Hell's Trap (1990)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2012-05-15 21:36

Written by: Pedro Galindo III, Santiago Galindo
Directed by: Pedro Galindo III
Starring: Pedro FernŠndez, Edith GonzŠlez and ToŮo Mauri

Reviewed by: Brett Gallman

"Listen to me, you kids--you are not going on a normal hunting trip..."

Good news--if youíve ever wondered what it would look like if Rambo ever headed to Mexico to carve up witless vacationers with Freddy Krueger-inspired gear, then Hellís Trap will provide the answer. It wonít exactly be the most entertaining response to a question that no oneís ever asked (besides yours truly), but itís a goofy bit of fun hailing from south of the border. Typically, getting caught in a hellish trap down in Mexico involves bad water and a case of Montezumaís Revenge, but, in this case, it means youíre stuck with awesome perm-mullets, mustaches, and a bunch of dead idiots.

Of course, said idiots start out as live idiots. Two of them in particular are a couple of competitive guys who take paintball way too seriously; however, to up the ante, they decide to engage in a real manís competition: bear hunting. Apparently, a rouge bear has been chewing up nearby tourists, so the two head out to see who can kill the beast first. With their buddies and girlfriends in tow, they head out to the woods, only to discover that thereís no homicidal bear lurking; instead, a maniacal, razor-gloved Vietnam vet has taken refuge and has a penchant for killing anyone who intrudes.

Though the filmís villain wears a familiar looking razor glove, Hellís Trap takes its cue from stuff like Friday the 13th, as itís a quick, 75 minute jaunt into the woods that eventually ends with a pile of mutilated corpses. Itís not a particularly great one, but Galindo does manage to nicely photograph the eerie, woodsy surroundings. As far as this stuff goes, itís a slight bit of a slow burn that hits all of the usual points, such as spooked locals and the discovery of human remains before the baddie shows up. The typical undercurrent of slasher silliness is on display, too, as the cast of characters are especially absurd. Our hero is Nacho (he of the spectacularly permy-mullet), who has the requisite fat, goofball buddy and a doting girlfriend. His antagonist is an arrogant and stupid sort, and he also has an assistant and a girlfriend who fortunately round out the body count. These guys are uber-confident and ooze machismo--they donít even blink an eye when a local arms dealer (!) insists theyíll need a machine gun for their trip. Nothing says ďyouíre doomedĒ like refusing to take semi-automatic weapons on a vacation to the woods.

Then again, this might have been an even shorter movie had they heeded such advice. We also would have missed out on some fairly decent bloodletting. While you wonít find any outlandish gore displays, the deaths are effectively grisly. Obviously, the killer gets some mileage out of his Freddy glove, which he uses to slash his victims across the face and throat. The villain is somewhat interesting, as he also wears a mime mask thatís somewhat reminiscent of Michael Myers (for whatever reason, he inexplicably removes it in a climactic scene, seemingly only to yell at the camera). A long-haired, shaggy woodsman, heís a survivalist thatís rigged the woods full of traps; he also growls a lot, so I can totally see how locals have mistaken him for a bear.

The only apparent reason for his bloodlust is that Vietnam drove him crazy, but when did you ever need an elaborate excuse to kill a bunch of amateur actors on-screen? Luckily, the body count is robust enough, plus it takes a different turn than most slasher climaxes; instead of having a nubile, scantily-clad girl running from the psychopath, this one devolves into a shoot-em-up survival/action flick thatís probably a little bit more sluggish than it should be. Getting to that point is enjoyable and brisk enough, but you wonít find much here that you havenít seen before.

Had Hellís Trap not featured a maniac wearing a murder implement reminiscent of the Springwood Slasher, it likely would have never landed on my radar. I donít regret that it did, for what itís worth (if anything, it put another Mexican horror notch on my belt). To check it out, track down volume one of BCIís ďHorror from South of the BorderĒ collection, where youíll find it with five other movies, including the infamous Donít Panic. Hellís Trap looks and sounds fine considering the budget pack origins--certainly a step above VHS, but not quite fully remastered, the transfer is crisp and vibrant, while the sound is clear. Unfortunately, this set isnít as much of a bargain as it used to be, as itís gone out of print; youíll likely have to pay close to 20 bucks for it, which still isnít bad for six movies. Cautious viewers might want to wait and see if this pops up on Netflix, even if it is likely the best Mexican re-imagining of First Blood as a slasher flick youíll ever see. Rent it!

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