Body Bags is the John Carpenter equivalent of Tales From the Crypt. This 90s cheese fest features Carpenter as a quirky mortician, who presents three morbid tales to the viewers. Two out of the three are directed by Carpenter himself. The final segment is directed by Tobe Hooper.
Like most anthologies, Body Bags ranges in quality. The first story The Gas Station is a decent, if somewhat predictable slasher tale. The plot follows a young woman at her first night working at a remote gas station. It soon becomes apparent that someone is out to get her. Over the course of her shift she is forced to fight for her survival. This story isn’t a bad one, but it’s the clear weak link of the film. The initial set up oozes with suspense, a young woman working at an isolated location, at night. However, the payoff feels a bit pointless.
The next story is Hair, a gross little body horror piece. This one is my personal favorite. It portrays a man unable to cope with going bald. His desperate attempts to restore his hair lead him to a strange institute providing a “miracle product”. It’s all downhill from there for our thin haired fellow. This is a story that is still relevant today. Despite being kind of a popular theme in horror, there were a few unexpected twists. Hair somehow manages to be both poignant and a ton of fun.
The final segment Eye, is the tale of a baseball player that receives an evil eye transplant. After a severe car accident, Brent is given the eye of an executed serial killer. He begins having horrific visions, which cause him to display violent behavior. This portion of the film is weird in the best way possible. For example, Brent is building a crib when he has a flashback to the killer as a baby inside the crib. I can’t really say much else, other than it’s as bizarre as a clown at a funeral.
The acting in Body Bags is about what you’d expect. It’s cheesy, but there are some fun performances there. Plus, you’ll see a lot of familiar faces including Debby Harry, Roger Corman, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, Greg Nicotero, and Tom Arnold. The standout performance is Stacey Keach as the man with the receding hairline. Mark Hamill as the homicidal baseball player is also intriguing. Hamill comes off like a psycho Jeff Foxworthy, and the film is inexplicably better for it. Alex Datcher is quite charismatic as the “final girl” in the segment The Gas Station. I’m surprised she didn’t have a more successful career.
No one would accuse Body Bags of being a high brow piece of cinema, but it has its moments. It’s worth watching for the Carpenter bits alone. Sure it plays like a made for TV movie, but that’s what makes the perfect film for a bit of unwinding after a stressful day. I’d recommend this one to fans of Creepshow and Tales From the Darkside.