Body Bags is an interesting anthology horror film, though it seems like it could have been more. Released in 1993 and directed by John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper, it’s often compared to the beloved HBO series Tales From the Crypt.” From what I understand, it was originally intended to be a Showtime series, yet they dropped the ball. Then the remaining parts were stuffed together into a movie format, giving us this fine feature. In any case, it works pretty well. John Carpenter himself is the host, introducing each story as a creepy mortician. He is both funny and strangely likable, even if morbid. It’s fun to see Carpenter in the “Cryptkeeper” role, and it’s one of the most memorable parts of the movie.
On that note, each story is reasonably well done, even if not the greatest ever told. A good example is story #1, known as “The Gas Station.” Taking places in Haddonfield, Illinois, this story has another thing in common with the Halloween films — it has a consistent aura of suspense. There’s nothing profound about this segment, but it’s solid. In a way, one could say that about Halloween, too. Sometimes simpler is better, and skilled filmmakers (like visual artists and musicians) can make a lot out of a little. This segment features Alex Datcher, Robert Carradine, George Buck Flower, Sam Raimi and even Wes Craven as “Pasty-Faced Man.”
Hair and Eye
The second Body Bags story, simply called “Hair,” is definitely more humorous. It stars Stacy Keach as a man whose obsessed with his hair loss. He goes through great lengths to remedy his increasing baldness. At first he thinks he’s found a miracle cure, which gives him luscious, long locks. However, it’s a solution that doesn’t quite make the cut, and may have some sinister side effects. Honestly, the special effects here are a little outdated, but they probably weren’t going for a serious look anyway. I think Stacy Keach’s performance is pretty believable here, and one can understand how his frustration gets in his way.”Hair” also features David Warner, Sheena Easton, Gregory Nicotero and Deborah Harry (AKA Blondie).
The final big story, simply called “Eye,” features Luke Skywa…oops, I mean Mark Hamill! Anyway, he plays a pro baseball player who gets in a car accident, has an eye transplant and gets twisted visions as a result. It’s sort of a meat-and-potatoes horror story, and frankly didn’t hold my interest like the other two stories. Honestly, it doesn’t seem like the most original plot, but it does ponder if eyes really are “the window to the soul.” The simple question: If you get eyes transplanted from a maniac, could you become one yourself? It’s a silly premise done reasonably well.
Honestly, though, this story missed a number of opportunities. Why didn’t Hamill’s character lose his eye during a baseball game? It makes it purely coincidental that he’s a baseball player. I mean, why not have him get struck by a baseball or have someone bump into him while sliding into a base? You know, something like that. It just seems like baseball should have been more directly laced into the story. That aside, “Eye” is watchable. It also features Twiggy, Roger Corman and Charles Napier.
Body Bags not the best anthology horror film out there, but I do think it’s decent. Honestly, I don’t see why Showtime didn’t pick it up as a series, as it definitely had potential to be more. Maybe they didn’t enjoy the finished segments enough, but it’s not like every Tales From the Crypt episode was a bold-faced masterpiece, either. The flaws in Body Bags are pretty easy to shrug off, if they are to be perceived at all. In fact, if you’re watching a horror movie just to judge its shortcomings, you’re probably not the biggest horror fan to begin with.
What are your thoughts on Body Bags? Ever been in one? Let us know in the comments!