Saturday, September 15, 2012

REVIEW: Trapped Ashes (2006)

In continuation of Sexual Body Horror Month (yes, it’s a month-long theme now with Teeth and Rock n' Roll Frankenstein, and now this), I had nothing more interesting to look at and so I chose Trapped Ashes, an anthology horror film about as scary as having to stand in line at the post office for a few extra minutes. It’s really pretty damn boring, and the fact that they had five stories and NONE of them any good just shows what kind of incompetence we’re dealing with here. So, who’s ready for a bad movie with five times the “fun”? Not me…

Director: Several big name horror directors like Joe Dante and Sean S. Cunningham, among others...SERIOUSLY WHAT?
Starring: Boobs that eat people

The movie kicks off with some introductions to our characters as they’re taking some Hollywood tour, comprised of a married couple, a non-married couple, some girl who looks like Wednesday Addams and a Boris Karloff lookalike. These introductions are all very rushed and mostly could’ve just been replaced with a white piece of cardboard with “CHARACTER INTRODUCTIONS” written on it. You don’t really get anything substantial. I do love how the tour guide played by Henry Gibson talks about preserving the integrity of Hollywood while acting in Trapped Ashes, though – that’s a laugh if there ever was one.

Seeing as Henry Gibson has been around since the very first movie ever made, I guess he's entitled to his opinions

They all decide they want to go into this old haunted house that’s restricted access, so like a good tour guide the skinny old guy just lets them do it. I mean who cares, right? It’s only an off-limits part of the tour that could cost him his job! Totally not a big deal AT ALL. They go inside and unfortunately do not get killed off in the first few minutes, so we’re pretty much stuck with them.

"Hi, I'm Owen Wilson Lite. Nice to meet you. Care to listen to me being lame?"

They do, however, get stuck in this room that, apparently, this crazy director used to lock his actors in until they were done working for the day and they couldn’t leave unless he let them – because I’m sure THAT went over well with the actors, right? And I bet their agents were just thrilled by such tactful and fair directing manners!

I just love how angry these tourists get when they’re locked in, even though THEY ALL AGREED to come in in the first place…gee, it’s almost like tourists are just generally petty, impudent assholes or something. The skinny old man tour guide tells them to start telling scary stories to one another and maybe then they’ll get out. The amount of sense being made in this is just staggering. I almost can’t even take it! So they agree and the first story is about a girl with boobs that eat people – yes, really.

So now we get to the main reason I’m even doing this movie – this friggin’ story. Apparently one of the girls, a young actress, got turned down for one role, yes, one role, and decided to get breast surgery to see if that would help her get any better parts. So after just one rejection she’s that messed up over it? Gee. I’d hate to see what would’ve happened after four or five…seriously, rejections are very common in any kind of creative field. If you can’t take it, then you’re not cut out to do it in the first place. Maybe this girl’s talents would have better suited for something with less chance of heartbreaking failure – like a Starbucks coffee barista.

So anyway, yeah, she starts having sex with some idiot and this happens to him:

This is just one of those moments where you can pinpoint this actress's career dying. Just listen to it wither. I mean how desperate do you have to be to take a role like this?

He thinks it’s bug bites for some reason, because yeah, THOSE look like bug bites! What a genius. I hope he shares a long and prosperous relationship with this girl and really imparts his wisdo----


Oh. Well OK then.

She goes and tries to find the guy who did it in the first place, but finds out that he’s dead, and instead is faced with these three characters, who are never introduced or given any kind of explanation:

OK, that's it, somebody needs to take a belt to whoever green-lighted this image. Whoever it was clearly was not disciplined enough as a child.

They say they’re trying to make humans immortal because, and I’m quoting verbatim here, “why should people have to die?” If this was any other movie, perhaps a film of more merit, I would go into detail on how stupid THAT question is, but for this? Nah. Not worth it…but seriously, they’re trying to accomplish immortality by implanting fake blood-sucking breasts onto young women? Hmmm, yup, that IS the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! Congratulations Trapped Ashes! You win!

I mean really? Do I really have to review the rest of the movie now? I don’t think I can top this one. It’s just too much! Nothing in the rest of these stories can possibly beat this for ridiculousness! On another note though, let's see how much fame that girl's fake boobs brought her! Oh man, I bet she got all the big name roles after THAT! I bet she...

Oh. That was only the second movie she ever did and everything since has been TV appearances and shorts that weren't even big roles at all...hrmm...hum...awkward.

So the story pretty much just ends with the realization that she’s screwed for life and stuck with man-eating boobs, and in the present time she just covers them up now when she has sex – something that her current boyfriend just goes along with because he’s a friggin’ idiot, I guess…and here we have the main problem with the film. All of these stories are just dull as hell because they center around people in the room in the movie’s present time, so where’s the danger from that? We know they don’t die or anything, seeing as they’re obviously still around telling the story, so…where’s the incitement to care? Mostly these stories just come off as annoyances rather than legitimately scary or tense. And that’s never the way to go.

So, what, the next story is set in Japan and involves a woman getting involved with some monk who kills himself and goes to Hell. She then visualizes herself having sex with him and the movie turns into a weird porno – so, basically, it turns into a stereotypical Japanese film.

After that she disappears and her husband goes to save her. He has to go in this cave and put a tiny piece of paper in her mouth. Why do I get the idea this is just how the monks get their kicks, playing tricks on stupid tourists? The film then turns into basically a horrible anime styled thing, and honestly, have you ever seen something so utterly valueless in your entire life?

I...I Just no.

I guess they make it out OK, if you really gave a shit, but it’s really frigging hard to do that. This story ends up just being a big pile of nothing with no redeeming features or even anything entertaining or atmospheric. Snore…

Next story involves the Boris Karloff lookalike when he was young and looked like something out of a 1920s Depression-era period piece. Apparently in the past he made friends with some guy named Stanley, and they had a bromance that bordered on homoerotic quite fancifully until…

It’s OK, Karloff lookalike – he’s just in denial. He’ll come around to you one day.

Anyway, they play chess and stuff and the girlfriend just hangs all over Stanley without any regard for politeness or anything – they even make out right in front of him, because yeah, that’s totally not a dick move or anything. In polite society it’s just common nature to make out randomly in front of company you just invited over.

Then Stanley disappears and Karloff lookalike is stuck alone with her for like a day, in which he turns into a mindless slave and stops doing work and everything. What a pussy. Eventually she just disappears and he moves on with his life until years later when he gets a videotape from Stanley telling him that the girlfriend was a vampire.

And I’m not even kidding – that’s the whole story. No resolution to anything, no final showdown with the vampire lady, no real action at all. How do you even do this to a story? Don’t most writers at least try to come up with something big to end a story? This literally has nothing to it – I guess the stranglehold of having to have the main character alive at the end really castrates most horror stories, a fact to which this movie is a big testament. I mean, I don’t really need some big Hollywood-esque overblown explosion-fest, but anything would be better than the amount of non-conflict this story has! Is it even really a proper story with so little resolution or conflict or tension?

Ugh, forget it; one story left and then I’m finally done with this…

The last story is told from the perspective of an unborn child in her mother’s womb – I wish I was kidding. Can’t I just end the review now and not go any further with this one? Well, I wish, but unfortunately this is like a big car wreck – really hard to stop paying attention to entirely.

So we get the story that the mother ate some bad meat and, when she got pregnant, ended up with a parasitical worm inside her womb with the baby – not sure that’s even possible, but hey, why not. Apparently the father runs off with one of his wife’s friends, because that’s the sign of a good human being, and the narration informs us that the baby in the womb made friends with the worm.

A few years later, the mother goes crazy and becomes an invalid – I guess it was just delayed shock. So the girl is sent to live with her father and his new wife, who is mean to her and gets mad at her, quite reasonably actually, for hiding food around the house to feed to her wormy friend, who is never seen. One night the girl sics her worm friend on the stepmother and it goes inside her vagina, providing us with this lovely image:

Let’s just recap this for a minute – this final story wasn’t even really about anything but indigestion and bowel movements caused by bad meat. We’re ending this anthology movie on gaseous stomach pains. Isn’t that such a fitting metaphor?

So it turns out, in a big twist I guess, that they all told their stories wrong and are either dead or have committed much worse crimes than they thought. The girl with the maneating boobs actually murdered the boyfriend character who has appeared to be with them the whole time, the husband and wife who got trapped in a bad hentai are actually both dead, and the Wednesday Addams chick actually murdered both her father AND stepmother…it really doesn’t make much sense, and mostly just comes off like the writer smoked too much bath salts and just came up with something random. I mean I seriously don’t even get it. Were they dead the whole time? It’s really not clear at all and I’m not even angry so much as exasperated at how incompetent this all is. Sheesh…

The movie ends with the old guy, who is really the crazy director who used to lock people up in the house with no way of escaping (glad Hollywood does such thorough background checks on their tour guides), giving another trolley tour, and this time adding in the random, pointless stories from this film to his anthology. I can only imagine the conversations among the tourists on this trolley ride:

“Gee, those stories sound like shit.”

“Yeah, seriously. I hope they don’t make a movie out of that bullshit. That would just be a drag.”

“I know. That would be the worst thing ever.”

“Whoever would do that should just be removed from the gene pool immediately. He should have his nuts chewed off by an angry gopher in heat.”

“If we agree on nothing else, let us agree on this.”

The pictures in this review are not mine, they are copyright of their original owners.