Shiryô no wana (1988)

Directed by Toshiharu Ikeda [Other horror films: Ningyo densetsu (1984), Yudono-sanroku noroi mura (1984), Ikisudama (2001)]

While generally a movie that’s well-worth the watch, this Japanese film, commonly known under the title Evil Dead Trap, is a bit of a mixed bag. While no doubt there are plenty of fantastically gory sequences and decent slasher-esque fun, the problem is that the conclusion, and in fact, the final twenty minutes, just don’t do a lot for me.

Certainly ending fatigue is a problem that some movies suffer, but I’ve not seen a case quite as bad as this in a while. Honestly, if the last twenty minutes were cut and the story tied up around 85 minutes in, Evil Dead Trap might have felt a decent amount more consistent and thusly an easier film to recommend.

Aside from the failures of the conclusion, though, I think the movie has a decent amount to offer. The plot itself feels like an almost-more coherent Videodrome (and while we’re on potential inspirations, some of the quick-moving camera shots are reminiscent of The Evil Dead), and follows, for the most part, a typical slasher set-up in a beautifully-deserted factory.

Miyuki Ono made for a decently strong lead, and especially toward the end, I definitely got the sense that her character regretted getting her friends mixed up in such a deadly and dangerous scenario. The other women (Aya Katsuragi, Hitomi Kobayashi, and Eriko Nakagawa) all had their strong points. While of iffy character, Masahiko Abe was decent too.

The design of the killer is pretty top-notch, feeling a little bit like the Fisherman from I Know What You Did Last Summer. Of course, this movie is a lot more off-the-wall (which shows most during the finale), but at least the killers’ designs are in somewhat similar veins.

And related, the special effects are quality. Just in the first five minutes of the film, we see a woman get one of her eyeballs slit open, with liquid gushing out. We see another woman impaled multiple times, and another gets a blade swinging down, colliding with the side of her face. You have a few people shot with crossbows, to be sure, and someone else gets garroted, which wasn’t particularly violent, but when the movie went that direction, it could be plenty gruesome, and I think it stands out well for that.

I also have to give a shout-out to the fantastic music here. It’s as decent as you’d hope from an 80’s horror film, and combined with the often stylish shots this movie went with, Evil Dead Trip, despite the ending, had a beautifully 80’s vibe.

After seeing this again for the first time in what has to be ten years, I had a pretty decent time with Evil Dead Trap, but I can’t pretend that the ending isn’t a let-down (and not just a small let-down, but a pretty big flop). Without the shaky conclusion, this movie could have been a rather high-rated piece of foreign cinema, but as it is, it’s probably just around a high average.


Author: Jiggy's Horror Corner

Fan of the horror genre, writer of mini-reviews, and lover of slashers.

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