31 Days of Terror: Body Bags
31 Days of Terror will cover a wide array of horror films leading up to Halloween. We'll be posting our thoughts and feelings on some of our favorites every day for the next 31 days. If your favorite doesn't make it, it doesn't mean we don't like it, so speak up in the comments below!
Inspired by HBO's Tales From the Crypt series, Showtime tried to create its own anthology series with the help of John Carpenter. Sadly, after filming began, they scrapped the show and converted it into the film Body Bags.
Body Bags is an anthology film with three tales presented to the viewer by the Coroner (John Carpenter). The three tales include "The Gas Station," "Hair," and "Eye;" the first two directed by Carpenter himself and the latter by Tobe Hooper. "The Gas Station" follows a young college student working overnight at the local gas station when news reports chime in that a woman was found murdered nearby. "Hair" is about male vanity and the great lengths the main character goes to regain the one thing he cares about most. In "Eye," a famous baseball player is in an accident resulting in the loss of his right eye and after replacing it in a risky surgery, is seeing horrific images.
This is another fun movie most people don't know about as it was meant to be the start of something big. I mean, you've got John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper working together, with appearances by Wes Craven, Robert Carradine, Mark Hammill, Stacy Keach, and an unrecognizable Sam Raimi, but for some reason Showtime decided to scrap it. It's a shame really as this is one of the most fun horror movies out there, mixing dark humor and horror perfectly.
The lighting in "The Gas Station" is on point as is the camera work with a lot of handheld shots that put the viewer right in the action. And if there's one thing Carpenter excels at, it's making the viewers and the characters feel isolated and just like The Thing, this gas station feels uncomfortably desolate. No one should be alone at night around this place.
"Hair," also directed by Carpenter, is a complete shift from "The Gas Station," and feels more like a callback to They Live, focusing on our beauty obsessed culture and the lengths we go to achieve that perfect body. It's a little body horror mixed with a shampoo commercial and it's pulled off extremely well. The smooth jazz played throughout this story really nails it too.
"Eye," directed by Tobe Hooper, feels like a classic Hitchcock tale but lasts longer than it should. The quick cuts when the character can't differentiate reality from fantasy gets a little old after the first couple of times but the initial setup is good and Mark Hamill's performance is good as well.
The star of this movie to me is John Carpenter as the Coroner, really channeling the Crypt Keeper but creating his own macabre demeanor with the character. While the Crypt Keeper feels evil, the Coroner feels more like a fun uncle, especially with that poppy synth rock playing anytime he's on screen.
A solid two out of three ain't bad, and Body Bags is a lost gem that should be dug back up.