Saturday, August 27, 2011

Yo! Embryo! :Evil Dead Trap (1988)

Evil Dead Trap (Shiryo No Wana) (Japan, 1988)
Starring: Miyuki Ono, Aya Katsuragi and Hitomi Kobayashi

I've always loved Japan for its anime, otaku culture, sushi and their ear picks.(especially the latter) But there is one thing I've always been eyeing for Japan and that is the fact that the country had rarely approached the slasher genre when it comes to horror. True, they did have the giallo-anime movie "Perfect Blue (1997)" and yes they recently had the entertainingly cheesy "DeathTube (2010)" but for a straight slasher, the only thing they gave us with much success was this late 80s entry.
Am I glad this is in black and white?
Those ain't no chopsticks...
Evil Dead Trap is about a midnight video show host Nami Tsuchiya who one evening receives a mysterious tape of a bound woman, chained and her dress tattered, screaming for help from an abandoned warehouse. Nami sighs in annoyance as she digress this tape as another kinky prank when a knife bound hand starts to cut off what remains of the woman's clothes. Things suddenly took a dark turn when the same knife slowly pokes an eye open and mutilates it.

Sure that what they got on their hands is a genuine snuff film, Nami tagged along a small group to investigate the murder, much to her manager's disagreement. Following the killer's recorded road trip to the scene of the crime, she and her little crew of would-be detectives eventually finds the warehouse and encounters a mysterious "Detective" who's looking for someone. Who this "someone" is, he never bothered answering. Suspiciously enough, he went on to his separate ways, leaving Nami and her ragtag team on their own.

No sooner after that, a man in a rain slicker and papermache mask began offing Nami's team one by one with over-the-top booby traps until all that was left is her. Can Nami last long enough to fight our boogeyman on her own? Or will she meet a fate far worse than death?

By the time they released this film in 1988, the gore-hungry movie-goers had momentarily gone stale from the slasher subgenre and the tired formula just wasn't gonna cut it. So, Evil Dead Trap lay flat like a dried fish until the time later when fans saw how well made this trippy movie was on video releases.

Now I know what I'm gonna dress up for Halloween!
Director Toshiharu Ikeda may had seen an Argento film or two as colored lighting and crazy photography stylized his movie quite effectively. Every now and then we're treated with dream-like imagery surrounding the murders and even ordinary scenes involving the characters. There's a strong mood created by the film's eerie location, claustrophobic of sorts as many of the scenes were done in hallways and rooms.

Gore is also ever present though nothing too visceral; the kills were torturous and prolonged by heavy brutality and nerve-wrecking tension, which boasts a cinematography rich in style and flair that may put House on Sorority Row (1983) on a bit of competition.

Of course, the film isn't without its flaws. While the murders are gruesome and darkly arranged, it all happened so soon that within an hour, nearly all of our casts are dead, leaving thirty minutes with Nami wandering around on her own or with the mysterious Detective. The wait was worth it, however, as a really weird finale awaits in the near end. Obviously, it's a no-brainer that the mysterious man is our killer but its the unsuspecting twist that gave me a rather grim feeling about the whole film and a good reason to love it. The twist divides audience, creates opinions, and created both fans and haters, but its the film's strongest point.
Even in the face of danger, there's nothing like a cig to light.
As an artsy stab on a seemingly dying sub-genre, Japan had it made with this outlandish entry and cult fave. Not going to be the kind of hack-a-thon that will appeal to everybody but at least Evil Dead Trap tries and worked on a level.

1 female had an eye gouged with knife, slashed to death with knife
1 female repeatedly impaled with giant spikes
1 male gets a arrow head shot though his head and exits to his mouth
1 female garroted with thin wire noose
1 male head found
1 female gets a projected machete split the side of her head open
1 male stabbed himself in the heart with knife
total: 7


  1. The Guard from the Underground is another older (early nineties, I think) Japanese slasher. I have the DVD, but haven't gotten around to watching it yet, so I can't tell you if it's any good or not.

    1. I might try it. I've been hearing a lot of good, if nto fair, stuff about it