SEVEN STRANGERS ARE TRAPPED INSIDE AN INFAMOUS 'HOUSE OFHORROR' DURING A HOLLYWOOD MOVIE STUDIO TOUR & ARE FORCED TOTELL THEIR MOST TERRIFYING PERSONAL STORIES TO GET OUT ALIVE. THESE ARE FIVE STORIES OF THE SURREL, EROTIC... more » & TERRIFYING DIRECTED BY FIVE OF HOLLYWOOD'S MOST UNIQUE FILMMAKERS.« less
A real jewel for the horror fan. I thought Joe Dante has the terror tale.
Good In Bits
Paul Ess. | Holywell, N.Wales,UK. | 07/27/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
'Trapped Ashes' is a 'horror' anthology with each episode cut by a different director. There's an awful lot of sex on show, but not much original, inventive horror, and the main reason for this is a limp and gawky script by the otherwise fabulously named Dennis Bartok.
You know Ken Russell's segment isn't going to be out and out gore, but a glance at his back-catalogue reveals the guy's no stranger to extreme imagery, and as you'd expect, his piece is the most successful. 'The Girl With The Gold Breasts' makes the most of a weak conceit, and it's to Russell's great credit that he turns such an uneventful story into something so watch-able; A wannabe Hollywood actress, undergoing a routine cosmetic procedure, receives vampire breasts. When she complains, we get to see Russell and two other old guys, dressed in very disturbing drag, eventually revealing they have splendid vampire breasts as well! That's it. It's funny, quite bizarre, and you're left scratching your head a bit afterwards. 'TGWTGB' shows Russell's imagination is as warped and impish as ever, and an interview on the 'special features' reveals him to be cheerfully demented.
The other three films are no-where near as solid. Sean S. Cunningham's is a kind of live-action/Manga hybrid set around a Buddhist temple with plenty of sex as you'd expect, but not much chills. Monte Hellman's piece seems to be a thesis on why Kubrick left for Europe in the 60's; his girlfriend was a witch apparently. The final story by John Gaeta, an fx man, about a goth's relationship with the tape-worm she was forced to share her mother's belly with, has at least the embryo (apologgys droogies) of a good idea, but the climax is so obvious it falls straight off the screen.
Joe Dante does the linking story, and apart from a customary cameo by Dick Miller, it goes absolutely nowhere. The 'twist' is the kind of post-modern nonsense that gets contributed to druggie art-school rag-mags. I'm all for wracking my brain if there's payola at the crunch, but it just doesn't happen. It's no help that the acting is so sluggish and one-dimensional either, you don't care if anyone dies or not.
Unfortunately, apart from Russell, it's all a bit of a slider. Needs a much more subversive and troubled writer to get the best out of these guys. 3 stars for Lionsgate giving Ken Russell work and putting the British Film Industry to shame, but it's a generous 3."
T. R. Rak | 11/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fan of cinematic horror anthologies in the spirit of "Cat's Eye," "Trilogy of Terror" and "Asylum," to name a few of the better crafted examples of this subgenre, you won't be disappointed by "Trapped Ashes."
To start, the title of the film itself evokes haunting memories of "Burnt Offerings," so - gentle viewer - it should come as no spoiler to you that the four "guests" (including couples) compelled to tell the stories of their "WORST TRUE LIFE NIGTMARE" in order to escape from a Hollywood set-piece haunted house, as "hosted" by the always quirky but oddly avuncular "tour leader" Henry Gibson (best remembered for his memorable performance in Robert Altman's "Nashville"), well ... suffice to say that they are NOT going to be able to successfully "sing for their salvation" under ANY circumstances. They're doomed from the moment they set foot in the old Norman-Bates-like "hotel." In fact, they were doomed BEFORE they entered. But why? Clue: There is a karmic, cyclical element inherent in their collective damnation. But! No spoilers here, fans. Just watch! Carefully.
Each of the guests, to put it mildly, gives "bizarre" a whole new semantic, as evidenced by their "believe it or not" tales of ultra-steamy demonic sex, parasitic mammary implants, embryonic, alienated [and "twisted"] twin sisters, and true friendship sabotaged by nothing less than a modern-day succubus. What fun!
I was delighted to see directorial efforts from the always-over-the-top likes of veteran genius Ken Russell; steady-state solid work from the indelibly dependable horror maven Joe Dante; and most surprisingly of all (at least for this reviewer), I found director Sean Cunningham's exploration (and exploitation) of "unconventional Oriental eroticism" to be the MOST fascinating and original of all five of the vignettes (the "wrap around" story included), a story so unique and so stimulating (in more ways than one), that you've never seen it before but you will WANT to see MORE of this "labor-of-love (and lust)" style of late-nite tale telling. "Jibaku" (which is Japanese for [loosely translated], "I sacrifice my own mortal life for you so that you will have to sacrifice, in turn, YOUR mortal life for me [with the implication being: Because it's the ONLY way we're going to be able to be together until the end of time!]") is - at worst - a selfish love story with a horrific twist; at best, it's a poignant tale of two terminally lonely people who "come together" (under extremely tenebrous circumstances), a respectably attractive American lady on vacation (with her less than sexually-fulfilling husband) and a handsome young Japanese "monk" tormented by the insanity-inducing life of a monastery, where eroticism of ANY kind is strictly verboten. I actually cried when I watched this particular vignette from the immensely talented Cunningham (a revelation considering he came from "Friday the 13th" roots), such was its overpowering haunting effects upon me. Kudos all around then, but especially to Sean Cunningham for his amazingly, global-minded exploration of "the inhuman condition," no matter where in the world one happens to find themselves.
Without dragging this review out beyond the attention span of ANY potential viewer, just RENT (or buy) "Trapped Ashes" for a stormy night's satisfying fulfillment of lust, bent love, greed, terror, suspence, a bit of the old "gross out," but principally - five excellent pieces of macabre fiction suited for those who just can't get enough of this kind of anthologized mesmerism. Catch "Trapped Ashes" if you can. It won't give you nightmares fortunately (nobody wants those), but it will make you smile ... crookedly, and leave you guessing as to the fate (and its raison d'etre) of the ill-fated "tour go(n)ers."
Kudos to Henry Gibson as well, for acting as the "little bit too innocent looking" old man, leading the guests through a a house and a night they'll never forget, nor ever seem to remember either, as they repeat it over and over and over again. But wait! Have I said too much already?
Stop me now before *I* become the next victim of a 6th vignette, and the FIFTH guest gory-story weaver in "Trapped Ashes." Just See It, dear fans! Enough said."
Twister Tour of Movie Horror
Harold Bachman | Seattle, WA | 08/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're looking for yet another by-the-numbers "torture porn" exercise, then stay away. But if you're looking for a really smart tour of the twisted minds of five very different directors with very different signatures, then definitely check out TRAPPED ASHES.
It takes the horror anthology film structure, and the notion of different storytellers, to tell some very insanely creepy stories. The difference in styles/tones is perfect and refreshing because each ghastly tale is told by someone different: different sexes, different ages. I really loved Monte Hellman's realistic 1950's jazz take on Dennis Bartok's tale, fusing a legendery sexy vampire with the lore of Stanley Kubrick. Ken Russell's entire history is on display in his wacky, wierd, and perverse opener. And for those who find it a plus -- there's nudity. I was also very impressed with FX master John Gaeta's tale of a tapeworm festering not only inside a little girl, but inside her family. Really memorable, eerie images in this one. And the whole film is nicely bracketed by a unique "studio tour" wraparound.
Check out TRAPPED ASHES and use it not only to witness a truly unique horror film, but also as a primer to then explore the feature-length careers of cult cinema giants Hellman, Russell, Cunningham, Dante and the impressive new kids on the block -- Gaeta, and writer Bartok."
NOT SCARY AT ALL
S. D. | Omaha, Nebraska | 07/23/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I took a chance and rented this one. I figured that with 4 individual short films in this thing, at least 1 or 2 of them would be scary. Was I wrong! 4 short films and nothing scary about any of them. I should have known. After all, when was the last time you saw anything good with John Saxon or Henry Gibson in it? Well, don't expect much from this one either. At least not as far as good scary horror moments go.
However, if you're looking for lots of nudity, this is definitely worth a look. I think there were topless women in just about every one of the short stories. The puzzler though is: when did directors start thinking that topless women make for a good scary movie? Entertaining to watch, maybe. But scary? I don't think so.
Save your time. Save your money. Check out something else instead of this lemon. I'm sorry I wasted MY time, that's for sure!"
WHAT 'MASTERS OF HORROR' SHOULD HAVE BEEN
DivaHerHighness | Glendale, CA | 08/03/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"TRAPPED ASHES is a wild and weird throwback to the deliciously delirious days of horror anthologies, the kind Amicus Productions specialized in with titles like TORTURE GARDEN and TALES FROM THE CRYPT.
Written and co-produced by Dennis Bartok, former film programmer for Hollywood's acclaimed American Cinematheque, TRAPPED ASHES features five true horror masters. The movie gleefully acknowledges its Amicusian roots while boldly going down horror and black comedy roads the old anthologies feared to tread.
The set up and wrap-around directed by Joe Dante is simplicity itself: a group of strangers are doing a VIP tour of a studio back lot hosted by the lovingly creepy Henry Gibson. They find themselves trapped in a much too real movie set where the only way out (or is it?) is by telling scary stories; but these are tales with a terrible twist: they have to be real.
Genre bending master Ken Russell is at his - um, [...] - in a tale about monstrous mammary enhancement called "The Girl with the Golden [...]". Watch for a horrifying cameo by Ken himself in a bad wig and badder lipstick.
Sean S. Cunningham directs "Jibaku", a bit of demented Japanese horror concerned with gory sex and eternal damnation.
The great Jon Saxon stars in "Stanley's Girlfriend" directed by Monte Hellman about a filmmaker named "Stanley" who looks an awful lot like the guy who made FEAR AND DESIRE. It's a very classy segment about being careful what you wish for, peppered with a bit of witchcraft.
First time director John Gaeta, who did the FX for films like THE MATRIX, helms "My Twin, the Worm" about a mother-to-be and an unhuman baby that literally drives her mad.
A bottle of full-bodied extras holds deleted scenes, filmmakers and cast commentary tracks, director's cuts of Hellman's and Russell's segments, and fun "making of" featurettes of all the episodes with the talent and the directors.
TRAPPED ASHES is a cool and scary ride well worth the ticket price.