BODY BAGS **** USA 1993 Dir: John Carpenter / Tobe Hooper / Larry Sulkis. 91 mins
Showtime’s attempt to cash in on the success of HBO’s TALES FROM THE CRYPT resulted in this one-off horror anthology, framed by amusingly bad taste scenes of a coroner (the appropriately cadaverous John Carpenter, in his biggest ever acting role) snooping around a morgue, making sick jokes about breast implants and finding the three body bags with the best stories behind how they got here.
Carpenter also directed the first two stories, starting with “The Gas Station”, a straight-forward return to HALLOWEEN territory in which Alex Datcher suffers a terrifying first night on the night shift at a gas station, visited by a selection of oddballs (including Carpenter regulars Buck Flower and Peter Jason, plus David Naughton and Wes Craven) in the knowledge that an escaped serial killer is on the loose in the area. Jokey references to Haddonfield and Sam Raimi’s cameo as a corpse pep up a suspenseful excuse for Carpenter to have fun with the slasher movie tropes he helped to create.
Carpenter’s other segment, “Hair”, is an amusing satire of male vanity, as ageing Stacy Keach’s hair loss paranoia drives him to sign up for a radical new non-surgical treatment courtesy of eccentric David Warner and his giggly nurse Debbie Harry, discovering that he is hosting vicious extra-terrestrial worms to rejuvenate his mop.
Tobe Hooper’s story, “Eye” – a variant on the age-old HANDS OF ORLAC, with baseball player Mark Hamill losing an eye in a car wreck and receiving the peeper of a serial killer in its place – has its moments, and, although not especially memorable, this portmanteau is a lot of fun.
Review by Steven West