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Trapped Ashes (DVD Review)

15 Jun, 2008 By: Matt Miller

Trapped Ashes

Prebook 6/18/08; Street 7/15/08
Horror, $26.98 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images and language.
Stars Jayce Bartok, Amelia Cooke, Lara Harris, Ryo Ishibashi, Scott Lowell, Luke Macfarlane, Michele-Barbara Pelletier, Tahmoh Penikett, Tygh Runyan, Rachel Veltri, John Saxon, Henry Gibson, Scott Heindl.

From the morbid to the absurd, Trapped Ashes assembles a quintet of cult directors, including “Friday the 13th” creator Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling) and John Gaeta (visual effects supervisor for Speed Racer and the “Matrix” trilogy), who diabolically interlace several tales of horror.

The central story revolves around a group of strangers — a Hollywood pair looking for their big break, a yuppie couple working through marital problems, a washed-up filmmaker (Saxon), and an enigmatic young woman with a stomach-turning secret — who get trapped inside an old, haunted house while taking a back-lot VIP tour of Ultra Studios. With no obvious way out, the guests are convinced by their tour guide (played by veteran actor Henry Gibson, one of the few recognizable people in the cast) to pass the time by telling their own most horrifying personal stories.

First up is the sexy, campy “The Girl with the Golden Breasts” as told by aspiring actress Phoebe (Veltri), who undergoes a strange implant surgery that leaves her with vampire breasts which need blood to keep her youthful.

“Jibaku” is a mesmerizing story filled with beautiful anime of the yuppie couple’s run in with a dead monk in Japan who seduces and drags the wife into the bowels of hell.

Things slow down a bit for “Stanley’s Girlfriend,” about a pair of filmmakers who fall for the same girl who turns out to be a succubus.

“My Twin, The Worm” recounts the unfortunate life of a girl who shared her mother’s womb with a tapeworm that has shadowed her throughout her life.

Trapped Ashes is an entertaining collection of film shorts, not as compelling as “Tales From the Crypt” or “Creepshow,” but it still has a certain eerie charm thanks to the assemblage of creative directors. The stories are different enough — ranging from the killer implants in “Golden Breasts” to the darkly dramatic “Stanley’s Girlfriend” — that there’s something for everyone.

While some of the stories are stronger than others, in the end, they actually complement each other and ultimately build tension between the characters trapped in the haunted house. With solid acting and filmmaking throughout, as well as some imaginative special effects, especially with the use of anime, Trapped Ashes is a special anthology that is a real treat for fans of horror and cult films.

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