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Evil Dead Trap 2   C+

Unearthed Films / Japan Home Video

Year Released: 1991 (USA: 2003)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Izô Hashimoto
Writers: Izô Hashimoto, Chiaki Konaka
Cast: Shoko Nakajima, Shirô Sano, Rie Kondoh, Shino Ikenami.

Review by Jim Harper

Evil Dead Trap is one of my favorite Japanese horror movies, so I was rather looking forward to the second film in the series, despite the fact that Toshiharu Ikeda and Takashi Ishii had nothing to do with it. This time the director's chair is filled by Izô Hashimoto, best known for scripting Akira (1988) and directing the psychedelic horror flick Bloody Fragments on White Walls (1989). Co-writer Chiaki Konaka's extensive credits include installments of the Haunted School franchise and both Eko Eko Azarak television series.

The film's main focus is on Aki (Shoko Nakajima), a lonely and overweight film projectionist. Her only friend is Emi (Rie Kondoh), a glamorous and oversexed television reporter who delights in flaunting her boyfriends in front of Aki and making thinly veiled references to Aki's nonexistent sex life. What she doesn't know is that Aki has taken to slaughtering prostitutes, usually after clumsy and unsuccessful attempts to initiate sexual activity. The mutilated bodies are found on construction sites, with Emi covering the story every time a new one shows up.

The rivalry between Aki and Emi makes for compulsive viewing, but about 40 minutes in, Hashimoto starts to pile on the surrealist touches. Although loosely tied to the narrative, these scenes make less and less sense as the film progresses, eventually devolving into a series of fights between the two women in increasingly bizarre surroundings. These are excellently shot, with the influence of Dario Argento still obvious in terms of color and light, and they're very gory, but they hold little interest.

It's a shame Hashimoto chose the route he did, because for awhile Evil Dead Trap 2 was shaping up to be a decent thriller. The film's main theme, the disruptive effects of pregnancy and abortion, falls by the wayside after introducing a number of tantalizing and sinister elements. What's the significance of the boy Kurahashi's wife is talking to? Is it the same boy in Aki's visions? Sadly, we'll never know. Hashimoto is clearly a capable director, and his actors deliver solid performances, but by the time the credits roll the film has become tiresome and frustrating.

Review published 01.14.2005.

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