Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Body Bags

"Body Bags" (1993, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, 187 Corp., Showtime Networks) is a made for TV horror anthology set in a morgue. The film was initially meant to become a weekly show similar to "Tales from the Crypt" but was axed, and so the completed pieces were pieced together into an anthology.

A creepy coroner (John Carpenter) sets us up for each segment, inspired by the bodies he uncovers from the bags. There are three tales all-in:

The Gas Station
Anne (Alex Datcher) is a student starting her new part time job as the overnight petrol station attendant. As if that job is not just creepy enough, she has to deal with knowing that a dangerous lunatic has escaped the asylum (she was kindly warned by her new colleague, Bill (Robert Carradine)). Soon all of her customers appear to be a little strange and Anne is frantic, not knowing who could be the killer! Horror hero cameos include Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, David Naughton, George Buck Flower and Molly Cheek).

The short is a bit of a lark with so many horror favourites gracing the screen with their nutty characters and a fair bit of bludgeoning. While it's your typical 'lone woman being stalked by a serial killer' plot, it's fun in its familiarity and really kicks off the film.

Richard (Stacy Keach) is hitting middle age. His girlfriend, Megan (Sheena Easton), is getting exasperated by Richard's obsession with his looks and his quickly thinning locks. In his desperation, Richard signs up for a hair transplant operation which appears successful. Maybe a little too successful...

A bit of a laugh with some effects that aged a little, but add to the charm of the film. I thought I knew where this one was going but after a point it changes tack slightly which pleased me. Yes, it's hardly 'scary' but I don't watch old anthologies for scare factor, they're purely for comedy. Cameos include Debbie Harry and David Warner as the mad doctor and his nurse.

Brent Matthews (Mark Hamill) is a baseball player. He is involved in a car accident where his eye is gouged out. Brent opts for some experimental surgery that is not considered so sci-fi these days, and receives an eye transplant in the hopes that he can return to his beloved game. But, similarly to the later 2002 and 2008 Singaporean and American blockbusters both called "The Eye", he begins to see things that are not there through the new eye: horrible things. Brent becomes suspicious that his new eye belonged to a killer and goes back to the doctor to investigate. Brent realises that there is only one way to end this problem... Cameos include Twiggy and Roger Corman.

A few gruesome bits make this one entertaining but it was admittedly my least favourite short of the three. In retrospect this one seems very tropey, but it's not its fault; it came first afterall!

We end back in the morgue where our creepy coroner reveals he is more than at first appears.

The film comes off as surprisingly low budget, but this may just be a sign of ageing SFX. While it's nothing new in terms of plot or set up, it's a playful horror anthology and is funny, self aware and even a little gruesome at times. Team this one with Creepshow 1 and you're onto a bloody good night in!

[Image: 187 Corp.]