Put yourself in the shoes of Japanese late night-talk show host Nami: You receive a mysterious VHS in the mail. When you pop it in and press PLAY, you are shocked to see what appears to be a genuine snuff film; Before your eyes in living video color, a helpless woman is brutally tortured and murdered. Now, what would you do if confronted with the possibility of a snuff videographer sending you mementoes in the mail? Would you (A): Immediately alert the police? Or (B): Gather a group of your TV station coworkers to trace the source of the tape, regardless of the obvious possibility of danger? Well, luckily for us, Nami chose option B, and “Evil Dead Trap” (1988) is a roller-coaster nightmare ride!
I know, some of you out there may be thinking “Oh, another 80’s slasher movie. Even worse, it’s trying to cash in on people mistakenly associating it with the “Evil Dead” franchise. NOT INTERESTED.” But trust me- there is so much more in play here. It’s NOT JUST a slasher movie. And it does not, in ANY way, resemble the “Evil Dead” franchise in terms of characters or content.
Admittedly, like “The Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead Trap” IS extremely stylized, with many crazy camera POV’s and clever use of angles, and rapid-fire editing. And, like “The Evil Dead,” “EVIL DEAD TRAP” offers shock after bloody shock, surprise after jaw-dropping surprise. But it feels nothing at all like “The Evil Dead.” In “The Evil Dead,” we understand that demons are on the loose, hence the crazy demonic possessions, over-the-top violence and grotesquery, etc. But “EVIL DEAD TRAP” is different; In the “EVIL DEAD TRAP” universe, there is almost no understanding what the hell is happening, or why- and that is, to me personally, somewhat refreshing. Where “The Evil Dead” was somewhat playful in its surrealistic moments (Ash’s hand going straight into a mirror, inanimate objects moving by themselves, etc.), “EVIL DEAD TRAP” is hardcore- nightmarish, bizarre, and of course, brutally violent.
“Evil Dead Trap” writer Takashi Ishii (who also penned the “Angel Guts” series) and director Toshiharu Ikeda (who also directed a bunch of porn, actually) bring us, in no particular order: a sadistic masked killer; logic-defying booby-traps & deaths; gritty industrial atmosphere & sets; a creepy & relentless electronic music score reminiscent of Goblin; some of the strangest supporting characters this side of The Log Lady; unexplained fireballs & explosions; twisted sexual violence, and numerous other surprises and “WTF?” moments (Can’t say more- Spoilers!).
This movie may be a lot of things- foul, disgusting, nonsensical- but it certainly isn’t boring! Ishii and Ikeda throw terror, perverse thrills, and suspense at us at every possible angle, resulting in a frenzied terror tale that looks and feels like a nasty fever dream; It is nonstop entertainment that doesn’t let a coherent plot spoil anything. So, if you enjoy movies that let logic fall away in favor of extreme style and strangeness (like Italian classics “Suspiria” or “The Beyond”), “Evil Dead Trap” is definitely for you. Also, if you just want to increase your J-horror intake without watching another movie about ghosts, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
“Evil Dead Trap” is available on DVD in the original Japanese with well-translated English subtitles from Synapse Films. Ride this grim nightmare- If you dare!
View the trailer here!
View the trailer here!