Trapped Alive

There's EVIL underground...

Year of Release: 1988
Also Known As: Trapped, Forever Mine
Genre: Horror
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 92 minutes (1:32)
Director: Leszek Burzynski


Sullivan Hester ... Robin Adams
Laura Kallison ... Monica Perry
Mark Witsken ... Randy Carter
Michael Nash ... Mongo
Alex Kubik ... Louis 'Face' Napoleon
Randy Powell ... Billy Williams
Elizabeth Kent ... Rachel
Cameron Mitchell ... John Adams
Paul Dean ... The Monster


In a remote, snowbound wilderness, three desperate convicts blast their way out of a maximum security prison on Christmas Eve. At the same time, Robin and Monica leave a party given by Robin's father John Adams. Driving slowly on the ice-slicked country roads, they are captured by the escapees. Randy, the young getaway driver forced into the escape by the evil Face and powerful Mungo, avoids a police roadblock by turning into the site of the long-closed "Forever Mine." Their vehicle crashes through the rotting cover over an old mine shaft, killing Mungo. The surviving four are left to seek a way out of the maze of old tunnels. They soon learn that something terrible lives in the mine.


Trapped Alive, remindin' us that the addition of blood, breasts, an beasts can transform even a snoozer like The Coal Miner's Daughter into a drive-in classic.

An speakin' of people who like eatin' the still-beating hearts of their victims - all you guys who keep leavin' angry messages on the answerin' machine at Furry Mountain Stuffing wantin' to know why your elk mounts're takin' so long - cool your jets, alright? Cleave'll be back to work just as soon as the doctors get his face mashed back to its original shape - so save your sob stories about how it just won't be Christmas without Santa hats hangin' off your branch antler wall mounts. Cleave's been kinda down the last few months cause he can't seem to get a date with Roxanne Bigelow to save his life; it's gotten so bad that last weekend she told 'im she couldn't see 'im cause she hadda start trainin' 'er team of Siberian Huskies for the Iditarod even though everybody knows Roxanne's apartment complex don't allow pets. Now, if it'd been up to me we'da just let the man wallow in self pity like God intended, but Sadie Bonebreak insisted we try cheerin' 'im up, an Billy Hilliard an me figured maybe she had a point after she threatened to crack our walnuts with this little wooden Rooskie guy she won at the Salvation Army raffle. So the three of us drove over to Furry Mountain Stuffing an dragged Cleave out to Berenstain Beers to shoot some pool, only the prolonged exposure to Cleave's pity party got the waitresses so depressed that they started blubberin' an dribblin' snot into Arvin Spickle's beer an the bartender hadda 86 us. Well, that an Sadie punched out this drunk cattle rancher from Burns who kept askin' to see 'er udders, but that wasn't really her fault. You might be wonderin' what we were doin' at Berenstain Beers anyway when there's a perfectly good pool table at the Gutter Bowl, an basically it boils down to the fact that anytime Sadie goes in there Richard Fawner tries sittin' down next to 'er to talk about how LGBTQVC type people like themselves in rural America hafta stick together til she stuffs his face in the ball return. Anyway, none of this really helped Cleave at all, so Sadie tried a different approach.

"Look, he obviously feels like he's over-the-hill and that he's lost his way with women, so alls we gotta do is make him feel young again and he'll feel better," Sadie summarized.

"Sadie, we've been gettin' kicked outta bars since we were 17 - if feelin' like a teenager again were the answer he'd be happier'n a squirrel in a Planters factory right now," I told 'er.

"Nobody asked you, Ebenezer Skroob - now either gimme something that's gonna help him or prepare to getcher candy cane snapped off," she demanded with one hand on the steerin' wheel an the other clasped around my collar bone.

"We cuh go fledding," Billy offered.

"I ain't trudgin' up and down that hill all night, I'll freeze my tits off," she said dismissively.

"Wouldn't have to. I think he's talkin' about how we did it when we were kids - you just tie the sled to a trailer hitch an pull the guy around in your rig. Other'n the occasional head trauma it really was pretty fun - might even work," I shrugged lookin' over my shoulder at Cleave who'd curled up under a tarp an fallen asleep by that point.

"What about traffic?" she asked skeptically.

"Oh for cripes sake Sadie it's 3 in the mornin'; just don't run over any deer an we'll be fine," I reassured 'er.

Eventually Sadie gave in an we drove by the house, grabbed my old runner sled, picked up Apollo, an away we went. I gotta admit - I hadn't had that much fun since sophomore year when Duke Tankersley an me hid in the storage room at the Videodome til after closin' an packed away several dozen candy bars durin' a Friday the 13th marathon. I mean sure - we burned up $40 wortha gas pullin' Billy around, an Sadie just about slung me into the open storm drain in front of Snakey's Plumbing Supplies, but it was totally worth it. Even perked Cleave up a little bit watchin' us go spillin' all over Main Street - besides, you've purt'near gotta be an android not to be cheered up after a big sloppy kiss from Apollo, so basically things were actually goin' pretty well... right up to the time Cleave decided he wanted to ride. I guess we all just lost track of time, cause around 4:30 we went screamin' north at about 40mph towards Futon Don's Furniture Liquidators (Billy an me were sittin' on the tailgate at the time), when all the sudden Sheriff Hardassian pulled up to the stop light on Cartwright Street, causin' Sadie to instinctively mash the brake. Billy an I tried snaggin' Cleave as he slid under the tailgate but we'd been rolled back against the bench seat by the sudden stoppage an Cleave went face-first into the bumper. Dr. Hynek says the swellin' should go down in a week or so, but right now Cleave looks kinda like Rondo Hatton tried buyin' the last 50" flat screen at Walmart on Black Friday. The upside is Roxanne heard what happened an she's been stoppin' by the ICU for a coupla hours every day to visit, so we're hopin' pity an guilt turn out to be a solid enough foundation upon which to build a relationship.

Almost gettin' slung into the storm drain like that reminded me of this flick from 1988 called Trapped Alive where a coupla suburban bimbi an a trio of convicts end up fallin' down a mine shaft where this frostbitten Morlock's been hidin' out ever since the Eloy decided there was more to life than bein' mutant lunch meat. It's actually a lot like Raw Meat, just without Donald Pleasence, the London subway system, or enough money to cater lunch for the actors, but listen - don't let that fool you - we're talkin' about one of the finest movies ever made in Eagle River, Wisconsin. I know that's a pretty bold statement considerin' both The Inheritor AND Demon Possessed were filmed there, but I think that once you get an idea of the kinda real-world insight this flick has to offer you'll agree, so let's get to it. First, when storing a pair of emergency panties in the glove box, be sure to keep a safe distance between them an your leftover McDonald's condiments, cause nobody's gonna be willin' to take a chance that the stains're only mustard. Second, if your sports utility vehicle bursts into flames crossin' a ditch, the legitimacy of your 5-star safety ratin' may come into question. An third, if you decide to make the emotional epicenter of your flick Cameron "heel for hire" Mitchell emoting to a picture frame, you've probably gone a skosh too deep into the eggnog carton.

The movie begins in prison where this portly guard's wheezin' his way up a corridor until a guy named Face in Sorel snow boots sneaks up on 'im an smooshes his head into brain an kidney pie fillin' so he can escape the Crossbar Hotel with the One Man Gang (Mongo) an another guy who just wants to scrub the floor in peace an get out on good behavior so he can go to welding school an settle down with a nice waitress (Carter). Meanwhile at a Christmas party in the 'burbs, Cameron Mitchell's daughter (Robin) reminds 'im to go easy on the peppermint schnapps so there won't be any repeats of the events of The Toolbox Murders, before strappin' several thousand dollars worth of adorable animal pelts to 'er back an headin' out to a party with 'er trust-fund bestie (Monica). Unfortunately the three inmates of questionable hygiene happen to be hoofin' it over the river an through the woods to Grandmother Barker's house on the same path as the girls, when what to their wondering eyes do appear, but a wood-paneled Jeep and two tiny brained peers. Dashing through the snow in the dead of Wisconsin winter ain't exactly these guys' idea of a good time, so they pile into the girls' SUV an start warmin' their hands in places that'll normally getcha fired from any job but the TSA til they come to a police roadblock an hafta turn off towards an old mine shaft. Unfortunately the Wisconsin department of transportation never got around to replacin' the warnin' sign after a herd of elk trampled all over it so the Jeep goes crashin' into an open shaft, sendin' Mongo through the windshield an leavin' 'im with a heart of glass like Deborah Harry. Carter hasta lug Robin outta the rig before it explodes like an Ozark mountain whiskey still, cept when they seek shelter in the mine the ground gives way an they end up so far underground they can hear old Goblin spiritual songs comin' from a nearby access tunnel. Meanwhile, this sheriff's deputy (Williams) is up the road a piece at the home of some desperate housewife (Rachel) who sleeps in hoop earrings big enough to use as slave collars on Larry "the Axe" Hennig, an they end up makin' the sign of the double-jointed couch cricket on the floor while 'er husband dreams of Packer tickets so close to the field that he can hit Lindy Infante with wadded up corn dog wrappers. While that's goin' on, Face's lockin' Robin up in the storage cavern an workin' in the coal mine tryin' to get Monica to go down, down, only somethin's in the rock locker with Robin an she ends up squealin' all over the room an bumpin' into the phone box that goes to the old mine office (Rachel's house), alertin' Williams to the presence of claim jumpers in the mine.

So Williams starts cliffhangerin' his way down into the mine, cept pretty quick somebody cuts the rope he'd tied around his bumper an he ends up landin' next to Carter, who's just a teensy bit freaked out by the Hannibal Lecter treatment Mongo's face has received since he last saw it. Meantime though, Face's got Monica turnin' the place into a strip mine down below an he really wants to go rootin' around in 'er passion pit, only he ends up gettin' the shaft when Carter leads Williams down into the central chamber an ties 'im to this big medieval lookin' iron gate. Then Williams puts Carter to work tryin' to get this old generator runnin' while Robin develops a case of the squishy britches cause she's been livin' in suburbia so long that she's never seen a man with grease on his hands that wasn't part of a hair-do regimen, only about that time this thing that looks like Harry and the Hendersons with mange starts playin' claw machine with a coupla gnarly meat hooks an drags Face up the side of the rock wall where he turns 'im into an open-Face sandwich. They offer to retrain the guy for the upcomin' solar revolution so he can return to the workforce but he ain't havin' it, so now the cop, the con, an the cuties hafta try gettin' on the same page so they won't end up gettin' their coal rolled. Takes awhile, but eventually they manage to lift the gate up long enough for Robin an Carter to squeeze under, only it ends up comin' down on toppa Williams' ankle an smashin' it into a pot of placenta stew, leavin' Monica trapped on the other side where she's hooked by the Frost Dutchman who starts sharpenin' his molars on 'er clavicle til Carter hasta shoot 'er through the eyeball so she won't hafta see what's become of 'er outfit. Right about now you may be wonderin' what Cam's up to - well, Cam's been havin' a little eggnog-induced geezer nap next to the phone until he finally wakes up at about 4 in the AM to call the cops an reassure this picture of a gal with a bowl cut that Robin's gonna be just fine an that he knows she's got enough sense not to attend parties hosted by that Kavanaugh boy. Elsewhere, the survivors end up at a dead end with this pond that looks like the place everyone used to dump during lunch break, so Robin decides to strip down to 'er Victoria's Secret swimwear an see where the pond goes, only while she's scuba divin' in Lake Latrine the potty monster jumps up outta the water an drags Carter down like a mountain of student loan debt on a Millennial. This's prolly about as far as we oughta go, but rest assured that *somebody* is not pleased with the defunct minin' company's cost/benefit analysis on cave-in rescues vs. subsequent lawsuits, so I'd suggest trackin' a copy of this sucker down.

Alrighty, so you're gonna hear a lotta unflattering trivia about this flick, like, for instance, that it was shot in 1988 and not released on video until 1993 - but don't you pay that no mind. Seriously, it's really not that bad, I mean yeah, the truck explodes as a result of its front end droppin' two feet into a ditch, and sure, when they actually show the flaming vehicle it's parked up against the side of a building that wasn't in any of the previous shots but *in general* the flick looks every bit the $40,000 that went into it. Truthfully I have no idea what it cost but that's probably not far off, and when you consider Cameron Mitchell's salary alone was probably at least a sixth of that you can't help but admire their moxie. I have no idea what was goin' on with Cameron Mitchell in 1988 but this flick came out the same year as Space Mutiny and the man looks at least 80lbs lighter here, so maybe he took the gig to buy a year's supply of Ultra Slim Fast or somethin'. Regardless of his motive, Cam's presence classes up the movie a little bit even though the screenwriter forgot to give him anything to do. Mighta been better off shellin' out an extra three grand to get Bo Hopkins to play the sheriff for 'em on account of the sheriff actually havin' a purpose, but Trapped Alive is basically The Boogens meets Raw Meat, and with a time-tested premise like that you're just about guaranteed to make something watchable as long as you don't go treadin' into Troma territory. Title kinda makes you wanna slap the producer since it's probably implied that anyone who's trapped is also alive, but even beyond that the alternative title of Forever Mine is a lot better both in and out of context. At the end of the day I guess the title isn't that important, particularly since the movie didn't get a theatrical release and in the olden days you generally rented a Horror flick based upon the artwork or the number of scantily clad babes on the cover rather than the title, but it's pretty lazy, and "Trapped Alive" doesn't exactly project a lot of imagination or marketing talent. Still, I've got a soft spot for low budget regional flicks made hundreds of miles from the nearest movie studio, and Wisconsin in particular has come up with some pretty fun ones including Blood Hook, Bog, Runa: The Legend of Shadow Lake, and The Giant Spider Invasion. Trapped Alive is another classic of the outdoor screen (or at least it woulda been if anybody'd lent 'em their screen for a few days) that follows in the footsteps of a sorely missed and bygone era.

Anyway, now that I've waxed nostalgic and made everybody feel older'n the Sears Roebuck catalog in Silas Tankersley's outhouse, it's prolly about time we snapped back to reality and stopped romanticizin' the concept of filmin' a low budget cannibal flick in rural Wisconsin and got down to the nitty gritty. The plot, while not exactly original, is a genre favorite among Horror fans - continuing in the proud tradition of flicks like The Hills Have Eyes, but if it seems like the plot synopsis is unusually short for a long-winded jagoff like myself, it's because the pacing is downright painful at times. Nobody under 30 is gonna be able to survive this movie; it's just too slow in its storytelling. Additionally, it's really, *really* predictable, to the point that you probably don't even have to watch the ending to figure out the "twist," and that's cinematic poison to a lot of movie fans. That said, the good thing about being predictable is that a predictable film is usually a coherent one - so, if nothing else, the flick isn't loaded with scenes that make you scratch your head down to the skull, although I never did quite understand why Carter shot Monica in that scene where she's bein' kidnapped by the cave Krampus, cause as far as I could tell she hadn't been hurt, but at the same time nobody reacts as though he's made a horrible mistake either, so maybe I just missed something. The acting is much better than you'd expect, but to be fair, once you've seen your share of low budget genre titles you tend to expect Manos: The Hands of Fate levels of thespianism. Now I'll admit that *everybody* has a bad take or two, but the ratio of laughable to acceptable scenes implies that the entire cast had at least some formal training or natural aptitude, and it's a little impressive that there's not a single actor who's objectively terrible. None of the cast members (besides Mitchell, of course) chose to pursue acting as a career and that's probably for the best, but at the same time I don't think anyone should look back at the film and feel the need to die of embarrassment if their co-workers discover it - all they've gotta say is: "look, it was the '80s" and people'll understand. I will say this for Elizabeth Kent, though: when she gives her big speech at the climax - she rattled that sucker off with absolutely no cuts in between (it's at least a minute long), and while I'm not convinced her delivery was good, it's so goddamned strange that you kinda get sucked in and start believing she's got more talent than what's coming through on screen.

Here's who matters and why: Cameron Mitchell (Jack-O, Demon Cop, Memorial Valley Massacre, Trapped Alive, Space Mutiny, Mutant War, Terror Night, From a Whisper to a Scream, The Tomb, Night Train to Terror, Blood Link, Frankenstein Island, The Demon 1981, Captive, The Silent Scream, Supersonic Man, Screamers, The Swamp, The Toolbox Murders, Haunts, Nightmare in Wax, Island of the Damned, Blood and Black Lace, Flight to Mars), Elizabeth Kent (Mindwarp), Randy Powell (Battletruck, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, and Francis on the Logan's Run TV series), Paul Rawson (Space Zombie Bingo!!!, The Shrieking, Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys, Demon Cop, Bad Dreams, Star Crystal, Suffer Little Children, Sleepover Nightmare). Of course, most normal people'll know Cameron Mitchell best as Buck Cannon on The High Chaparral back before he found his true calling in the Bs, although that character name is kinda wasted in any movie that doesn't contain the word "sluts" in its title if you ask me.

The special effects are probably the high point of the flick, with a few fairly gruesome effects by Hank Carlson who'd go on to join the K.N.B. Effects team. We never get a really clear shot of the monster-man, but what we do see gives us a pretty good idea of what the poor schmucks in the flick are up against. In addition to the monster we've got Mongo's face with the glass shards buried in it, as well as said face after Chewbacco takes his incisors to it, and while the former is better, both are decent. Beyond that you've got the impaled ankle and torn jugular which are pretty good; unfortunately, you don't really see anything but blood in the bullet through the eyeball scene. The bottom line, though, is that they were able to show a little gore without making asses of themselves, and for that I salute them. The shooting locations are pretty good, and feature some excellent shots of the frozen woodlands of Eagle River, Wisconsin, which has had a population of roughly 1400 for the last 90 years. It's hard to say what they used in the opening sequence to represent the prison - maybe a school or an office building, but it's dark enough and brief enough that it does the job. The mine interiors are hit and miss, with a few scenes actually looking like they had a real cave/mine to shoot in, while others have that distinctive Star Trekian papier-mache appearance. Unfortunately the flick is so obscure that I can't say for certain whether they had a real location representing the mine, but I will say that if they didn't, they should be really proud of at least *some* of their set design. The soundtrack is unquestionably the worst thing about the movie, and while I can sympathize with their situation, the ultra-cheap Casio synthesizer is downright annoying two-thirds of the time. It's not catchy, it's not mood-enhancing, it's just distracting and frequently sounds like the composer rolled the sumbitch down a flight of stairs. Somebody also got the great idea to double up the sound effects, I assume to give it an echo-type feel like we're truly in a cavernous death pit, but all it really does is make you yearn for quiet. I see what the composer was going for, and it's not a bad idea, but they run the concept into the ground and succeed handily in what I can only assume is a quest to make you hate them. Overall, I think the flick actually deserves a passing grade for its plot and its effects and manages to be fairly entertaining with its well-timed unveilins of the female anatomy, but there's an awful lot going against it between the budgetary restrictions and the meandering script, so a passing grade is out of the question. Still, Trapped Alive deserves more notoriety than it has, and I'll even go so far as to recommend it to fans of the cannibal subgenre.

Rating: 49%