Saturday, April 11, 2009

Turk Theater Presents - Trapped Ashes

This movie was, for lack of a better term, just bad

Now, in college, my friends and I fell into the habit of watching some horrible horror movies. Mostly, on purpose - we found excessive amusement in the novelty of viewing films that had gone horribly wrong, purposely or otherwise. Other times, we instituted a system we called "the Draft." The rules are simple - everyone collects between 1-3 movies they would like to watch and puts them into a stack. Any objections should be voiced here (usually, only for a significant moral reason; ex: someone not being okay with torture, rape, or suicide scenes) as, once a movie is "selected" from the stack, you have to watch it - for better or worse - or else you won't be able to draft for awhile. The stack is passed around clockwise and each person selects one movie to take out and eliminate. It can be for any reason (often including spite or group politics), there are no objections to anyone else's eliminations, and you don't have to explain yourself unless you want to. The stack goes around and around until there's only one movie left where, in good sport and spirit, everyone who's participated so far sits down together for a viewing, regardless of the quality of the result. It's a fantastic system that'll spice up movie nights for almost anyone. Unfortunately, Trapped Ashes fits with the former of the two scenarios above.

To be fair, we (being myself and fellow gentleman Ali D) sat down with the goal to enjoy some glorious B-movie fun at the behest of Fear.net. Although we weren't expecting a "quality" film exactly, there is a significant risk in purveying that selection - the comedic value in "bad horror" isn't always guaranteed. This was a reminder of that fact.

The premise, interestingly enough, seems to mirror the same formula for Chuck Pahalniuk's "Haunted" (and other similar tales). A selection of L.A. residents are given all access, VIP passes on one of the famed "Stars of Hollywood" tours (guided by, of course, the reverend from Wedding Crashers) for one reason or another. During the tour, the group approaches a mysterious, decrepit mansion (who's house it's supposed to be, I forget) where the over-eager crew presses their guide to allow them to enter despite his opposition. Some delightfully bad dialogue, cheesy door slams, and goofy horror gags later the group finds themselves trapped in the basement magically unable to escape. The tour guide, of course, chimes in regarding an urban legend about this mansion - where its occupants gathered in the very room they were in to tell their most horrifying personal stories to one another (Oooooh). Hence, starting off the four-part film and plot-engine for the rest of the movie. It gets really bad and I've taken the liberty of providing a summary of each part with my own titles.

Part 1 - "'Teeth' was already taken, so..."
Boobs that bite and suck blood. Seriously. A young, wanna-be actress opts for plastic surgery to enhance her image, so that she might be able to finally land a leading role. Where she gets the money is never explained, but she undergoes an experimental breast-augmentation using recently deceased tissue. Her new breasts afford her the career, confidence, attention, and sex life she's always wanted. She becomes a porn star (goal... achieved?), and then her breasts start biting people and sucking their blood. It's a problem - she can't control when it happens and her nipples have gone "innie" and grown teeth. After some shoddy investigation work, she stumbles upon a secret lab where she learns that her breasts have been augmented with bio-engineered, blood-sucking organs capable of giving her eternal youth. Oh, and they've been invented by chubby, transexual scientists who've augmented themselves with these "mammpire" (my term. heh.) organs to make themselves forever young. Her big reveal at the end is that she recently killed her poor, loving boyfriend and drank his blood through two martini glasses with straws via her newly bestowed bosom beasts. At a loss for words, yet? You'd think it doesn't get any more misogynistic than that. You'd think that.

Part 2 - "American Man Find Demon Wife for Lesson Learning of Great Importance (US Title)"
A lonely housewife is transformed into a hentai tentacle demon after being seduced by an attractive, yet recently deceased Japanese priest. Yep, they went there. A work-driven businessman takes his wife to Japan during a business trip in the interest in spending some vacation time together (apparently, he promised that they'd have plenty of "alone time," whatever that means). He proceeds to ignore her and she's lured away by said dead priest, where she pours her soul out to him despite the fact that it appears he doesn't understand English. Then, for awhile, they look at a painting of a tentacle creature stripping down and abducting a robed woman. It's awkward, there's moaning involved, and it lead me to believe that the directors are profoundly misinformed on how consensual sexual behavior works.

Later that night, the Lonely Woman, in her dreams, is visited and molested by the rotting image of the dead priest, of which she apparently enjoys (see previous comment on misinformed directors). Her sexual desire aflame (oh god), she wakes up and nakedly follows the priest's voice into a dark cave and doesn't come back. Busy Husband wakes up and searches everywhere, until the Head Priest reveals that Hell, apparently, is in their very backyard and that his wife is going to be trapped there unless he goes immediately to carry her out. Of course, he stumbles through the cave, awkwardly falls, and bam, he's in Hell. Busy Husband beholds the spectacle of his Lonely Wife's transformation into a Voracious Hell-Beast, apparently now capable of sustaining her own erection via one of her tentacles (there's an awkward animation sequence and to save her, he has to shove a Shinto prayer seal down her throat). He carries her out and then they have sex as soon as they make it back to their bedroom, thereby solving all of their problems. The reveal, of course, is that the Wife's burning sexuality is so consumptive that she turns into a demon again and kills said husband with her phallic tentacles because... well... that's what demon-women do, apparently. 
You didn't believe me, did you? And, moving on...

Part 3 - "My Best Friend's 'Girl'"
This story was, actually, pretty decent given the scope of the other parts. And, you've probably heard it before - it's a fairly common folk-tale. They just took out all the good parts. It chronicles the friendship of two aspiring film directors (one of which is Tahmoh Penikett of Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse fame) who bond over chess and their dreams of, well, just finding themselves some tail. The narrator flashes back to the 50's and talks about the Genius Director who aspired to film the first 24-hour movie and the woman that almost ruins their lives. After getting involved with their fair-share of women, the Genius Director falls for a gorgeous, sexually aggressive woman (who seems to just wear a shirt without pants) and they start spending all of their time together. The Narrator notices that Genius Director has become less driven, inattentive, and weak-looking - derived, mostly, from his making a chess mistake. And, then the Genius Director leaves the country to go to film school and make real movies. He succeeds and writes back occasionally, while The Narrator proceeds to be seduced by the Girlfriend and begins to have an explicit, sexual relationship with her. 

After a few sex scenes involving top-less Girlfriend (who has nails so sharp she can draw enough blood to drink from Tahmoh's chest, and does so often), the Narrator notices that he, like his friend before him, feels weak, depressed, and withdrawn - chocking it up to his guilt for betraying his friend for so long. To the Narrator's dismay, Girlfriend reveals that she had informed Genius Director of their relationship a while ago  and that he was "okay with it and not coming back." Sure enough, the Narrator reads a letter from his friend expressing that he'd "hoped this would happen" and that he was pursuing all of his dreams in Europe. And, then the Girlfriend suddenly leaves the Narrator and he never hears from her again. 40 years later, the Narrator learns that his friend died and left him a roll of film in his will and an apology - noting an awareness of the woman's effect on him and his health, and that he'd stayed out of the country to keep away from her. The Narrator watches the film, revealing that the Girlfriend is really a witch who sucks the blood of her victims to stay alive. It's a silent film from Prague, where the woman kills a man on a grave and proceeds to feed on him.
Anyone else seeing a pattern so far? Thought so.

Part 4 - "Le Tapeworm Mon Frere"
A young, french, goth girl develops an emotional attachment to the tapeworm that infested her mother while her mother was pregnant with her (yep, totally serious). This is supposed to explain why the girl is always hungry and why she's constantly stealing food. The mother and father are attractive French people who immigrate to the United States for no apparent reason (orated by actual dialogue, "But, Papa. Why did we come to America? We were doing so well in France"). The directors continue to demonstrate both a gross misunderstanding of middle-school biology and a lack of knowledge in how tapeworms are treated when the mother is told she is both with child and with tapeworm and that there is nothing they can do until the baby is born. The girl's mother proceeds to go into hysterics and begins to starve herself to kill the tapeworm, convinced that she's saving a baby that isn't really in any danger at this point. Shortly after the girl's birth, the father abducts the girl and runs off with the mother's best friend, leaving the mother to a life of psychosis alone. They live in an apartment in a nondescript US city and the girl grows up with an insatiable hunger. When the girl begins to start stealing food, the new step-mother decides that the best course of action is to abuse and starve her. Upset and hungry, the girl SUMMONS THE TAPEWORM FROM THE WALLPAPER to seek revenge. The tapeworm proceeds to crawl up the step-mother's vagina (complete, of course, with more awkward moaning; see previous comment on misinformed directors) and rip her apart from the inside out. Yay.

Conclusion: Someone has some serious mommy issues and I really don't know what else to tell you. With the exception of Tahmoh (his scenes elicited the response "Huh. Look. Someone who can act"), the performances aren't great and, where this movie attempted to become a B-Movie comic masterpiece, the stories were too outrageous to find either funny or scary (did I mention the mommy issues?). It, actually, kinda made me feel like I just watched some really bad porn.

I advise you pass this one by during your forays into the "Free Movies" section on On-Demand. Unless you don't believe me. But, then again, I think that you could live without knowing.

10 comments:

Jason Heat said...

Well that just sounds absolutely terrible.

Ozkirbas said...

It was. Definitely the kind of movie where both parties involved kept waiting for the other to go... "Uh...can... we... watch something else?"

I kept waiting for it to get better. It just never happened.

Oh, I found out after I posted this that each portion had "real titles." And, they are as follows:

1. "The Girl with Golden Breasts"
2. "Jibaku" (Meaning: "suicide bomber" in Japanese)
3. "Stanley's Girlfriend"
4. "My Twin - The Worm"

Jason Heat said...

Was there ever any kind of resolution to the framing sequence?

Ozkirbas said...

Oh. Apparently the meaning of jibaku can also mean, "being circumscribed by one's own words or actions"

Yeah, the framing solidifies in the end around the concept that everyone who told a story played themselves out to be a victim of some sort. The Guide (who, I think, I supposed to be a devil) reveals that the actress had decided to use her "gifts" by gladly killing her boyfriend, the Husband is killed and his wife is a demon now, the old movie director apparently kills himself, and... Tapeworm girl is seen sitting around the bodies of her dead parents, eating. They all try to leave, only to be magically greeted by a doorway, within which they view a scene of themselves from earlier in the movie when they were exploring the mansion. They scream and the movie cuts back to the Guide driving around his little tour-mobile, ready to pick up another group (or possibly the same group again. It was really vague).

The point, I think, is that the group is in Hell, forced to relieve their past sins over and over through storytelling.

...

So, yeah. That's how the framing resolves. Amazing, isn't it?

B.Graham said...

GUH.

ali d said...

Many notes from John's viewing partner:

1) I was not involved at all in the choosing of this particular film. I didn't want to watch it, but I didn't want to shoot down his choice either. I now know better. JohnOzkirbas is not allowed to choose another FEARnet movie for at least 3 months. It was terrible. And trust me, we know terrible movies.

2) It's FEARnet, not fear.net, though that url will take you to fearnet.com. Not to be confused with the Stephen Dorff movie FeardotCom.

3) Seriously, don't even look at me. I had no part in this.

4) I don't think she became a porn star. I just think it happened to be a sex scene that they were taping because according to this movie, all women can do is have sex and suck the souls out of undeserving, innocent men.

5) Mammpire = comedy gold. Still not worth watching this piece of crap though.

6) I don't think the sex with the tentacle creature was supposed to be consensual. I'm pretty sure they wanted us to be clear that it was raping her and then dragging her to Hell.

7) Demon women, apparently, have to get severely short hair cuts.

8) Tahmoh, what were you DOING in this movie?!

9) The French father DOES NOT abduct the girl. He does run off with the mom's best friend, but it's not until mom goes psychotic that tapeworm-girl is sent to live with her father and stepmother. He was still a philandering shit, but he didn't kidnap anyone.

10) The girl, constantly concerned that she won't get enough to eat, begins to hide food around the house. The obvious answer to this problem is to starve her, as the stepmother does.

11) As for framing the end, you find out that the tour guide is actually the original director of the movie that was shot in the haunted house. He now gets his kicks by trapping other souls in there, and then making them part of his crappy backlot tour.

Seriously, this movie was just an excuse to watch women have sex, and then blame them for ruining men's lives like the whorish bitch-demons we all are. It was extremely disturbing and gratuitous. Also, it didn't make ANY SENSE. Plot holes doth abound. And JohnOzkirbas doth not pick movies anymore.

Ozkirbas said...

1) Yes you, did. I'll take responsibility for making the final decision, but, if I recall, we made a collective list to work down from.

2) Oops

3) (Stares)

4) I dunno, totally possible. They didn't provide any evidence to the contrary. Her only real acting parts involver her screwing, as you mentioned, so it certainly felt like it.

5) (Bows)

6) You're right, it wasn't supposed to be consensual, which is kinda what I meant. I just saw where the story was going and it was no where good. Plus, there's some pretty awkward moaning involved. I wouldn't be surprised if it was meant to sound sexually stimulating, which is problematic.

7) It's hot in hell. Gotta keep your hair of your neck

8) He was the sole good thing about this film...

9) They certainly sneak off. I just couldn't recall if they left before or after the mother was committed.

10) It might be an obvious answer, but I'm pretty sure that isn't the correct one.

11) Yeah, that makes sense. But, with the whole "everyone ending up dead" thing, I think this doubles as their own private purgatory.

ali d said...

1) No, I told you what movies I wanted to watch, and you said that you wanted to watch either Trapped Ashes or something else, and I didn't want to be pushy.

I'd buy the stuck in Hell bit for the end, but it still doesn't make ANY sense. Why would the boyfriend and the husband end up there? Andy didn't do anything but get eaten. Granted, business-man wasn't the best husband in the world, but he did try to save his demon-wife from the bowels of Buddhist hell. Why are they being punished too?

Oh yeah, because this movie was TERRIBLE and DIDN'T MAKE SENSE.

Ozkirbas said...

1) No, we worked down the FearNET and Free Movie menu over the course of about a half-hour reviewing each description, and making note of individual movies either of us would have liked to see. It's true, in the end I think we were left with 2 movies on each side and you conceded to Trapped Ashes in the end in the interest of not being pushy, of which I appreciate. And, in hindsight, may have been a bad choice, but you certainly played a part.

But, if it bothers you that much, I'm cool taking the heat on this if you wish. :-p

Eh, the Boyfriend I can't explain. I pin that up to lack of director foresight. The Husband, based on the title "Jibaku," I think is supposed to have a substantial crux of the blame on this. Even if he does save her, the damage is done, she doesn't need him for her sexual gratification anymore, and that makes her a demon set upon the world, and it's all his fault. I'm not saying that's a good message (far from it), but I think that's where the directors are coming from. Given, she's there too, but she's an evil demon who kills her husband and that does make some sense, even if the message from the story is horrific.

That's the best I can do.

The movie is just terrible. Appalling, even.

ali d said...

FINE, I might have had A TINY BIT to do with it. I regret not shooting it down at the outset.