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Julian Weaver
Jay Leggett, Cameron Mitchell, Sullivan Hester
Writing Credits:
Leszek Burzynski

A sheriff's deputy, some escaped prisoners and two young girls find themselves trapped in a mine shaft where a cannibalistic mutant is hunting them for food.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English LPCM Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 6/4/2019

• Audio Commentary with Director Leszek Burzynski
• Audio Commentary with Makeup Effects Crew Member Hank Carlson and Horror Writer Josh Hadley
• Audio Commentary with The Hysteria Continues
• “There’s Evil Underground” Documentary
• Interview with Makeup Effects Crew Member Hank Carlson
• “Upper Michigan Tonight” TV Documentary
• Interview with Director Leszek Burzynski
• Image Gallery
• Trailers


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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Trapped Alive [Blu-Ray] (1988)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 11, 2019)

Although genre fans remember the 1980s as the golden age of slasher flicks, other forms of horror hit screens as well. For an example, we go to 1988’s Trapped Alive.

As Robin Adams (Sullivan Hester) and Monica Perry (Laura Kallison) head toward a Christmas party, problems arise. Some escapees from a nearby prison carjack them and take the women hostage.

Matters get worse from there, as a mishap lands the vehicle in an abandoned mineshaft. Stuck in there, not only do Monica and Robin need to deal with their adductors but also they must contend with a threat from a mutant cannibal.

Well alrighty then! There’s a twist one doesn’t normally find in crime-based films, and as implied, it gives Trapped a tone somewhat different from the usual genre fare. Indeed, it makes the movie more in line with fare such as 1977’s The Hills Have Eyes.

As someone whose entire teen experience took place in the 1980s, I fell into the prime audience for the era’s horror flicks. I also was an active movie-goer – and VHS renter – in that period.

So why do I remember so few of these films? Chalk up Trapped as yet another 1980s genre effort that either never entered my radar or faded from memory decades ago, albeit one that actually didn’t come out until 1993.

For reasons no one seems to recall, Trapped never got a theatrical run. It sat in limbo until it finally received a video release in 1993.

Via DVD and Blu-ray, I’ve found it interesting to visit these obscure 1980s films. Even when I don’t recall them, I identify with the period’s horror in a way that wouldn’t be true for, say, the 1960s or 1970s. The 1980s was the first full decade where I was a conscious, aware movie fan, so I maintain a connection to this time span in a way I don’t the earlier zones.

While I enjoy the chance to experience these largely forgotten flicks, I can’t claim most deserve to be remembered, and Trapped falls into this category. A thoroughly awful genre effort, it comes with almost no redeeming characteristics.

Really, the basic nuttiness of the premise acts as the film’s only positive. Given decent execution, Trapped could’ve offered cheesy fun.

Unfortunately, Trapped suffers from a low level of talent across the board. The actors consistently overplay their roles and make them cartoony and unbelievable.

Not that the hamfisted script allows for much room to create good work, as it sticks us with laughable dialogue and zero-dimensional characters. We expect stretches of logic in horror movies, but Trapped goes hog wild with stupidity.

When the thugs attack Robin and Monica, they don’t even bother to lock the doors or roll up the windows – and they have a gun which they don’t even bother to brandish! How does this make any sense?

Pacing seems atrocious. Trapped takes a slew of pointless detours, all of which subvert the claustrophobia that would form tension.

Even by the loose standards of 1980s horror, Trapped Alive becomes a clumsy mess. The movie could’ve brought silly thrills, but it’s so poorly made and incompetent that it’s a chore to watch.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus A

Trapped Alive appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I didn’t expect much from the transfer, so I was pleased by the pretty positive results.

Sharpness was usually good. A little softness affected wider shots, but any lack of definition was typical for films of this one’s era. Overall clarity appeared solid.

I saw no jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also failed to major cause issues, as I discerned occasional small specks but nothing problematic.

With a fairly natural palette, the colors of Trapped worked pretty well. The hues tended toward low-key blues/ambers and I thought the hues generally came across as well-depicted.

Blacks were mostly dark and firm, and low-light shots offered reasonable clarity. No one will view this as a demo film, but given the era in which it was made, the end result satisfied.

Similar feelings greeted the decent PCM 2.0 soundtrack of Trapped, as its audio quality seemed dated but fine. Though the disc gets credited as stereo, I believe this is a mistake, as it always seems monaural.

Speech appeared reasonably natural and concise, with minimal edginess. Some iffy looping appeared but that wasn’t a substantial issue.

Music presented more than adequate range and depth, and effects showed good clarity and accuracy. Nothing here excelled, but the soundtrack held up well enough.

Expect a ton of extras here, and we find three separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Leszek Burzynski, as along with moderator Joe Rubin, he presents a running, screen-specific look at the movie’s path to the screen, thoughts about cast, crew and collaborators, and a mix of production areas.

Despite a few lapses of memory, Burzynski offers a pretty good look at the film. He gives us a nice array of details, and Rubin helps keep the track moving at a solid pace. This becomes an enjoyable overview of the shoot.

For the second commentary, we hear from makeup effects crew member Hank Carlson and horror writer Josh Hadley. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of Carlson’s career and work on Trapped as well as genre thoughts.

This tends to be a pretty loose commentary, and it doesn’t focus all that much on Trapped itself. Still, it’s an interesting view of the subject matter, especially when Carlson talks about his roots and initial life as a teenaged effects artist.

Finally, we hear from members of The Hysteria Continues, a podcast group. We hear from Justin Kurswell, Erik Threllfall, Joseph Henson and Nathan Johnson. All four chat together for this running, screen-specific look at cast/crew, other horror flicks/influences, sets and locations, and related subjects.

Unlike the subjects of prior Hysteria commentaries, none of the participants saw Trapped in years past. All watched it to prep for the discussion, but they didn’t view it multiple times over prior times.

This lends the commentary a different tone when compared to the other Hysteria pieces. For those, they approached the films from the POV of long-established fans, whereas here they can view Trapped from a more objective perspective.

That helps make this commentary superior to the other Hysteria tracks I’ve heard. Those tended to feel like lackluster fanboy chats where the participants let their longtime affection for the films rule all, but here they come at Trapped without the same rose-colored glasses.

As such, the Hysteria guys seem better able to judge the film with objectivity, so we get more legit criticisms and less praise. They also research matters more intensely and make this a more informative chat than in the past. Some of the info repeats from the first two commentaries, but this still becomes a pretty good discussion.

Entitled There’s Evil Underground, a documentary runs 30 minutes, 52 seconds and features Burzynski, cinematographer Nancy Schreiber, production manager Alexandra Reed and actors Sullivan Hester and Alex Kubik.

“Evil” looks at the movie’s roots and development, the Wisconsin studio, cast and performances, set design, creature design/effects, photography, and concluding thoughts. Some of this repeats from the commentaries, but we find a decent array of new details here.

In addition to his commentary, we find an interview with Hank Carlson. During this 18-minute, 37-second chat, Carlson examines his interest in movies, aspects of his career, and his time on Alive. A lot of this treads the same ground as the commentary, so the interview can be a bit redundant.

From 1988, we get an episode of Upper Michigan Tonight. The 22-minute, 32-second show takes us to the Windsor Lake studio and gives us a behind the scenes look at the production of Alive.

In addition to Burzynsi, we find notes from producer Chris Webster, advisor Brian Savegar, Wick Building Supply’s David Hoffman, and studio owner Cheryl Webster.

They offer grandiose hopes for Windsor Lake that didn’t come true, but the best aspects of “Tonight” simply give us a glimpse of the set. These are enough to make this a worthwhile program.

With Leszek Burzynski: The Early Years, we find a nine-minute, 41-second chat with the director. As implied, he tells us about his initial forays into TV and movies. This becomes a decent overview.

Under Image Gallery, we locate 218 stills. These mix shots from the set and movie images. Proof that quantity doesn’t top quality, this becomes a mostly forgettable collection.

No one expects great acting or air-tight story-telling from 1980s horror movies. Even so, Trapped Alive seems subpar, as it suffers from a general sense of amateurishness and idiocy that make it a struggle to watch. The Blu-ray comes with fairly good picture, acceptable audio and a long set of supplements. Skip this awful film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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