Late night TV show hostess Nami (Miyuki Ono) encourages her viewers to send in their home video tapes and receives a snuff videotape depicting the brutal murder of a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to herself. Determined to boost ratings for her show, she sets out with a makeshift film crew to the location of the murder which she recognizes as a deserted army base not too far from the main city. Once inside the compound the crew are separated and gradually despatched via a series of inventive death traps.
Despite displaying all the trappings of familiar slasher territory the plot takes a turn into more obscure (and more monstrous) realms with the introduction of a stranger wandering the compound called Muraki (Yuji Honma). Muraki, is apparently oblivious to pain, and appears related to the killer – just how close, is revealed in a showdown that consists of thematics lifted from several Cronenberg movies, and special effects that recall to mind Raimi’s THE EVIL DEAD.
Despite being described by director Toshiharu Ikeda as “an ultra-black comedy” satirising the media in a manner similar to Oliver Stone’s NATURAL BORN KILLERS, the movie displays some of the most graphic murders committed to celluloid. The snuff video seen at the beginning, in which a crucified woman has her breasts graphically mutilated (WARNING: the BBFC have shortened this sequence by 8 seconds) and then has her eyeball slowly pierced by a blade sets the tone for the rest of the film. We witness one victim fall back onto a chair as steel spears impale her, a savage hunting knife slash through another’s hand, an industrial blade slice through a woman’s skull, and strangulation by steel wire. Oh, and there's the obligatory Japanese rape sequence, which is actually pretty restrained given the visual excess of sexual violence diaplayed in the likes of Ikeda’s ANGEL GUTS: RED PORNO / Tenshi no harawata: Akai inga (1981) and XX: BEAUTIFUL BEAST / Utsukushiki kemono (1995).
Despite similarities to the style of Dario Argento, Ikeda’s inventive use of various film techniques that incorporate black and white, steadicam, rapid editing, and frenzied camera movement lend EVIL DEAD TRAP a touch of class that sets it aside from most of its Japanese counterparts, and it is surprising that it has taken the film 14 years to receive a UK release. Obviously, I would advise readers to try and track down an uncut version, but I think you’ll still be surprised at the amount of gore on display in this Eastern Cult Cinema release from Artsmagic Ltd, and the company deserve your support in order to bring to the UK further examples of Asian extreme cinema, hopefully in an unexpurgated form next time round.
Carl T. Ford
Directed by Toshiharu Ikeda
Japanese language With Optional English Subtitles
Japan / 1988 / 100 minutes.
SPECIAL DVD FEATURES
An Artsmagic Eastern Cult Cinema DVD release
Region 2. PAL. Dolby Digital Stereo.
EVIL DEAD TRAP