Trapped Ashes (2006)


Five tales of terror

Writer: Dennis Bartok
Director: Various

Trapped Ashes is a portmanteau horror movie that combines traditional structure with a variety of non-traditional stories and lots of tits. Different sections are directed by different people but Dennis Bartok is the sole credited writer.

The framing story for the anthology (‘Wraparound’ directed by Joe Dante) involves a a group of six people on a tour of a Hollywood studio. During the tour they persuade the guide (played wonderfully by Henry Gibson) to let them explore the haunted house set used for a famous horror movie. Once inside they become trapped and begin to tell each other their personal scary stories.

There are four vignettes within the film. The first – and weirdest – is ‘The Girl With The Golden Breasts’. In this a struggling actress (Phoebe – Rachel Veltri) decides to have breast augmentation surgery. Unfortunately the experimental technique leaves her with bloodsucking breasts. Yes, honestly – vampire tits! Obviously this provides an excuse for plenty of boob shots. Given the subject matter the choice of Ken Russell as director might seem natural. Unfortunately the story’s clearly meant to be funny and humour was never Russell’s strong point; he also fails to bring any of his trademark strengths to this piece.

Story two is probably the best. ‘Jibaku’, directed by Sean S. Cunningham, involves an American woman in Japan who is seduced by a dead monk and taken into the underworld. The story is a little weak however there is some really interesting use of graphics and animation. Oh, and there are some more boob shots.

Story three, ‘Stanley’s Girlfriend’ directed by Monte Hellman, is by far the worst. A young film director becomes romantically attached to and obsessed with a very sexy girl. It’s clear from the nature of the film that the ‘girl’ must be something special but we don’t get told this until a dull ‘reveal’ at the end of a very long and tedious sequence. The main point of this segment seems to be as a tease; although the girl gets undressed a lot we never quite see her breasts.

The fourth and final story is ‘My Twin, The Worm’ directed by John Gaeta. This abandons naked flesh in favour of the ‘yeuch’ factor: a pregnant woman also has a tapeworm in her womb, making the tapeworm her daughter’s ‘twin’. This story actually had potential but suffers from pacing problems.

In fact that’s true of all four stories: they are way too slow getting started. In a vignette like these you need to get to the core of the story quickly, not drag things out until the viewer is losing interest.

Finally we get the wrap up. Here we learn a twist for each tale and get the traditional ending straight out of the Amicus playbook. Which you probably worked out at the very beginning.

So despite the presence of some big name directors, Trapped Ashes fails because of the slow, poorly constructed stories. Given the abundance of blood and boobs (which I’m not averse to) I suspect the target audience is probably straight males around twenty who are drinking a few beers.

Since I’m over twenty five and watched it sober I can only give it two stars.