A group of television reporters travel to an abandoned warehouse to try and discover the source of an apparent snuff film. Upon arrival they are victim to a brutal killer who slaughters them one by one.
The film most likely needs no introduction. If you’ve been into horror for any length of time you’ve surely at least heard of Evil Dead Trap. The story is centered on a woman who hosts a late night video show that features “shocking” real life footage submitted by its viewers. When she receives a mysterious VHS tape in the mail, she discovers what appears to be a snuff film contained therein that features the graphic torture and murder of a woman who looks just like her. Naturally, she embarks on a quest to find and meet the person who made the film, because what could possibly go wrong? With a gaggle of her co-workers in tow they travel to the creepy abandoned warehouse that the tape points to only to find out (surprise!) the person who sent it is a fucking psycho and they begin dying one by one in a number of horrifying ways.
A testament to human stupidity? Perhaps. More likely it’s just a means to an end. What Evil Dead Trap lacks in depth and logic it more than makes up for in graphic violence and an eccentricity that only the Japanese can really pull off. Despite being an obvious excuse to get a bunch of women into a spooky building so they can scream their heads off, Toshiharu Ikeda’s uncompromising slasher is clever in its execution and the kill sequences are imaginative, grueling, and often deliciously cruel; including in my opinion one of the best strangulation sequences ever devised and a rape/murder scene that is so long and drawn out that one can’t help but marvel at the misogyny contained therein. The film looks terribly dated by today’s standards but the gore effects are by and large some of the best the genre has to offer, the opening sequence of the snuff film in particular drawing parallels to Fulci and Argento in their heyday. Hell, even the score is suitably Argento-esque.
At its core, Evil Dead Trap is a typical slasher film, full of vapid idiots who willingly put themselves in danger and meet their rightful end. Where it distances itself from its peers is in the cruelty in which these wastes of skin are forcibly shuffled off this mortal coil, almost taking pleasure in drawing out their deaths as punishment for their imprudence. In true Japanese fashion, the film is full of all manner of nonsensical weirdness as well. Suddenly characters are pelted with what looks like fireworks, there’s some random guy wearing a ball gag leashed to the wall, not to mention the whole “WTF” factor of the killer himself; giving the film have a dark, unpredictable atmosphere that you typically don’t find in its American brethren. In addition to the typical slasher trappings, there’s also a somewhat head-scratching supernatural element to the story that’s never really quite explored. Several scenes feature some sort of entity flying through the halls (a la Evil Dead) of the old abandoned warehouse but it seems to not really have any bearing on the story at all.
Evil Dead Trap isn’t without its shortcomings; most of the victims are disposed of within the first half of the film leaving us to watch the main character wander about aimlessly either trying to escape or unravel the mystery (I’m not being ambiguous; she can’t seem to fucking make up her mind). This leaves a good portion of the film feeling tedious, without any reward for the viewer’s patience given the shitty nonsensical ending.
Overall I would highly recommend Evil Dead Trap to slasher and giallo fans alike, as well as to anyone looking for a bit of J-horror that doesn’t involve a stupid ghost girl with her hair in her face.
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.