Jungle Trap – Blu-Ray Review

Jungle Trap is a film by James Bryan, whose best-known film would be the slasher movie Don’t Go in the Woods. Bryan has a certain cult fan base, having also made Lady Street Fighter. He made these low-budget movies alongside porn (under an alias), and this is one that he shot on video in 1990 but it then lay undiscovered until 2015. Then Bleeding Skull stitched it together to perform a rescue, and added a synthy score that’s probably better than what it would have originally had.

There’s always something weird about films shot on video, especially now – Jungle Trap looks like shit, but has been released on Blu-Ray, which is crazy. It just feels like something from a different era, almost like you’re not supposed to see it. Obviously, everything about it is kind of atrocious. It’s supposed to be taking place in the Amazon jungle, but while it might not literally be Bryan’s backyard, it’s definitely not the Amazon.

Bryan’s films are horrendously written, with completely baffling plots and a lack of logic. Jungle Trap is a bit more coherent, but not by much. It’s about a group of people who end up together in a sort of haunted hotel in the middle of the jungle. There’s a violent tribe outside the hotel, where someone was also murdered. Dr. Christine Carpenter (Renee Harmon) has come to the location in search of an artifact. This is punctuated by ghosts and decapitations, all following a script that is absolutely bizarre, landing characters in scenarios that sometimes resemble a porno—and that’s not surprising given the director’s history in that medium alongside making this kind of exploitation fare. Harmon was a truly awful German actress who made three films with Bryant.

But while it’s schlock, Jungle Trap is the most enjoyably incoherent film by Bryan that I’ve seen. You can see them squeezing every dollar dry until there’s nothing left. It’s all backyards and basements, and boy, you can tell. It could be a good gateway drug to pull people into the weird world of films shot on video—from here, you can move on to things like Redneck Zombies.

The director had no idea what he was doing, but it’s fun. Imagine a mishmash of a porno, The Fog and The Shining—on a budget of $10—and you get the general idea. He also made a massive mistake—given that Bryan’s most famous film was called Don’t Go in the Woods, what should they have called this one…?

The disc includes a second film, Run Coyote Run. That one is possibly the most incoherent movie ever made (compared to this guy, Ed Wood was a genius). Again starring Harmon (who also wrote the script), it’s about a psychic cop working for Interpol. She’s on the track of a killer. That sounds like a film with a plot, but it’s actually bits and pieces of other films Bryan made with maybe 15 minutes of extra footage. The footage spans a decade so there’s no consistency, and it just makes no sense. It’s almost an unintentional Burroughs cut-up movie.

The two features are accompanied by the retrospective featurette It Wasn’t My Fault: The Making of Jungle Trap with Bryan, actress Heidi Ahn, and actor Frank Neuhaus; four-plus minutes of outtakes, and some 35mm footage from an unfinished Bryan film, Horror Con.

Ian Schultz

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