On a Hollywood studio tour, seven tourists are taken inside a "Psycho"-like house, in which they get trapped. To get out, they have to share their stories of struggle, all of which are wonderfully sick and twisted. That's the structure of "Trapped Ashes," an homage to the Amicus-style horror anthology film. It's the kind of movie that rarely works because most don' t know how to approach it; despite its IMDb rating, this one does.
The first story, "The Girl with Golden Breasts," is the best (and most insane), about a wannabe actress (a rather brave Rachel Veltri) who augments her chest to get parts. Too bad she's given vampiric implants that cause her nipples to bite sexual partners.
With some nightmarish animated scenes, "Jibaku" finds an American couple in Japan involved with a perverse spirit, while "Stanley's Girlfriend" is about the mysterious companion of director Stanley Kubrick. A girl and a womb-sharing tapeworm comprise the final segment, "My Twin, the Worm."
Joe Dante ("Gremlins") directs the wraparound story, with Ken Russell ("Altered States"), Sean Cunningham ("Friday the 13th") and Monte Hellman ("Cockfighter") among the other helmers. Despite the number of cooks, the film feels like a unified effort and has a lot of style, especially for a straight-to-video effort.
With an aim to disturb rather than scare, "Trapped Ashes" will reward those well-versed in everything from EC Comics to J-horror. Lionsgate's disc offers longer cuts of two segments as extras, as well as a five-part behind-the-scenes documentary. —Rod Lott