, if you're a die-hard collector who simply must have everything, you may feel you need that, too.  So I'm letting you know.

Even if you're just a normal Coffin Joe fan, though (or as normal as one can be), you'll probably want these other three discs.  I was delighted to discover each of them.  And hopefully there will be still more in the future (Update/ Spoiler: there have been...!).


  1. Do you know of an online retailer for Brazilian DVDs?

    1. Well, there's an Amazon Brazil now (, but for Coffin Joe Tales, I had to go to Shopee (

  2. Good news: there's new discs coming in the future. Arrow Video's putting out a comprehensive box set in November. Unfortunately, a lot of the extras are new, so it looks like the fans will have to take it upon themselves to translate the Cinemagia outliers.