Monday, August 11, 2008

A Frank Review of "Hacked To Pieces" and "Evil Dead Trap"

I caught the documentary Hacked To Pieces: The Rise and Fall of Slasher Movies the other day. Don't do that. It's lame. Find an old VHS of "Terror in the Aisles," which is more broad and doesn't try to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Slasher movies have always been about erotic sadism, which helps to explain their modern successor, the "torture porn" of "Hostel" and "Captivity." Basically, the repressive 80's allowed misanthropes to vent their sexual frustration through the rapes and murders on celluloid. Those same cretins and their internet enabled progeny now just allow Hollywood to make up for the lack of production values in, say, a ZFX/Shockwave production. I'm not saying I'm above it (I did just reference an obscure BDSM house,) but if a documentary on the subject is required, it'll need more meat on its bones than this. Anyhow, the doc did remind me of an often mentioned but never seen by moi classic of the genre. I really must get around to "Sleepaway Camp," which looks pretty damned disturbing, and had some of the more interesting discussion surrounding it.

Final Kill Spoilt. Grisly.

J-Horror was below most everyone's radar back in 1988, but because the Japanese "Shiryo no wana" took advantage of the notorious title of a pair of Sam Raimi films, it hovered in my orbit for years. Like "Sleepaway Camp," I put off "Evil Dead Trap" way too long, and I hope the wait pays off as well next time.

"Trap" is a pretty great slasher movie in a largely undistinguished genre for the first reel. Within moments you see a "snuff film" involving injury to the eye that deals shame to Fulci, and will quickly inform whether it's in your interests to continue watching. The tape's viewer is the host of a late night show devoted to oddities, and she pressures her producer to allow her to investigate the matter. The slim cast is introduced, but they're all "types," and the formality is dispatched quickly.

So is much of the cast within the first hour, really paying off for gore fans. The dialogue fades off during the violent portions, which makes them far more effective than their American counterparts. The characters are reduced to animals, whining, screaming, and inciting a primal sympathy in the audience. When not being stalked and tortured, the kills are mercilessly efficient. This is neither party, nor disco, nor fooling around.

Well, that isn't entirely true. The music is almost straight out of Romero's "Day of the Dead," which always earns massive good will with me, even when played ad infinitum. Some of the lighting does evoke a rave, and I expect the "Evil Dead" in the title came from some goofy "camera as disembodied force" cloning. Also, we're down to the final girl at a remarkable clip, at which point the movie plods and is bogged down by the set up for a "twist" visible from miles out. You'd be best served just switching off the disc, but I suppose fast-forwarding to the out-of-the-box nuttiness that closes things out may be worth your while.

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