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Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki
If you'll indulge me, I first saw Evil Dead Trap back in the VSOM days. VSOM was Video Search Of Miami, a company that basically made duplicates of foreign movies you couldn't find in the western world, and I'm pretty sure I saw Evil Dead Trap on one of their cassettes, probably in a 4x3 ratio, and with no subtitles. I didn't understand it, but it sure was interesting. I felt I had better bone up with a re-watch before tackling Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki and luckily found it streaming on Amazon, and watched it literally the night before getting my screener for the sequel.
Seeing Evil Dead Trap in its proper aspect ratio with subtitles revealed it to be a nonsensical pastiche/homage to Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, with a shocking snuff scene, some style-above-substance set-pieces, and a truly loopy ending. I don't know that watching it before watching the sequel is at all necessary, except for the fact that it maybe lets you know who Hideki is, or what the idea of Hideki is, as the sequel takes the Hideki concept (if there is one) in a similar direction to the Tomie character. (I think?) In other words, Hideki is just a character (maybe?) that can appear in any story line, there really isn't any throughput as far as I can tell.
At any rate, Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki (1991) certainly represents cinema with a capital C, as we follow the story of Aki, (Shoko Nakajima) a lonely movie theater projectionist with a mysterious past and what seems to be a bad hobby. Aki is friends with Emi, (Rie Kondoh) an investigative reporter/personality for an evening news program. With the backdrop of a series of murder-mutilations plaguing their town, Aki and Emi pepper their unlikely friendship with a little competition over a super creepy dude, Kurahashi (the inimitable Shiro Sano). Who will win Kurahashi's heart (if he has one) and do they really want to? Will Aki (or you, the viewer) ever figure out who the also super creepy little boy is, who seems to be following her?
It may be best to put such hopes of understanding aside, in favor of sitting back and enjoying the bizarre ride, which throws notions of body image, friendship, pregnancy, and more into a blender set to stun. What stuns is the rapturous cinematography, coupled with a score composed, I believe, mostly with traditional koto music. Scenes of Aki wandering the city at night, bathed in neon, with lilting koto sounds suffusing the atmosphere, certainly raise director Izo Hashimoto's effort into the realms of the Art-house.
But never fear, because the Art-house is right next to the Cat-house and the Slaughterhouse, as both Aki and Emi engage in some pretty hot sex with Kurahashi, before people start ripping out intestines, splattering blood all over, and in a real fun scene running around while their hand flops about, held to the arm by a tendon or two. Yes, Evil Dead Trap 2 has it all! If it doesn't have as much as other more extreme Japanese horrors, that's made up for by production value. And, if it fails to make any sense no matter how hard you try to understand it, that will just lead you to multiple viewings, where the movie flops out before you anew each time, like a spreading pool of blood. Cautiously Recommended.
Evil Dead Trap 2 will trap you in its 1080p, AVC-encoded high-definition transfer, presented in a 1.85:1 ratio. Things look OK for a 30-year-old movie, with acceptable levels of detail for the most part. Colors are strong, saturated, and stylishly employed throughout. The movie is rather on the dark side, but black levels aren't terribly deep, and details within don't hold up as well as the rest of the image. The print used is clean and damage free, and doesn't appear to suffer from any significant transfer defects.
The Japanese language audio options come in the form of LPCM 2.0 Mono and LPCM 2.0 Stereo tracks, with English subtitles. The audio tracks are distortion free, and present the score exceptionally well. When the screaming starts, it gets loud! Overall, a fine, average presentation on the sonic side of things.
Extras are limited to those English Subtitles, a Photo Gallery, the Theatrical Trailer and a handful of other Unearthed Films Trailers, plus a Slipcover.
Unearthed Classics delivers Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki in a fine-looking and sounding Blu-ray package with not much more than the movie itself. The storyline has nothing to do with the first Evil Dead Trap other than sharing the name of a character (Hideki) that might be some sort of vengeful spirit maybe. Packed with Art-house style, hot, sleazy sex-action here and there, and some nice gory set-pieces, Evil Dead Trap 2 feels like something many J-Horror fans might need to check out to fill in gaps in their viewing history. It's confusing and engrossing, wonderful to look at, and presents the requisite amount of gore. If you haunted the Video Search Of Miami website to find rarities back in the day, this Unearthed Classics release is cautiously Recommended.