Directors: John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper
Starring: John Carpenter, Alex Datcher, Robert Carradine, Stacy Keach, Mark Hamill
Zip yourself in tight!
Body Bags is a horror anthology film with three segments that all revolve around dead bodies that The Coroner is examining. The style is very much in the same sense as Tales from the Crypt and the coroner is played by John Carpenter himself, who also directed the first two stories and gave the last one over to Tobe Hooper.
The first segment is called The Gas Station and surprisingly enough, that’s the premise for the story. Anne is having her first shift, which happens to be a night shift, at the gas station near Haddonfield, Illinois where a serial killer has recently escaped from a mental hospital.
The Gas Station is the most suspenseful of the bunch and that is only thanks to the masterful skills of John Carpenter. He can pretty much take any setting and add creepiness to it. There is a very lonely and vulnerable feeling in this segment, but there is also some very cheap choices like the decisions or lack of that Anne does nearing the end of it. It is still the best segment out of the three and definitely worth watching. Also look out for cameo’s by Sam Raimi and Wes Craven.
The second segment is called Hair and it is about Richard, a middle age man who is starting to go bald and he is not happy about it. He becomes obsessed with it and tries whatever product he can to make his falling hair stay on his head a little longer, but ends up just making a fool of himself and also pushing his girlfriend away from him. He finally finds some hope with a new doctor that has a special treatment to offer that will restore as much hair as he could possibly want, but the glorious hair also comes with a deadly price…
Hair is also done by John Carpenter and it is a much lighter and funny segment. It’s fun to see something deal with male vanity since stuff that has to do with looks is usually done from a females perspective. Stacy Keach is great and really nailed the part of Richard. The threat or whatever I should call it without spoiling anything is also very original and kind of creepy.
And the last segment is simply called Eye. Brent Matthews is a famous Major League Baseball player who is about to have a life changing experience when he gets into a car accident where he looses his right eye. The doctors inform him of a new experimental eye transplantation surgery where he can get his sight back if he gets an eye from a deceased person. Brent goes along with this surgery, but ends up getting more than just his sight back.
This last segment is done by Tobe Hooper and it’s the poorest one out of the three. The story is a little repetitive since Hair also deals with transplantation of a body part. This one goes darker than Hair, but it didn’t work very well for me. Mark Hamill from Star Wars fame isn’t great as Brent and neither is the directing by Hooper. The concept would later be done much better in horror films from Japan.
The Morgue wraparound has John Carpenter play The Coroner and go around making some silly jokes and becoming a second rate Cryptkeeper. There is some gore here and the humour is decent enough to make the whole thing work.
As a movie, Body Bags is decent entertainment. You could do a lot worse when it comes to horror anthologies than this and I have revisited it a couple of times during the years. Although I rarely mention anything about the media films get released on, I want to make it clear that the current region 1 DVD that is out there is cut to pieces. The entire cameo by Wes Craven in Gas Station is cut out and plenty of gore is out aswell. I’m sure most wouldn’t think that this film would have any more gore since it’s an early 90’s film, but yep, the DVD is butchered. Find it uncut and you’ll have a decent 90 minutes time waster.