Today we head back to Japan to take a look at one of the most infamous clips from Toshiharu Ikeda's 1988 slasher film Evil Dead Trap. Needless to say, this title doesn't feature an appearance from Bruce Campbell, nor does anyone read from The Necronomicon. Instead, Ikeda's film is a mean-spirited and sleazy slasher flick that clearly draws inspiration from the cinema of Dario Argento, with nods to the films of Cronenberg and Frank Henenlotter tossed in to the third act. It has an "out of left field" conclusion, but for two acts, Evil Dead Trap is one of the coolest slasher flicks I've ever seen. It's gory and violent and features a wealth of classic murder scenes. We'll be discussing the best of the bunch in just a moment.
Before we do that, here's what the film is about: When late night talk show host Nami (Miyuki Ono) gets a videotape submission for her program, she pops it into the VCR to see what one of her fans has sent her. What she discovers is far more than she'd bargained for-the tape contains footage of an Asian woman being brutally murdered in an abandoned building.
Choosing a death scene from Evil Dead Trap is really a no-brainer, because the film opens with a murder so disturbingly brutal that everything that comes in its aftermath seems almost quaint in comparison. The snuff film-esque slaughter of a young Asian woman featured on the tape Nami receives at the beginning of the film is the stuff of gore film legend. This isn't to say that the rest of Evil Dead Trap's kills are somehow lacking--it's just that Ikeda sets the bar so high on his first one that the rest are never quite as shocking in comparison.
The sequence opens with a young Asian woman bound to a wall. Everything's shot from her assailant's perspective, with his sharp knife constantly in the foreground. As he slices off her bra, Ikeda cuts back to Nami, who mutters "again, this kind of video", but she keeps watching.
The scene jumps back to the videotape, where Nami then learns it's not "this kind of video" at all, but something entirely different. The killer slides his blade into his victim's thigh--a shot Ikeda films in loving close-up. That's just the warm-up, though, as the killer removes the blade, grabs his victim by the head, and pulls her forward--forcing his blade directly into her eyeball. The ocular mayhem on display here would have made Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti squeal like 12-year-old girls at a Jonas Brothers concert. The blade punctures an obviously fake eyeball, and liquid shoots everywhere before the killer slices his way out by going up and through the girl's eyelid. The best part of this moment is the way Ikeda builds the tension--you see the knife reflected in the eye before the stabbing, and the insertion is done in a very slow and deliberate fashion. It seems obvious that Ikeda drew inspiration from the Olga Karlatos splinter-in-the-eye sequence in Fulci's Zombi.
From that point on, it's all downhill. The killer finishes his victim with some well-placed slices, but we don't really see them in any kind of detail. It doesn't matter--there's no way Ikeda would have topped the eyeball piercing in the first place.
Check out the clip and see for yourself. If you're curious about the rest of Evil Dead Trap, it's readily available on DVD.