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I saw this one at the Midnight Madness screening in Toronto and I have
to say I was thoroughly entertained. Before the film the producer
mentioned he wanted to bring back an Amicus-style anthology film, which
it definitely captures the feeling of, however with a very
distinctively Japanese feel (most notably in Sean Cunningham's episode)
as well as a twinge of Cronenberg-style body horror.
It's great to see Ken Russell back shooting films for the big screen where he belongs and his episode is complete and total obsessive madness where you can tell that he had as much fun making it as I had watching it. Cannibalistic breasts may not be the subtlest of images, but if you go with it you'll have a blast.
The next episode is what might possible be the best and most experimental Sean Cunningham film ever made. Combining animation with some rather shocking scenes of necrophilia and traditional Japanese horror imagery, the episode is both surprising and creepy. It's quite bold and radical, entirely different from anything Cunningham has done before.
The Monte Hellman episode, that was lauded at Cannes, is a cool change of pace for the film, displaying a deep love of cinema history as well as adding a haunting twist to the mythology of the moving image.
And finally, the last episode from newcomer John Gaeta is an extremely well made body horror story that's based on a semi-true story (as we learned from the Midnight Madness Q+A) about a woman's fraternal link with her mother's tapeworm. This is one of the most original and interesting stories of the movie that features great concepts and imagery.
The Joe Dante directed wrap around segments are suitably amusing (even get a Dick Miller cameo) and it's fantastic as always to see John Saxon do his thing.
Writer and producer Dennis Bartok has been able to round up some of cinema's heroes and give them an opportunity to do something different. His screenplay is very consistent however in retaining a singular and entertaining voice between the different personalities of the directors.
This is the kind of film you should just sit back, relax and enjoy as a sometimes subversive, but always quirky trip into the genre. It seethes with pure adoration for the movies, without falling into forced reference-laden in-jokes.
I, for one, had a blast watching it.
All I can say is THANK GOD FOR NETFLIX!!! I'm the type of cinephile who
will buy a movie sight unseen if the filmmakers interest me or if it's
a horror film that sounds interesting. In that sense "Trapped Ashes"
fulfilled the criteria perfectly....
I realized recently though that I really am wasting money buying movies unseen so I signed up with Netflix figuring that I could rent new releases that appealed to me & if I liked em' I would purchase em'. "Trapped Ashes" was a movie I was dying to see. How could it go wrong?? Russell, Cunninngham, Dante, Hellman & Gaeta (The rookie of the 5) each directing a segment of a horror film?? It's gotta rock...Doesn't it?? It doesn't rock. It's actually pretty much a complete failure. It plays like one of those softcore "Horror" movies that used to play on Showtime in the late 80's thru the mid 90's. Aside from some so-so effects in the first segment there is nothing to recommend this disaster at all.
I returned it to Netflix on the same day I received it, Thankful for the money I saved by not purchasing it. Be warned...It sucks!!
I don't know why but I used to be a huge fan of Creepshow and Tales
from the crypt although the later series were rather lame. "Trapped
Ashes" is very much in this tradition and features 4 horror shorts
bound together in a surrounding plot of 2 couples and 2 solo people
going on a sightseeing on a Hollywood movie site and getting stuck in
an hold horror house with an old guy who leads them around. Turns out
they can only leave if each tells their most frightening personal
story... so here we go... Story 1 is about an actress who doesn't get
any new jobs and decides to get a boob job. Now after her life turns
around for the positive she soon realizes that her breast are vampire
boobies feeding on human blood which doesn't go to well for her lovers.
This story is pretty bizarre and trashy and captures the spirit of old
"Tales from the crypt" stories best. Its totally idiotic but the end is
so over the top its fun. Story 2 is a ghost-story about a couple moving
to Japan where the woman is seduced by a monk who dies and takes her to
hell where she turns into a succubus. Her husband soon learns he has to
free her from there by feeding her a spell. The story is OK, but as
frightening or thrilling as a Sesamestreet Episode. At least you get
some naked shots and some nice animation sequences of old Japanese
paintings which work pretty well. Story 3 is pretty much nothing
leading nowhere. An actor and his best friend a scriptwriter regularly
meet for chess until a girl appears. Soon the scriptwriter disappears
and the actor begins a love affair to find out years later that the
girl is some kind of ghost/witch/vampire... honestly I couldn't care
less because the episode is boring and makes no sense. Story 4 is
another strange one about a girl who grows up in her mothers womb along
with a tapeworm and lives with a strange desire for collecting food for
her "twin". When she is treated badly by her stepmother the "twin"
What most of the stories suffer from is incredibly long passages of introducing of characters and that is way stretched and often even unnecessary for the plod. So when the action starts most of the time is up and there is not too much time for the horror to happen. Like most of those story collections there is some bad apples in there and I couldn't recommend this average movie just for the vampire boobies and the finale. This is just for real die hard fans of horror shorts... the slow ghost movies won't be too interesting for neither "Tales..." Fans nor others because they don't lead nowhere. Too bad...
I went to see this solely on the basis that it was an anthology horror film. The best I can say about it is that if you are looking for a movie that will make you writhe in discomfort for a couple hours (which is what I was hoping for), this will probably do the trick. The first two stories have the combined effect of making you never want to have sex again. The fourth attempts (less successfully) to put you off both sex and food. The third is a bit of breather in that it has none of the grisly horror of the others and feels like a decent, thoughtful movie that was mistakenly put in the reel. The central narrative, unfortunately, is pretty dull. All of the stories together, while varying in tone, can be boiled down to one basic message: women should be feared. The movie on the whole is an admirable effort and there are certain images that will stay with you for all time either for their grossness or coolness (the breast surgery and the womb-cam in particular), but it does feel like it could have achieved a lot more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A group of tourists on a movie studio lot are locked in the House of
Horror and forced to tell 'true' ghost stories about themselves in
order to be released. The stories range from plastic surgery nightmares
Mysteriously, this film started filming shortly after Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted was released. . . but, I'll just chalk that up to coincidence. From some of the (former) great minds of horror that have brought us such horrors as Friday the 13th, Altered States, The Lair of the White Worm, The Howling, Piranha, Gremlins, The 'burbs, and. . . umm. . . Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out!. . . we're now given Trapped Ashes. It's anthology of four (plus wraparound) stories that vary in quality from the average 'Jibaku' to the pathetic 'Golden Breasts,' we're given quite an array of 'terrifying' tales. Like most anthologies, it's not so much the point of the stories. . . just the stories themselves. However, Trapped Ashes did manage to give a reason for the anthology, so kudos to that. As far as the stories go:
- The Girl with Golden Breasts: The idea was interesting, like Teeth, but with a different part of the female anatomy. There was some good, cringeworthy gore. . . but that's about it. The acting was amateurish, only accentuated by terrible dialogue (including my most hated error: outwardly spoken inner dialogue). As the story progressed, it became more and more ridiculous, resulting in an almost embarrassing conclusion.
- Jibaku: In hopes of classing up the film with some Asian flare, the next story headed to Japan. It's fairly disgusting as it studies some weird necrophiliac fantasies and the story is interesting, but it becomes a bit muddled as it goes through and is ultimately forgettable.
- Stanley's Girlfriend: The third tale, this one about the peril of deceit, is the 'classiest' of the bunch, utilizing mood & suspense more than outward horror. Unfortunately, in an attempt to be slow-burning, it ends up just being downright slow. It's not poorly made, just seems rather unimportant until the final reveal.
- My Twin The Worm: Uninvolving is probably the best word to describe this one. It was an interesting parasite-twin story. . . but, I didn't really care all that much and found myself easily distracted.
Although I didn't like the tales, I did like the idea for the wraparound. Unfortunately, an anthology made up of lame stories makes for a lame anthology. And, overall, that's what this film turns out to be: pretty lame. If you're heavy into anthologies, give it a look. . . but you can do much better.
Final verdict: 4/10.
The actress Phoebe Kane (Rachel Veltri) and her boyfriend Andy (Jayce
Bartok), the architect Henry (Scott Lowell) and his wife Julia (Lara
Harris), the former director Leo (John Saxon) and Nathalie (Michèle-
Barbara Pelletier) receive an invitation for a VIP Tour in the Ultra
Studios. When they see the spooky house where the missing director
Desmond Hacker filmed "Hysteria", they ask their tour guide (Henry
Gibson) to stop the car to visit the infamous house. In a moment, they
find that they are trapped in a room without any exit and the guide
suggests them to tell the scariest experience of each one like in
"Hysteria". Each one tells a spooky tale until they finally discover
the end of their stories.
"Trapped Ashes" follows the structure of "Creepshow" with a lead story and four segments in the format of "Tales from the Crypt". The lead segment is directed by Joe Dante and the motive why the participants disclose their stories is silly and unreasonable. Ken Russell directs the funny and bizarre "The Girl with the Golden Breasts" with the artificial breasts implanted by the actress sucking human blood. Sean S. Cunningham directs "Jibaku" with the journey to hell of Julia in Japan. Monte Hellman directs the erotic "Stanley's Girlfriend" and with sexy Nina performed by the gorgeous unknown Amelia Cooke affecting the relationship of two best friends. John Gaeta directs the gruesome segment "My Twin, The Worm". In the end, "Trapped Ashes" is a good entertainment despite the unfair reviews in IMDb. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Armadilha do Terror" ("Trap of Terror")
Note: On 17 January 2012, I saw this film again.
Remember all those British-produced anthology horror films that
sometimes made it to US theaters back in the 70s, but were more often
screened on Saturday late night or Sunday afternoon television? Stuff
like THE VAULT OF HORROR or TORTURE GARDEN or FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (or
TALES FROM THE CRYPT or TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS and on and on)?
TRAPPED ASHES is a heartfelt and enthusiastic (and largely successful)
attempt to revisit that kind of sometimes-serious, sometimes-funny,
sometimes-trashy scare flick.
Encompassing four short episodes and a wrap-around set in a deserted Hollywood studio tour's "haunted house," TRAPPED ASHES explores vampiric breast implants, horny spirits of suicidal Japanese monks, tapeworm twins, and the soul-sucking girlfriend of Stanley Kubrick. Some of the episodes are more successful than others, with the most confident probably being the "Stanley's Girlfriend" one, directed by the most decidedly NON-genre vet Monte Hellman. It's a really touching, elegiac little piece, full of imagination and a genuine love for the world of film. The other three stories - and the wraparound - are more traditionally horrific, but also very inspired in their mixture of sex, horror and a warped approach to the genre. The Ken Russell segment in particular, "The Girl with the Golden Breasts," had the audience in Toronto alternately laughing with glee or squirming in discomfort, leading to three audience casualties!
TRAPPED ASHES will appeal most to horror fans who are looking for a sometimes familiar, but definitely unique and twisted type of anthology genre film. Full of breasts, blood, great special effects, appearances by older actors like Henry Gibson, John Saxon, and a cool, "blink and you'll miss him!" cameo by none other than Dick Miller, it's a wonderful horror-movie debut for screenwriter Dennis Bartok and a great turn by all the veteran directors (and new director/vet f/x guy John Gaeta).
Highly recommended for a fun and old-fashioned-style scary time at the movies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A group of people on tour in an empty Hollywood studio back lot, beg
their driver to stop in & visit a famous house on the lot used by a
filmmaker from many years ago (who as we find out turned to satanism in
his later years) to film an anthology horror movie where trapped
strangers unable to find a way out of the house, were forced to tell
each other ghost stories in order to get out, we'll guess what happens
to these people once they get in the house?..anyways the elderly short
driver of the tour, tries to get them to tell a horror story, something
true that's happened in their real life, figuring it must be the only
way to get out of the house, I mean it worked in the movie right? At
first their a little hesitant, however they soon give in. Story #1 is
directed by filmmaker KEN RUSSEL (GOTHIC) this tale is told by a
gorgeous B movie actress, in which she relates the true story of what
happened to herself when she was struggling to be an actress but kept
getting turned down by filmmakers more interested in hiring big
breasted beauties than girls with smaller breasts that had more talent.
Deciding to get an operation to enhance her breast size she visits a
surgeon who promises that she will be satisfied with the results
following the operation & sure enough her career booms! with an
overabundance of B movie roles (most of the them are pure sleaze but
who cares as long as you're getting work right?) & a great new
boyfriend! soon she discovers that the breast implants are not only
big, but very hungry producing razor sharp teeth that like to feast on
the living flesh (no really I'm not making this up I swear it!) this is
perhaps the funniest story of the lot with Russel poking fun at B movie
actresses & their filmmakers more concerned with exposing the female
body of a big breasted beauty rather than hiring real acting talent for
their small budget projects, this tale was a delight & right on target
with it's many jabs. Story #2 directed by SEAN (FRIDAY THE 13TH)
CUNNINGHAM is told by a couple who think back to when they had marriage
problems visiting japan, where the wife meets a handsome, though
bizarre man who shows her a painting in another room & is later found
dead by her in a cemetery after he hangs himself. As it turns out, he
was a monk interested in all things involving the pits of hell & comes
back as a decaying zombie to seduce her at first & then take her back
to hell with him, making her one of the devils minions, while the
husband tries to save her. This is a bizarre story filled with
interesting visions & a woman having sex with a decayed corpse. The
film has many H.P. LOVECRAFT touches. Story #3 Directed by MONTE
(SILENT NIGHT DEALY NIGHT 3) HELLMAN, has an aging filmmaker telling
the tale of his meeting with a critically praised young film-maker many
years ago & finds they have the very same interests. They quickly
become friends, until one day his friend leaves after not talking to
him in over a month, leaving behind his seductive girlfriend who
quickly seduces his friend. Years later, following his friends death,
he discovers a horrifying secret of not only why his friend left him
without ever saying goodbye, but also who or rather what his old
girlfriend really was... & finally story #4 directed by one of the
special effects wizards of THE MATRIX series, has a woman recounting
the tale of her mother who gave birth to her & who grew along in her
mommy's womb with a tape worm she accidentally swallowed while eating
uncooked meat. The worm itself goes missing as the girl grows older,
but nonetheless continues to share a psychic bond with it & soon the
little girl is taken from her mother to live with her father & her
mother's former best friend who gets meaner & meaner with the girl who
calls upon the tape worm or rather "her twin" to take care of the
problem & of course which anthology series would be complete without a
twist ending? Fun, weird, horrific, sexy, though none to scary horror
yarn is far & away the best horror anthology to come out in many a
year! The film is well acted, directed, interesting & features a few
familiar genre faces such as DICK MILLER who plays a miserable looking
security guard in the wrap around (which JOE DANTE project would be
complete without Dick Miller?) JOHN (NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) SAXON &
many others provide horror fans with something fresh & far More
entertaining than most horror anthologies. A fun B movie ride in
tradition of TALES FROM THE CRYPT & CREEPSHOW don't miss this!
The film keeps to the spirit of comic book erotic horror. The four
stories are well matched and all good. It's a little bit sexy, but just
a tease (yes guys, you get to see nipples, more than you want).
It's a little bit scary, but in a fun, carnival way. Each story had something in it that got somebody to leave the theatre for a different reason, so don't be afraid that it's totally lame and tame. And only one of the people who had to leave the theatre was obviously a plant to drum up publicity.
Keep an eye out for tributes to genre classics.
This is what the Tales From the Crypt movie could have been.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tales from the Crypt like anthology of a group of people on a studio tour who get trapped in a "psycho" like house and tell ghost stories to escape. Of interest mainly for the directors involved-Joe Dante, Ken Russel, Sean Cunningham, Monte Hellman the film itself is a mixed bag. One story has to do with an actress getting her breasts done, another has to do with a Stanley Kubrick like director and an actor friend, Another has to do with a couple who go to Japan and discover a hanged man and the last has to do with a young woman and her twin..or something. Three of the four stories aren't bad, if over long. One (the girl and her twin) is just fair. The problem is the films don't really add up to much, more so that the sting in each tale is left for the very end of the film where we are told what really happened. Its a weird way to do it, and it almost works, but not quite since any tension from the stories are long gone by the final revelations (There is also a couple of lapses of internal logic as a result of the breaking apart.) Worth a look on a slow Saturday on cable. I do have to say that the Ken Russell "Girl with the Golden Breasts" tale is very amusing and a vast improvement over his direct to video home movies. I especially loved his cameo.
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