Trapped Alive (1988) – Film Review
Director: Leszek Burzynski
Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Alex Kubik, Sullivan Hester
by Sarah Morgan
The horror genre has often attracted low-budget film-makers, probably because it’s relatively easy to scare the bejeezus out of people and the returns can be very lucrative indeed.
Roger Corman blazed a trail on that score and many people have tried to follow his successful model in the 60 years since. Among them are the folk behind the short-lived Windsor Lake Studios, a Wisconsin-based company that made a handful of movies in the late-1980s and early 1990s, including a trio of projects backed by horror magazine Fangoria.
The firm was also behind Trapped Alive, which was shot as ‘Forever Mine’ in 1988 but remained unreleased for five years. Perhaps its makers realised they had a stinker on their hands and kept it hidden for as long as possible.
Two female friends, all dressed up to the nines, set off for a party one wintry night – just as a group of sex-starved convicts escape from the local jail. Unsurprisingly, their paths cross and the women find themselves in grave danger.
However, there’s even worse to come when their car runs off the road and they become stranded in an abandoned mine – trapped alive, as the title suggests. A policeman tries to rescue them, but he becomes stuck too. What they don’t know is that one of the original miners has been stranded underground for decades, has gone mad, and is determined to bump them all off.
There are echoes of the British 1972 movie Death Line here, but where that has tension and atmosphere, Trapped Alive has little to applaud it other than decent make-up by Hank Carlson, who was then still in high school but went on to work on such projects as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Army of Darkness.
The cast comprises largely of TV actors, although genre veteran Cameron Mitchell does turn up a couple of times in a failed attempt to add some gravitas. Sadly, he does little more than phone his performance in and adds nothing to the final film.
The special features on the disc are far more impressive than the movie itself. There are three audio commentaries, including one with the aforementioned Carlson, as well as three documentaries – one a ‘making of’ production, another about Windsor Lake Studios and a third focusing on director Leszek Burzynski. Watching those is far more rewarding than sitting through Trapped Alive.
‘Trapped Alive’ is released on Blu-ray by Arrow, £24.99