Evil Dead Trap 2
Dir. Izo Hashimoto (1992)
A female projectionist/serial killer is caught in a tangled menage-a-quatre with her best friend, her best friend’s married lover, and possibly her aborted fetus.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Unearthed Films are known for releasing rare, hard-to-find genre cinema to the adoring masses, hearkening back to the days of the bootleg VHS tapes that would be traded amongst the most ardent gorehounds. I’m a collector by nature, so to say that I fully support their mission of bringing film to the masses would be quite an understatement. Evil Dead Trap 2, a sequel to the underground original hit, is one of their newest releases, and they were kind enough to let me check it out a little early. As a huge fan of J-horror and gore films in general, I was pumped to be able to check out a film from across the (other) pond that I haven’t seen before.
Evil Dead Trap 2 is about a movie theater projectionist, Aki, who also happens to be a serial killer. She’s best friends with a woman from high school named Emi who previously became famous as an “idol,” which I’m assuming is the same thing in Japan as it is here because she talks several times about being a singer. Emi is a newscaster who is also banging a married dude named Kurahashi. Kurahashi is also interested in banging Aki. It’s a jumbled menage à murder that dips heavily into the Japanese folklore tradition of Mizuko, when a woman is haunted by her aborted fetus. While I won’t delve too much into that part of the country’s folklore, I highly encourage anyone reading to look up the Mizuko craze of the 90’s where dozens of teenaged schoolgirls who had an abortion in the past were convinced that they were being haunted by their unwanted pregnancies. Fascinating stuff, one of the more interesting quirky legends to come from a Japanese culture that is full of them.
One part of the film that I thought was interesting were the parallels that the film shares with Jennifer’s Body. The relationship between the two women (Aki and Emi) are very similar to the one between Jennifer and Needy, in that their friendship is based more on competition, jealousy, and misguided narcissism directed at Aki. Emi is clearly clinging to her fame and beloved cultural status, yearning constantly to see herself on television and to mold Aki so that she becomes more like her. Aki simply wants to be happy, but happiness eludes her as she lives constantly in Emi’s shadow and with her own insecurities. She finally finds someone to love in Kurahashi, the affair being set up by Emi solely to make Aki even more envious of her lifestyle. Kurahashi and Emi are both terrible people, and while Aki isn’t really any better, they’re terrible in a much more human, less monstrous way, which can be even more dangerous
To call the story straightforward would be misleading, because it is every bit the meandering nonsense that J-horror often tends to be. While there is definitely a plot, and a defined one at that, the relationship between that storyline and what happens on-screen is not always linear or carefully plotted. The ending especially can seem to come out of nowhere, a bizarre and bloody final act that pits the two friends in a struggle to the death. However, as with other films in this genre, it is the look and feel of the movie, as well as the copious bloodshed, that will draw its crowd. Plot comes secondary to grotesque wish-fulfillment, a category that Evil Dead Trap 2 has in spades.
The giallo elements are hard to miss, with a score that sounds like it comes straight from Goblin (with a bit of Japanese flair) and color saturation that would make Bava blush (though this film sticks more to blue hues). It blends these genre tropes with the J-horror staples of more realistic violence, extreme discomfort, and a reliance on cultural mores and traditions, crafting a “sequel” to the original film that is anything but. It’s a crazy-as-hell ride, but it’s one worth taking for anyone who appreciates this kind of cinema. These types of movie fans may be a rarity, but thankfully Unearthed Films has made sure that the film is readily available for those that want to check it out.
Who this movie is for: J-horror lovers, Giallo enthusiasts, Pro-lifers
Bottom line: A neo-giallo with gorgeous cinematography and an enthralling dulcimer-driven soundtrack, this one is for anyone who wished that the old Italian masters spoke Japanese. It’s very clearly inspired by Argento’s iconic look and style, with a batshit crazy finale that would easily fit into his filmography. It doesn’t always make sense and is heavily propped up by the cultural lore in its home country, but it has more than enough disturbing gore to please and it’s found a great home with Unearthed Films. Definitely recommend checking this one out if you’re a fan of giallo or J-horror in general.