No Sam Raimi. No Bruce Campbell. Just the EVIL! “Evil Dead Trap” reviewed (Unearthed Films / Blu-ray)



Nami, a Japanese late night show host, is seeing her ratings dipping.  Though not in danger of losing her all-female produced show, Nami decides take her team on an investigation of a mysterious snuff tape that was mailed to her specifically.  Left for her is a bread crumb trail of directions to an abandoned military base, Nami and her crew explore the campus’s rundown structure, searching for evidence, a body, a story that they can televise.  Ignoring the dangerous presence around them, they dig deeper into the dilapidating labyrinth where they horrifying discover something waiting for them laid out in a cruel plan of deadly traps with a maniac pulling at all the strings. 

Bred out of a pedigree of pinkusploitations and a nation’s crisis of identity after the Second Great War, “Evil Dead Trap” is a greatly symbolized Japanese machination tale helmed by pink film director Toshiharu Ikeda (“Sex Hunter,” “Angel Guts:  Red Porno”) and penned by an equally historical pink film screenwriter and “Angel Guts” manga series creator Takashi Ishii (“Girl and the Wooden Horse Torture,” “Angel Guts” series).  Also known under its original Japanese title, “Shiryô no wana,” as well as, and my personal favorite, “Tokyo Snuff,” in Spain, “Evil Dead Trap’s” smorgasbord of rape, torture, and gory death naturally shocked viewers upon release and continues to do so as one of J-Horror’s branched out films that segued out from the brutal and depraved pink film inspired context into the new longstanding ghost genre we’ve seen over the last few decades with “Ringu” (“The Ring”) or “Ju-on” (“The Grudge”).  The production company Joy Pack Films, behind the 1980’s obscure Japan films, such as Genji Nakamura’s “Go For Broke” and Banmel Takahashi’s “Wolf,” houses the “Evil Dead Trap” from executive producer Tadao Masumizu.

If you recognize a couple cast members, or maybe just their naked bodies, then there’s something depraved about you!  With all kidding aside, but no seriously, if Rei (Hitomi Kobayashi) or Kondo (Masahiko Abe) look familiar, then you my friend are pink film aficionados as Kobayashi has starred in “Hard Petting” and “Young Girl Story” and Abe was in these pink film hits the “Pink Curtain” trilogy and “Female College Dorm Vs Nursing School Dormitory.”  If these faces didn’t touch you in any kind of sensual way, no worries, leading lady Miyuki Ono brings the star power.  The “Black Rain’s” Ono plays Nami, a go-getter television host/personality with her sights set on ramping up her late night show’s ratings, but also sucked into the posted snuff film’s darkest allure that’s personally calling her into to a precarious story lead.   Nami could also be a homage to one of screenwriter Takashi Ishii’s manga-inspired pink films entitled “Angel Guts: Nami” and the title might not be the only aspect paid honor to with that particular Nami written with a journalistic vocation drawn into and obsessed with a serial rapist’s attacks, making a striking parallel between the two stories that are nearly a decade apart. Eriko Nakagawa and Aya Katsurgagi fill out Nami’s investigating team as Rei and Mako. As a whole, the characters lack personality; Rei and Kondo tickle with relationship woes that are snuffed out before fruition, Rie’s timid innocence barely peaks through, and Nami and Mako’s thicker bond compared to the rest of the team is squashed to smithereens way before being suckled into note worthy tragedy. This late night show team has been reduced to slasher fodder and, honestly, I’m okay with that as we’re only here for the deadly traps. Noboru Mitani, Shinsuke Shimada, and Yûji Honma, as the mystery man looking for his brother, complete “Evil Dead Traps” casting.

“Evil Dead Trap” boasts a melting pot of inspirations, a mishmash of genres, and spins a nation’s split identity variation crowned in aberration. Diversely colorful neon-hazy lighting complimented by a Goblin-esque synth-rock soundtrack from Tomohiko Kira (“Shadow of the Wraith”), Toshiharu Ikeda shadows early Dario Argento inside and outside the popularity of the Italian giallo genre as the “Evil Dead Trap” murder-mystery horrors resemble more of a westernized slasher with a killer concealed behind a mask stalking a fringed, neglected compound in a conspicuous outfit. While the killer dons no hockey mask or snug in a mechanic’s jumpsuit, an equally domicile, yet more calculated, antagonist taunts more brains than brawns, especially with the severity of traps that seemingly float from out of nowhere. The fun is chiefly in the imagination of how the trap designs operate in the void of physics of a slasher fodder film so wipe clean the Jigsaw and the “Saw” films from your mind completely and relax to enjoy the outlandish kill scenes. Some of the kills are imperialistically inspired by Imperial Japan, that is, to blend the wartime nation’s atrocities with how the proud country wants to distance itself from that old-fashion, war-criminal, stoically perverse superstratum layer, but that’s were “Evil Dead Trap” pulls for most of the juicy parts as well as supplementing with Argento lighting, some, believe it or not, “Evil Dead” elements of that menacing presence bulldozing through the spiritual world, and an divergent climatic finale stuck to the narrative body that’s akin to pulling off the head of a doll and replacing it with T-Rex head’s. The uniformity quells under the pressure of how to end Nami’s and her attacker’s coda with pageantry weirdness that’s typical status quo Japanese cinema. Lots of symbolism, little modest explanation.

Get caught in “Evil Dead Trap” now back in print and on Blu-ray courtesy of Unearthed Films, distributed by MVD Visual, as part of the extreme label’s Unearthed Classics spine #5. The Blu-ray is presented in a matted 1.66:1 aspect ratio, a format rarely used in the States but widely used in other countries. Reverting to the 1.66:1 from Synapse’s 1.85:1 crop, Unearthed Films showcases more of the European feel, heightening that colorful vibrancy of the Argento-like schemes. Image quality has peaked on this transfer with natural grain with the 35mm stock, but details are not granularly sharp in an innate flaw of the time’s equipment and lighting. Shinichi Wakasa’s unobscured practical effects heed to the details and don’t necessary suffer the wrath of miniscule soft picture qualities when you’re impaling someone or birthing a slimy evil twin…you’ll see. Add in Ikeda’s wide range of shooting techniques, you’d think you’re watching Hitchcock or Raimi and the focus really lands there with the differently camera movements and techniques. The Japanese language single channel PCM audio fastens against that robust, vigorous quality to make “Evil Dead Trap’s” diverse range and depth that much more audibly striking, but there’s a good amount of silver lining in there being no damage albeit discernable, but not intrusive static to the audio files, dialogue is unobstructed and prominent, and the stellar synth-rock soundtrack nostalgically takes you back to when you first watched “Suspiria” or “Dawn of the Dead.” English subtitles are available but display with a few second delay which can be cumbersome if trying to keep up. Special features includes three commentaries that include director Toshiharu Ikeda and special effects supervisor Shinichi Wakasa, filmmaker Kurando Mitsutake (“Gun Woman”), and James Mudge of easternKicks. Plus, a Trappings of the Dead: Reflecting on the Japanese Cult Classic retrospect analysis from a Japanese film expert, Storyboards, Behind the scenes stills, promotional artwork, trailers, and a cardboard slipcover with phenomenal artwork. Highly recommend this atypical Japanese slasher, “Evil Dead Trap,” now on Blu-ray home video!

Own “Evil Dead Trap” on Blu-ray!

Another Door, Another Evil! “Beyond the Seventh Door” review!


Recently released from prison, ex-con Boris reaches out to his former lover, Wendy, to discuss the status of their relationship after her cold feet episode on a robbery job where she drives away the getaway car, leaving him red handed when the cops arrive. Wendy wants more than anything to live a normal, honest life and Boris aims to please her wishes, but needs to pull of one big job to set their future. Fortunately for him, Wendy happens to be the plaything of a wealthy paraplegic who owns a lustrous castle. Boris convinces Wendy to recon the inside, to find where the treasure might lay within the belly of the castle walls, and when the pair of thieves manage to break into the castle’s fortified basement, escaping is inevitable when a deadly game unravels. Trapped inside a chamber of terror, Boris and Wendy must go through a series of enigmatic riddles and deadly traps to move forward toward what they’ve broken into to steal, but when offered a chance to leave the game with their lives intact, will an acceptance to live be decided upon or will Boris and Wendy gamble for greed?

InterVision Picture Corp., has done it again with another stellar resurrection from the VHS video graveyard with the release and distribution of the Canadian gem “Beyond the Seventh Door.” The debut of B.D. Benedikt’s written and directed horror doesn’t display much of the elements associated with the horror genre with the exception of an acute dispersion of thrills and mystery; instead, Benedikt’s film breeds a mutt that commingles fear invoking atmospherics with the intensity of an unflinching, yet undetectable, moral essence that amusingly reestablishes the very Canadian stereotype of being too nice for the North American nation’s own good. The clearly expressed message of greed goes without saying in a plot that involves incurable thieves making life and death choices over materialistic riches despite the consequences that follow if to pursuing the latter. Another theme exposed is that working together will increase your chances to overcomes obstacles as Boris and Wendy mesh their strength and their smarts to solve puzzles and to escape traps before them and on the other end of the spectrum, going at the situation alone doesn’t work out for either one of them. The prominent themes intertwine effortlessly into a modest story that doesn’t become undercut by today’s inherent plot twists or fail to meet captivating interests as the themes are timeless and current as greed never goes out of style proven by the recent Oscar nominations for Ridley Scott’s drama “All the Money in the World.”

The cast quartet requires not one more soul to showpiece this Canadian cult classic. Leading the quaint pack is the Yugoslavian stud Lazar Rockwood and the rumors are true, Rockwood does look like the long time on screen villain Billy Drago, but Rockwood, as Boris, is no hard nose bad guy but along the lines of an anti-hero with his crooked conscious overtop a softer, tender heart for his past life lover Wendy. Bonnie Beck tackles Wendy as a woman pulled by two desires: her feelings for Boris and a normal life without lawlessness. Her more memorable scene consists of her stripping her red, thigh high skirt, exposing the lacy, black garter underneath, and comically trying to plug water spewing holes in order to not drown. Rockwood and Beck’s on screen chemistry doesn’t jive and, to be overly honest, their bond is substantially weak, but to embody and embrace a characterized scorn and torn twosome, the pair share a set ablaze with passion for accomplishment that oddly resembles Richard Chamberlain’s Allan Quartermain’s adventures sans the quirky comedic charm. Rockwood and Beck completely make up about 90 percent of the screen time as Gary Freedman, in his sole credit, dons the mysterious Castle owner and a local Canadian celebrity, a street performer, named Ben Kerr who only had to sit with his eyes open and act a corpse.

Modest as it was, “Beyond the Seventh Door’s” independent production couldn’t rival the end resulting magnitude of which the construction of the trap rooms and the characterization of the score would suggest a bigger wallet project, transforming that aforementioned simple story into a big ticket item. Behind the financial curtain is the responsible parties, the Herceg brothers Frank, Steve, and Tony and along with a fourth producer, Lubomir J. Novotny, Bozidar D. Benedikt gained the trust to pull off a no-budget thriller into a wild brain, catacomb horror that pre-dates the escape room element of “Cube” and Jigsaw’s lethally virtuous games. Now, I wouldn’t say “Beyond the Seventh Door” pioneered the genre, but merely had a minor influenced and sometimes that’s all it takes for inspiration.

Canada’s ambitious exploitation film “Beyond the Seventh Door” is now out for the first time every on DVD courtesy of InterVision Picture Corp., the sui generis distributor of rare independent genre films. Presented in a full screen 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the shot-on-video image quality retains an above VHS level quality with a clearer picture and refined details. BBlotchy moments are still prevalent, especially in long shots of Boris leaving the prison and walks along a cold path to the waterfront, but doesn’t kill the reflective moment. The audio 2.0 mono track has great clarity, range, and depth that showcases some of Lazar’s greatest lines of his hilariously read dialogue, such as “Screw you! You hear me, screw you!” The synthesized soundtrack emanates balanced LFE and range. There’s minor, but inconsequential, hissing during dialogued lines. Bonus features include audio commentary with director B.D. Benedikt, star Lazar Rockwood, and moderated by Paul Corupe of Canuxploitation.com. Also included are interviews with B.D. Benedikt, Lazar Rockwood, and Paul Corupe in a “Beyond Beyond the Seventh Door” segment and a look at Ben Kerr, a Toronto eccentric, in “The King of Cayenne” that delves into Kerr’s street performing life, his run for political office, and his overall love for a cayenne pepper cocktail. “Beyond the Seventh Door” is an anomalous, door-after-door misadventure with eccentric performances and an exceptional plot twist that only B.D. Benedikt could kook up and only Lazar Rockwood could pull off.

Own a copy of “Beyond the Seventh Door” today!

Sit Back. Relax. Let Evil Take You For a Ride. “The Glass Coffin” review!


Her night was supposed to be a wonderful occasion of celebration, a night to showcase her lustrous career as an established actress, a night where she was set to receive her crowning lifetime achievement award, but when the gowned Amanda stepped into a luxurious, fully-loaded limousine, the night that was to be a collective jubilee of the last twenty-years of Amanda’s life will be turned into a terror ride of unspeakable acts in the name of pure hatred. Once inside, the limousine’s inescapable locks detainee Amanda as a voice behind a voyeuristic camera commands her every subversive move and a sadistic chauffeur uses pain to thwart any of Amanda’s attempts of refusal in on an interrogation on four hellish wheels.

“The Glass Coffin,” aka “El ataúd de cristal” is a 2016 Spanish thriller from first time feature film director Haritz Zubilaga and co-written with Aitor Eneriz. From the moment Amanda steps into the limousine built like a tank, Zubilaga’s film goes from zero to sixty in a matter of minutes with thick tension and high horsepower suspense. “The Glass Coffin” is a depraved film. This isn’t a sugar-coated stuck in a glass box Hollywood thriller like “Phone Booth.” Oh no. Zubilaga and Eneriz hitch your emotions on a tow bar and drag them through the filthy muck without as so much of a care. Is this a game like Jigsaw would construct in “Saw?” No traps or snares here, but there’s an ominous shroud of mystery behind Amanda’s captor that could certainly give Jigsaw a run for his money. “The Glass Coffin,” in fact, goes more in tune with Joel Schumacher’s “Phone Booth” when considering the villain. Well, more like a Eurotrash, alternate version of “Phone Booth” antagonist anyway because aside from deriving the guilt and the sin from Amanda, there’s a sleaziness about the captor whose presence becomes more and more gothic the closer we learn more about them on top of their already extreme methods in the right-the-wrong stance.

Very similar to most films with a slim-to-no cast, like the Ryan Reynolds’ thriller “Buried, “The Glass Coffin” fits the bill as a one actor film. Paola Bontempi stars as the targeted starlet Amanda and the Canary Islands born actress musters enough courage to accept such a punishing role where her character’s humility and pride stems from a base layered motivation in not wanting to become the masked Chauffeur’s punching bag. Amanda goes from high time to gutter low in an ugly show of stripping moralities and ethics in order to reveal one true self. A pivot does occur, turning the shredding of facade into plain and simple revenge that becomes the flashy bullet points of European horror and Bontempi changes with it in one fluid motion of character revival and redemption.

The diabolical game is, well, diabolical and sincerely rich in providing an attractive story, but the film doesn’t go without it’s problems. Whether lost in the Spanish translation or just simply unexplained, an opaque mystery clouds Amanda’s captors, especially with the maniac Chauffeur and his bizarre relationship with the planning perpetrator, that puts a sour afterthought into analyzing “The Glass Coffin.” The Chauffeur was one realistic element of an intriguing conglomerate that tipped the ice berg of sinister deplorability and I was yearning for more of that; instead the game turned, the plot transformed, and “The Glass Coffin” took an approach that routed far into left field. Not a bad route to take as, like much of Zubilaga’s film, the moment had me at an astonished state as the film continued to keep me guessing what was going to occur next.

MVDVisual and Synergetic Films distributes the Basque Films production, “The Glass Coffin,” onto DVD home video. Short in giving any sort of physical or emotion breaks, the 77-minute runtime feature is presented in a vibrantly engrossing widescreen presentation and while at times soft on the auxiliary background, the image quality is flashy and sharp surrounding Amanda. Darker scenes in the tail end lose quite a bit of definition that makes eyeing the moment difficult to capture. The Spanish 2.0 stereo mix does the job and profusely invigorates the voice behind the camera, a voice made of nightmares and all that horrifying in the world. The English subtitles sync well, but I spotted a couple of typos along the runtime. There are zero extras on this release and even though a smidgen of behind-the-scenes material would have been curious to view, the film is a simple bliss. “The Glass Coffin” arches over the niceties and lands right smack into obscenity to destabilize integrity in a cruel ride of exploitation. I wanted more, the unfiltered, fully unadulterated, story of Amanda and her polar opposite antagonist, but I’ll settle for the Cliff Notes version. For now.

A Must See! “The Glass Coffin” to purchase at Amazon.com!

Jigsaw (aka Saw 8) trailer is here!


The trailer for this year’s Jigsaw (Saw 8) has arrived online! The San Diego Comic Con red band trailer promises to bring back the grisly games, the blood, and the terror. You can’t have Halloween without the Jigsaw Killer as the two of synonymous and expect Jigsaw, who was sorely missed over these passed few years, to ramp up his games this October 27th!

SYNOPSIS

One of the highest grossing Horror franchises of all time is back, taking the Jigsaw killer’s signature brand of twisted scenarios to the next level.

Cast: Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Clé Bennett, Hannah Emily Anderson, Laura Vandervoort (“Bitten”), Mandela Van Peebles, Paul Braunstein, Brittany Allen, Josiah Black

Directed by: The Spierig Brothers (“Undead” and “Daybreakers”)
Written by: Josh Stolberg & Peter Goldfinger
Produced by: Oren Koules, Mark Burg, Greg Hoffman

A Lionsgate release, Twisted Pictures presents, a Burg/Koules/Hoffman production.

Now, a Little Evil from Youtube: “We Love Our Monsters”

Teenage horror-throbs.  Young, dumb, and full of chum.