Evil Dead Trap (1988)

Evil Dead Trap (1988)
Director: Toshiharu Ikeda - Writer: Takashi Ishii - Starring: Miyuki Ono, Eriko Nakagawa, Aya Katsuragi, Hitomi Kobayashi, & Masahiko Abe.
Updated: 02-26-2006

Long before Saw came along and semi-reinvented the "death by vicious traps" sub-genre of splatter flicks, there was a Japanese cult favorite by the name of Evil Dead Trap, a film that bears no relation to the Sam Raimi series of the (kinda) same name, but is probably a flick that Mr. Raimi would probably be able to appreciate.

The plot could not be simpler: Nami is the host of a late-night tabloid show, and her viewers frequently send in all sorts of wild videotaped escapades. But after receiving what clearly (and rather disgustingly) looks like a bona-fide snuff film, Nami and a quartet of doomed co-workers head out to an isolated and mysterious factory to see who sent the tape.

The first hour of Evil Dead Trap feels like homage to the finest giallo and slasher flicks from the late 1970s and '80s. Each of Nomi's pals ends up on the receiving end of a truly grisly fate. One gal gets skewered with three massive spikes, another gets a machete-trap right to the side of the noggin ... and boy is it splattery.

But director Toshiharu Ikeda has a little trouble keeping the momentum up once Act II meanders into Act III. As soon as our desperate heroine's pals have all been sliced, skewered, and shish-kabobed, the flick shifts into a virtually endless parade of whinings, wanderings, and endless chitchat. After surviving the blood parade, Nami meets up with a mysterious guy who's (allegedly) searching the massive factory for his missing brother. This is the material that impedes a perfectly serviceable (and massively sloppy) slash-fest, because with no more potential victims, all we're left with is aimless yip-yap and a twist ending that feels like it was transplanted in from a completely different movie.

And it's kind of a shame, too. One hates to hope for the most obvious things in a horror movie, but when Evil Dead Trap is focusing on the set-'em-up, slash-'em-down body-count shenanigans, the movie has a grim and gritty anti-charm that's quite devilishly entertaining. Most viewers will find themselves wishing that Nami had brought an extra half-dozen co-workers along for the journey, because once the flick finishes off the supporting characters, it settles into a royal rut with the wandering and the whining and outright silliness.

For a movie that starts off with one of the most amazingly disgusting "knife meets eyeball" sequences ever made, it sure does fade into some sort of self-parody in its third act. The gruesome mood and grungy tone end up replacing by non-stop yammering and (get this) feral, demonic fetuses. Yeah, it gets really weird toward the end.

The Synapse DVD comes with a crisp & clean Widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 2.0 sound (Japanese-language, of course, but with English subtitles), a few bonus trailers, and a feature-length audio commentary by director Toshiharu Ikeda and his visual FX supervisor.

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