Review © Mandi Apple, 2002.

Directed by Toshiharu Ikeda, 1988, 102 min. starring Miyuki Ono, Yuji Honma, Hitomi Kobayashi, Eriko Nakagawa, Yuji Honma and Shinsuke Shimada.

The moral of this story is… never believe the blurb on the outside of a DVD box. Evil Dead Trap is, without a doubt, one of the very worst movies it has been my misfortune to have to suffer through twice. Yet Oliver Stone says on the box, and I quote, "A daring and grim thriller… reveals Japan's twisted sexual soul one terrifying scene after another". Just please bear in mind that this is, after all, Oliver Stone we're talking about, and think of the limp, clichéd garbage that is Natural Born Killers… can you see where I'm going with this? More cheese than blood and with none of the charisma or creepiness of the Guinea Pig series, you watch this one at your own peril.

The box also goes on to state categorically that Evil Dead Trap is "… reminiscent of Argento's Suspiria, Cronenbourg's eXistenZ and Raimi's Evil Dead", and that is the first honest thing anyone's said about it. Except for 'reminiscent', read 'ripping off and downright derivative'. It steals elements from these classic films and directors so totally that I'm surprised there weren't lawsuits involved. For instance, the soundtrack tries desperately to invoke the lovely, atmospheric Goblins soundtrack from Dario Argento's Suspiria, only Goblins consigned to early 80's synth hell, trapped behind a bank of Casio keyboards. The maggots scene from the same film also appears in Evil Dead Trap, as do the snuff-video images from Videodrome, the foam-rubber guts out of everything by Fulci, the booby-trapped weapon nicked from The Omen, and the first-person rushing-through-woods camerawork straight out of Evil Dead. I can't find anything ripped off from eXistenZ (although it has had a good go at Videodrome), but I'll send a crisp £5 GBP note to the first person to tell me what's been nicked from that film! There's even throwbacks to Alien in the ending. Has this director no shame at all?!

But Evil Dead Trap's worst failing is not so much the theft of all these elements, as the inability to do anything even remotely frightening or atmospheric with them. It's 102 minutes of sheer, unadulterated, naff tedium. Cliché layered upon cliché, lame acting, misogyny, gratuitous sex and rape, buckets of blood, stupid storyline, false-shocks, the daftest ending of any film I've ever seen, and a (not-very-)special effects budget of about 200¥ (for the tomato ketchup and fireworks) all combine to make this film a total stinker. And even worse, it looks like a film that was made in 1969 on zero budget, whereas in reality it was made in 1988 with serious studio money behind it. Awesomely reprehensible.

If old-fashioned Olde-Worlde genre-horror slasher pic with sex'n'blood'n'violence à la Guinea Pig (Ginipiggu) Series is your cup of gore, then you might enjoy this, despite the fact that it lacks the mystique and even the urrgh factor of Guinea Pig. To my mind, Evil Dead Trap seems like the very antithesis of the so-called New Wave of Japanese horror-film making; no suspense, no tension, no surprises, no beautiful resonant imagery, just a bunch of halfwits running around in the dark screaming a lot (so as not to attract the attention of the mysterious killer, I'll bet!).

Nami (played by Miyuki Ono) is a minor-celebrity news reporter who presents a TV show called "Late Night With Nami" where she asks people to send in their home videos, signing out with the tagline "To all of those who can't sleep…. goodnight!". Unsurprisingly, it's been drawing bad ratings for a while.

One night, she receives a package at the studio, addressed to "Nami and those who can't sleep", which contains an unmarked VHS cassette. However, this particular tape doesn't feature hilarious public trouser-dropping accidents or cute kittens; it begins with footage shot from a journey up a Japanese motorway, deliberately showing road signs along the way, and ending up at an abandoned military base. The tape then cuts to footage of a snuff scenario involving a woman who is brutally tortured and knifed through the eyeball. The video closes with a close-up picture of Nami herself, in a 'you're-next-mate!' style.

Unlike most normal people, Nami doesn't have a cow and call the cops; in time-honoured horror genre fashion, she decides instead to gather her film crew and personal assistants (Rya, Kendou, Mako and Rei, three women assistants and the male assistant producer of the show) to go and see if they can investigate the source of the bizarre video by tracing the journey from the video and finding the old military base, and hopefully the person who made the tape; as she says gleefully, "My death would bring in higher ratings!" Enough said, really…

When they finally arrive at the old base, as with all traditional slasher pics, predictably enough they decide it'd be a great idea to split up to search for clues. Whilst Nami is looking around, a mysterious stranger dressed all in black pops up and tells her to be careful as this place is dangerous and no place to hang around. It couldn't be more obvious that he's one of the Bad Guys if he'd had on a black Stetson and a huge Latino moustache. This 'mysterious stranger' has a habit of popping up at unexpected moments like a Greek chorus throughout the film, and it becomes apparent why later on.

From this moment onward, everything that you expect to happen, happens with sad and predictable regularity. There's plenty of extremely gratuitous and nonsensical sex (well, would you want to have sex in an abandoned decrepit factory when there's a homicidal maniac on the loose? I feel it would ruin the mood, myself), a totally pointless rape scene, and all the crew get picked off in a variety of ways by a mysterious hooded stranger. Think Freddy Krueger without the charisma, or even better, a tenth-rate Dracula impersonator - there are oodles of hammy shots of him flinging his cape around himself in true Lugosi style. You half expect him to cackle 'Bwwoohahahahaha!' at any moment.

There's no character exposition (you don't even get to find out the names of the crew members until the end), so you honestly don't care what happens to any of the victims anyway… especially when in true teen-stalker movie style, they all act so dumb that you want to scream 'Why are you doing that??!' every five minutes. Case in point: the hooded killer slashes the photographer's face, and then starts to chase after her; she trips and loses her high heels, and what does she do? No, you guessed wrong - she doesn't run like hell for the nearest exit - she goes back to pick them up and put them on again. She deserves everything she gets ;-)

So in summary: unless you really get a kick out of the Scream series, Halloween, Friday 13th parts 1-907 and Guinea Pig, you'll be wise to save your money and the precious extra 102 minutes of your life you would otherwise have wasted on this rubbish...

… and I'd quite like to know the reason why somebody saw fit to make Evil Dead Trap 2 and Evil Dead Trap 3, as well - is it supposed to be funny, or is it entirely unintentional?

Snowblood Apple Rating for this film:
Entertainment value: -10/10
Sex: uh...uh....uuuurghh...aaaargh!/10
Violence: 11/10
Caped Psychokillers: 1
Eye-stabbings: plentiful
Scare Factor: -10/10
Litres of tomato ketchup: a couple of greenhouses' worth
*** Buy at your own peril! Don't say we didn't warn you! ***

Evil Dead Trap Wallpaper

You can download this wallpaper here: [800x600] [1024x768]
Wallpaper credit: Alex 'Bwwooohahaha' UK, 2002

Snowblood Apple Filmographies:
Toshiharu Ikeda (director)
Miyuki Ono
Hitomi Kobayashi
Yuji Honma
Shinsuke Shimada

Links - Artsmagic are releasing films like Evil Dead Trap, Uzumaki, Wild Zero and Junk for the first time in the UK with English subtitles and reworked covers - finally no need for a multiregion DVD player (if you're in Europe, of course...) - they also have some totally awesome wallpapers to grace your desktop with - the wonderful guys at Unearthed Films own all the rights to the Guinea Pig (aka Ginipiggu) series, and have online sales with international shipping of all the films (including others such as Evil Dead Trap 2) on offer, not to mention a totally awesome site with streaming trailers, a fabulously gory gallery and loads more goodies for your bloodthirsty enjoyment!and while you're at it, make sure you check out... - ... the official website for Guinea Pig, with lots of reviews, a history of Guinea Pig, pictures from the films and loads more goodies

don't just take our word for it, here are some alternative opinions! - Midnight Eye's intelligent and incisive review of EDT - those sharp-shootin' fellers at Metamovie know what they're doing - the best-named site ever, Attack of the 50ft DVD - for fans of the popping eyeball sequences only - a positive review with posters and pics forthcoming - a page dedicated to Toshiharu Ikeda's films - The Monsterhunter's review (warning: spoilers in this one!)

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