Evil Dead Trap, known in Japan as Shiryō no wana (死霊の罠?), is a 1988 Japanese exploitation slasher film directed by Toshiharu Ikeda and produced by Japan Home Video."
Nami is the hostess of a late-night TV program called, appropriately enough, “Late Night With Nami.” She makes a living showing weird home movies sent to her by her fans. One day, Nami finds a strange package waiting for her on her desk titled, “For Nami, and those who can’t sleep.” It contains a video featuring a woman bound and gagged in a deserted-looking warehouse. At first Nami thinks it’s just another one of “those” tapes, sent to her by obnoxious kids playing practical jokes. But soon her expression turns to horror when the woman is stripped, slashed, and has her eye gouged out violently with a knife (in an image that can only be described as nightmarish).
Despite the protests of her boss, Nami thinks it would be a great publicity stunt to get a bunch of her crew together and find the abandoned building where the video was shot. Luckily for her, the beginning of the tape featured the (unseen) killer driving to the scene of the crime, and she and her small band of crewmembers manage to find the desolate-looking location. Naturally, Nami’s “crew” mainly consists of bouncy, giggly women who squeal at the first sign of danger and split up at the most inopportune times to do things like have sex.
Meanwhile, Nami goes off by herself where she’s surprised by a man who says he’s looking for someone, before warning her that “this isn’t a playground!” The place itself turns out to be an abandoned military base, with seemingly endless blue-tinged hallways and a dreamlike fog hanging over it constantly. And it’s safe to say that the killer from the videotape is still lurking there: a huge, Bowie knife-wielding bogeyman in a black rain slicker. It’s also safe to say that Nami and her friends aren’t going to be leaving so soon, as one by one, or in small groups, they’re stalked and killed off by the killer and his clever booby traps – or evil dead traps, I guess you could say.
To cut a long story short, Nami is the only one left alive and finds herself reunited with the mysterious man from the beginning. Together, the two must escape the cavernous army base and make it back to civilization – though, as you’d probably expect, not everything is what it seems.
- Miyuki Ono as Nami Tsuchiya
- Yuji Honma as Daisuke Muraki
- Hitomi Kobayashi as Rei Sugiura
- Shinsuke Shimada as the TV producer
- Aya Katsuragi as Masako Abe
- Masahiko Abe as Akio Kondou
- Eriko Nakagawa as Rya Kawamura
- Mari Shimizu as the voice of Hideki
- Kyōko Hashimoto
- Terumi Niki as the voice of Haha no Koe
Special effects were by Shinichi Wakasa who would go on to a career as a monster-suit maker for several Godzilla movies.
Hitomi Kobayashi who plays the supporting role of Rei Sugiura was a top star for Japan Home Video (JHV) under their adult video (AV) label Alice Japan. JHV financed the film as a vehicle for Kobayashi but director Toshiharu Ikeda, unsure of Kobayashi's acting ability, instead put Miyuki Ono in the starring role.
The film was released theatrically in Japan as Shiryō no wana (死霊の罠) on May 14, 1988> and it was later released in Japan as a VHS tape on September 25, 1988 and as a DVD on June 23, 2000. A DVD version titled Evil Dead Trap with English subtitles came out November 7, 2000 from Synapse Films
The film received generally positive reviews from critics. Allmovie describes the film as a "provocative horror film" and a "sickening but riveting slasher" while Tom Mes at Midnight Eye called it a "highly effective and suspenseful slasher movie" with "imaginative and gruesomely impressive death scenes". Another reviewer finds the plot "so ridiculously ludicrous that it's laughable" but feels that the disturbing images and elaborate death scenes make up for it.
- Weisser, Thomas. (1998). "Asian Cult Cinema Report: Film, News and Gossip", in Asian Cult Cinema, #22, 1st Quarter, 1999, p. 4-6. (American premier of Evil Dead Trap)