Three stories courtesy of John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper, sounds like it can't miss, right? The results are mixed, but pretty interesting all the same.
The Gas Station is vintage Carpenter. Here he maximizes the effect from a truly simple premise and creates a genuinely scary story. It's simple, but the final minutes are riddled with tension and general uneasiness. The best of the bunch.
Hair is a truly funny story with a terrific performance by Stacy Keach. It goes way over the top towards the end, but still, it's highly amusing for the most part.
Eye, the weakest of the three, due to it's complete and utter predictability and complete failure of generating any real chills. It's fun to see Hamill and it's pretty gory but that's about it.
One terrific story, one pretty good and one pretty bad, all in all, it's worth watching but it's nothing spectacular.
John Carpenter presents Body Bags was originally made for television. It's the typical horror anthology movie with three stories, all bridged by Carpenter himself in a morgue setting no less. Carpenter wisely takes the humorous route. The first story is about a gas station attendant's first night on the job, which would be anyone's last night for sure. The story is more dumb and predictable, with the protagonist doing things we would all scream at her not to do in a theater, than scary. The flip ending is reminiscent of an episode of Rod Serling's "Night Gallery." The second story is about a vain man with thinning hair; Stacy Keach was absolutely hilarious. This is obviously the best segment. It's inventiveness, humor, and tongue-in-cheek attitude is sorely missing from the other two stories. The final story is better than the first one, but we've seen this before in "Twilight Zone" episodes more than once. The bridging story turns out to be quite humorous, with Carpenter being joined by two special guests at the end. Perhaps the best thing about Body Bags is the unusual cast members that were assembled. From regular film and television actors like Stacy Keach, David Warner, and Robert Carradine to the off-beat selections of Sheena Easton, Deborah Harry, and Twiggy, Body Bags has it all. Look closely for several genre directors: Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, Roger Corman, and Tobe Hooper. It was also great fun to see old veteran John Agar as the eye surgeon near the end of his career. This was at least as enjoyable as most of Carpenter's other films, which have been uneven over the years. **1/2 of 4 stars.
The first segment "The Gas Station" is the only frightening story in this trilogy. Set at night, apparently in the middle of nowhere, it has a plausibilty that the others lack (similarly to Hitchcock's "Psycho", it is scary because it's not completely beyond the realms of possibility). Plenty of atmosphere, a little gore and enough sudden shocks and suspense to make it worthwhile. The second segment is at times funny, but not at all scary. The third is an improvement on the second, but more fantastical than the first and therefore not as frightening.
The scenes with the man in the morgue, between the segments, are pretty weird. Lots of jokes about corpses. Fine, if you like that sort of thing.
Wraparound is humurous, first story freaky, secone story hilarious, third story gory5/10
This movie really wan't all that horrible. The wraparound was pretty funny (I loved the implants joke), but not scary at all, mostly meant for comic relief (which we only needed for the first story, but was great anyway). The first story was freaky, believable, and I definitely saw signs of Halloween in there. I suspected who the killer was, but was still surprised that Carpenter had the balls to do it. The second story was like something out of MadTV. It was so funny seeing everyone having hair excep him. If John Carpenter meant to scare us with this story, it didn't work, if he wanted to make us laugh, he succeeded admirably. Finally the third story. It was extremely gory, but if you consider gore the same as scares, then it could be considered scary. OTher than that, there was a slightly creepy vibe, nothing else. Overall, not bad, but not wonderful: 6.5/10
Cool, Solid Horror Anthology With EC Overtones5/10
BODY BAGS is a lot of fun until the unrelentingly grim final segment directed by Tobe Hooper, which is the best thing Hooper has done since Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. The other two segments are directed by John Carpenter, who also appears as a Crypt-Keeper-like character, and demonstrates why he has spent most of his time behind the camera.
Overall, I like the movie very much. The first segment is good, but also the weakest of the three. It also feels oddly out of place, as the next two stories both deal with medical horror, while it is simply a 50's style slasher-on-the-loose yarn. Despite the slight subject matter (and a poor performance by Alex Datcher in the lead role), it's a solid chiller with some good scares. David Naughton, Robert Carradine and Peter Jason are all good in supporting roles, while fellow horror directors Sam Raimi and Wes Craven have creepy cameos.
The second segment is great, and, unlike the other two, is an out-out comedy. Stacey Keach turns in one of his very best performances as a middle-aged man who dreads the prospect of going bald, and decides to try out a new experimental technique developed by scientist David Warner. It leads up to a great finale that is as disturbing as it is funny. Singers Deborah Harry and Sheena Easton have supporting parts.
The final segment is the polar opposite of the second. As stated earlier, it's directed by Tobe Hooper, and he shows a sense of the macabre here that he hasn't displayed since his CHAINSAW/FUNHOUSE days. A veteran baseball player is in a car accident which results in his eye being poked out. A surgeon suggests an experimental eye transplant. Unfortunately, the donor eye belonged to a homicidal maniac, and Hammill begins having nightmarish hallucinations and bouts of uncontrollable rage. The climax of the segment is unbelievably cruel and grim, recalling Hooper's early work. It's a genuinely unsettling and horrific little flick. Twiggy, Charles Napier, as well as horror icons John Agar and Roger Corman appear.
Carpenter's antics as the narrator are uncomfortably flat, and things don't get any better when an irritating Tom Arnold and a clueless Hooper show up in cameo roles as well. Despite the weak wraparound, I recommend this anthology to horror fans, particularly fans of the two directors' work.