'Trapped Ashes' is a 'horror' anthology with each episode cut by a different director. There's an awful lot of sex on show, but not much original, inventive horror, and the main reason for this is a limp and gawky script by the otherwise fabulously named Dennis Bartok.
You know Ken Russell's segment isn't going to be out and out gore, but a glance at his back-catalogue reveals the guy's no stranger to extreme imagery and as you'd expect, his piece is the most successful.
'The Girl With The Gold Breasts' makes the most of a weak conceit, and it's to Russell's great credit that he turns such an uneventful story into something so watch-able:
A wannabe Hollywood actress, undergoing a routine cosmetic procedure, receives vampire breasts. When she complains, we get to see Russell and two other old guys, dressed in very disturbing drag, eventually revealing they have splendid vampire breasts as well!
That's it. It's funny, quite bizarre and you're left scratching your head a bit afterwards. 'TGWTGB' shows Russell's imagination is as warped and impish as ever and an interview on the 'special features' reveals him to be cheerfully demented.
The other three films are no-where near as solid. Sean S. Cunningham's is a kind of live-action/Manga hybrid set around a Buddhist temple with plenty of sex as you'd expect but not much chills.
Monte Hellman's piece seems to be a thesis on why Kubrick left for Europe in the 60's; his girlfriend was a witch apparently.
The final effort by John Gaeta, an fx man, about a goth's relationship with the tape-worm she was forced to share her mother's belly with, has at least the embryo (apologs droogies) of a good idea but the climax is so obvious, it falls straight off the screen.
Joe Dante does the linking story and apart from a customary cameo by Dick Miller, it goes absolutely nowhere. The 'twist' is the kind of post-modern nonsense that gets contributed to druggie art-school rag-mags. I'm all for wracking my brain if there's payola at the crunch - but it just doesn't happen. It's no help that the acting is so sluggish and one-dimensional either, you don't care if anyone dies or not.
Unfortunately, apart from Russell, it's all a bit of a slider. Needs a much more subversive and troubled writer to get the best out of these guys.
3 stars to Lionsgate for giving Ken Russell work and putting the British Film Industry to shame, but it's a generous 3.