= Highest Rating
scary and literally bursting with gore, this Japanese
shocker was obviously directed by a big
fan of Italian horror maestro Dario Argento. The
results are highly derivative but stylishly helmed.
presenter Nami (Miyuki Ono) is the host of a late
night program that solicits and airs videos sent
in by viewers. One day she receives a horrifying
entry from an anonymous source —
a "snuff" tape that by all indications depicts
the actual torture and murder of a young woman.
Revolted, Nami is determined to discover who's
behind the atrocity, whether real or faked. Before
reaching its repulsive climax (including the nastiest
ocular damage committed to film since the salad
days of Lucio Fulci), the tape shows POV shots
of a vehicle driving on a highway, finally arriving
at a run-down factory-type building where the
"murder" takes place. Nami believes she can locate
the scene of the crime by following road signs
glimpsed on the driving portions of the tape.
afternoon, accompanied by members of her program's
production staff —
three women and a man, all yuppie twentysomethings
Nami sets out to locate the mysterious "factory".
It proves relatively easy to find though the complex
isn't marked on a road atlas. They discover that
it's actually a deserted U.S. military base from
the days of the Cold War, long abandoned and now
overgrown with weeds. The four staffers split
into pairs to begin a search of the place; headstrong
Nami heads off on her own. As in any horror
faux pas will invariably have fatal consequences.
Nami's coworkers are picked off by an exceedingly
sadistic killer dressed in a dark rain slicker
and camouflage mask, who stalks the environs of
the deserted base like some ghostly apparition.
But the murderer isn't the only one lurking there.
Nami encounters a strange young man who seems
friendly but is very cryptic when questioned;
another man, apparently a prisoner held by Mr.
Raincoat who's been driven insane by captivity
and torture, attacks and rapes one of the female
staffers before the killer finishes her off. Racked
by guilt for leading her companions into a deadly
trap, it's up to Nami to confront the murderer
and learn his sinister secret. But can her psyche
withstand the mind-bending truth?
truth, in the end, doesn't make a whole lot of
sense. Supernatural forces come into play during
the climax, plot elements that left me just a
tad perplexed. But no matter. Like his idol Argento,
director Toshiharu Ikeda is inclined to favor
intriguing visuals over coherent storytelling.
At times it seems as if he's attempting to emulate
Suspiria in tone and
atmosphere; there's even a repetitive, Goblin-like
score to punctuate the weirdness and mayhem. (Some
of that mayhem, I should warn, can get rather
and I'm not just referring to gore. The rape scene,
while not explicit, goes on for quite some time
and can make for awkward viewing in mixed company.)
Evil Dead Trap's
strong suits are its chilling set-pieces —
stylishly lensed and edited, flavored with kinetic,
Raimi-esque camera movements —
and the competent performance of Ms. Ono, who's
very good as Nami.
its creepy locale, flinch-inducing murder scenes
and stylish aesthetics, fans of Italian gialli
should particularly enjoy this Japanese 'stab'
at Argento-like horror.
comes to North American DVD courtesy of Synapse
Films, which has also released some of Jess Franco's
work (including Vampyros
Lesbos), Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph
the Will, and
the Atomic Age "Red Scare" disc Invasion
U.S.A., among others.
is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen format, in the
original Japanese with removable, easy-to-read English
subtitles. (While European flicks don't suffer as
much when dubbed into English, I think Asian films
are best experienced in their native languages.)
There are only a couple of minor blemishes evident
on the source print; otherwise it's flawless. Grain
is apparent in many of the scenes, but this is how
the film is supposed to look —
its low budget origins necessitated it be shot in
16mm. Sound quality is very good.
commentary is included, featuring director Ikeda
and special effects supervisor Shinichi Wakasa talking
and joking about the movie. I question its worth.
Both gentlemen speak in halting, heavily accented
English; entire passages of their conversation are
practically unintelligible. (I actually gave up
before listening to it in its entirety.) The disc's
only other extra is the spoiler-laden theatrical