For every single thing the 1998 horror movie, Trapped Alive, does correctly, it does something else completely wrong. A voracious cannibal in an abandoned mine? Excellent. A society girl being forced to strip by a Shakespeare-quoting prisoner with a giant birthmark on his face? Nope.
There’s more than one rich girl in this movie. Monica and Robin (Laura Kallison and Sullivan Hester, respectively) are on their way to a Christmas party on an icy road. They pass a sign that warns drivers not to pick up hitchhikers, for they are on prison property. Conveniently, three inmates have just escaped from said prison! They flag down the girls’ car and attempt to make a getaway. In order to escape from the cops, they head to the old Forever Mine. A patch of ice sends them skidding through a barrier, and the vehicle crashes into a mine shaft. Their quest to escape the mine makes up the bulk of the story, especially when it becomes evident that a flesh-eating mutant lurks underground.
The main character is Deputy Billy Williams (Randy Powell, Francis from the TV version of Logan’s Run). It helps horror movies move along when law enforcement officers are idiots, and Deputy Williams is a total dumbass. He sleeps with the crazy mine caretaker, Rachel (Elizabeth Kent), within minutes of meeting her. Never mind the fact that he’s on the clock and partaking in a manhunt for the escapees. There’s always time for a bit of nookie by the fireplace. The deputy uses her phone to call the police station despite the fact there’s a CB radio in his cruiser! It’s one thing to see awkward, bumbling heroes, but this guy makes one wrong decision after the other.
The prisoners fall into bad guy stereotypes. The morbidly obese biker dude is named Mongo. No, I’m not kidding. The one with the portwine stain is called Face. Then, there’s the cute one who doesn’t really deserve to be in prison. His name is Randy, and Robin thinks he’s just swell.
The best actor in the whole movie is Paul Dean, the guy who plays the monster. Creeping through the mine like a demented Colonel Sanders, Dean brings real menace to his role as a cannibal. Lowering a giant sharpened claw onto his victims to pull them up to his dining area, like a demented child at a pizza place, The Monster is a serious, lurking threat. He might be the only sane thing in a movie where everything is off-kilter enough to be weird, but not quite fantasy.
Sullivan Hester spends the entire movie looking like she’s about to sneeze. Even when she strips down to her undergarments to dive into a particularly nasty body of water, her unexpressive face undercuts the danger she is supposedly in. In one of the weirdest scenes, beloved character actor Cameron Mitchell performs a soliloquy to a picture of his dead wife. This uncomfortable monologue goes on far longer than it should.
As usual, Arrow has gone overboard in packing this special edition of Trapped Alive with special features. The 2K restoration looks great on my television. Details in the darkened mine shafts are clear and distinct.
The movie itself is unintentionally hilarious, with characters doing things beyond stupid. They choose options that shouldn’t even be on their list of possible responses. That monster, though, and the gore effects that start showing up through the middle stretch of the movie, are pretty great. It’s a shame Trapped Alive takes itself so seriously, though. Some intentional comedy would have been a welcome relief.
Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary with director Leszek Burzynski
Brand new audio commentary with special effects artist Hank Carlson and horror writer Josh Hadley
Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
There s EVIL Underground… – brand new making-of documentary featuring interviews with director Leszek Burzynski, cinematographer Nancy Schreiber, production manager Alexandra Reed and actors Alex Kubik and Sullivan Hester
Upper Michigan Tonight – 1988 television documentary on Windsor Lake Studios, featuring footage from behind the scenes of Trapped Alive and contemporary interviews with director Leszek Burzynski, producer Christopher Webster and production designer Brian Savegar
Leszek Burzynski: The Early Years – the Trapped Alive director discusses his early forays into genre movie-making
Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collectors booklet featuring new writing by Zach Carlson