Plot: What’s it about?
I have to be honest, I tried to write a normal synopsis for Awakening of the Beast and I just couldn’t manage to do so. I’ve seen a lot of films with nonlinear storylines, but this movie has such a strange makeup, it was very hard to summarize without giving too much away. The main focus of the picture is what drugs can do to the human mind, which is explored via a series of vignettes that show various drug experiences. You have the usual hippies, a dirty old man and his young starlet, and of course, the maniacal Coffin Joe (Jose Mojica Marins). Yes, Coffin Joe is present and he spews forth his irony laced beliefs and what not, all in much less evil ways than I had expected. Joe is helping a scientist, who has used these drug users as test subjects on a television show, to advance his theories on how drugs effect the human brain. A lot of cool visuals, interesting antics, and of course Coffin Joe madness all follow, with terrific results. When the case claims that this film is the closest thing to a real acid trip put onto film…believe those words.
As if the first two films with Coffin Joe weren’t offbeat enough, this third installment ups the stakes and then some. I was surprised with how much different this film was from the others, even Coffin Joe seems like a different chap in Awakening of the Beast. He is less supernatural here it seems, focused more on his theories on various subjects, although you can tell he’s the same old Joe underneath it all. So while this does have a different feel than the first two flicks, it stays within the same realm and fits into the series, so it doesn’t stand out too much. In case you couldn’t tell from above, this movie deals with drug use and what it does to the human mind, in the form of short stories within a larger picture. A very unusual, but visually charged motion picture, Awakening of the Beast will be like nothing you’ve seen before, that is for sure. I liked the other two Coffin Joe movies more, but in truth, this is more like a film with Coffin Joe in it, as opposed to a true Coffin Joe flick. Even so, fans of the series will most likely want to seek this one out and since Fantoma has released all three on DVD, I think the entire trilogy is well worth a look.
Video: How does it look?
Awakening of the Beast is presented in a 1.66:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. This transfer looks good, but of course, time has taken a toll on the source materials. The print is clean at times, but often shows flecks and debris, sometimes much worse than others. But I was never distracted by these issues and since it is expected to an extent, I won’t lower the score much. The contrast is dead on and shows no problems, as detail is strong and black levels appear to be well balanced. When color is used, the hues come across well and with minimal flaws also. This image is not up to the usual standards, but when you consider the age and history of the film, I think this is a more than adequate visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
The same holds true for the audio, as some age related defects are present at times, but it all seems to work out well enough in the end. I was able to detect some harshness and hiss here & there, but not enough to lessen the experience much, given the circumstances. The vocals are presented in the original Portuguese language and of course, optional English subtitles have been included. The dialogue comes across in clean, rich form and I have no real complaints, aside from a shade of thinness at times. The music and sound effects also seem in decent enough form, though you wouldn’t want to use this as a demo disc, by any means.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes an eight minute interview with Jose Mojica Marins, a reproduction Coffin Joe comic book, and theatrical trailers for all three Coffin Joe flicks.