Saturday, May 16, 2009

Evil Dead Trap

Like the Eternal Evil of Asia, this was another of the first Asian horror movies I ever owned. In retrospect, I see that I was completely being spoiled by almost solely purchasing high quality Asian horror, as later years and the spread of what feels like hundreds of cookie-cutter “scary ghost girl terrorizes people for using technology” films would water the product down so heavily that an impulse purchase nowadays is far more likely to give you a mediocre to terrible film than one actually worth having. Fortunately, back in the days before Ringu/Ju-On/Dark Water/Angry Ghost Girl With Long Black Hair 87 flooded the market, here in America we were only given access to the very best Asia had to offer, such as this film.

The film follows a group of women that work for a small late night news show who receive a video detailing a woman being tortured and killed. Also featured on the video is a nice lengthy driving sequence showing the girls how to get to the abandoned warehouse/factory type place where the murder was committed. Now, as anyone with half a brain would do in their situation, they decide not to call the cops, as this might just be their big break as serious reporters, and they decide instead to grab a cameraman and drive out there to investigate. They all start dying soon afterwards.

The film has two main flaws to it, both heavily intertwined. One is in the weak pacing, as almost every death in the film occurs within the first hour. The reason for this is due to its other flaw, in how the first two thirds of the film work really, really well as a particularly nasty slasher film, while the final third suddenly turns into a Cronenberg film. Just completely out of nowhere it devolves into complete weirdness and insanity, and I can’t say I’m a very big fan of all that, at least not when a film was doing such a good job at doing things in a semi-sane manner.

That said, when the film is working it does a really great job. It’s got a really gritty, grindhouse-style look to it that perfectly complements the grisly murders that take place in it. The murders themselves are also a piece of work; it should come as no surprise that Japan was and is able to make video nasties much better and more grotesque than anything America or England was capable of. Just compare this to, say, its namesake Evil Dead, which got an NC-17 in the USA and an X in England prior to being outright banned as a video nasty, for reasons that elude anyone who’s ever actually seen the film. Compared to that film, this should have gotten a XXX rating while being edited down to a 20 minute run time. Moral of the story: don’t even try to compete with Japan when it comes to brutal violence against women, you’ll never come close to matching them.

Rating: ***

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