What do you get when you combine the talents of John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, and a slew of famous names? You get Body Bags. Body Bags begins with a Cryptkeeper-like character in the morgue, played by Carpenter himself. There are three stories, the first two crafted by Carpenter, and the final with Tobe Hooper at the helm. The best of the three is the first, which features cameos by Wes Craven as a derelict and Sam Raimi as a corpse, as well as a reference to Carpenter’s Halloween. It doesn’t hurt that it succeeds in creating edge-of-your-seat tension and suspense. The second feature includes Stacy Keach, and even contains ’80s icon Blondie (Deborah Harry) as a nurse. This one involves a new hair-growth treatment that just may be too good to be true. And the third segment, directed by Tobe Hooper, stars Mark Hamill as a baseball player that gets more than an eyeful when he receives the first-ever eye transplant (that was a pun, by the way). This one has an awesome final shot, and it too is very original and entertaining.
What makes Body Bags really work is the “fun” feel it has. This wasn’t made to be a moneymaker. Rather, it was made for Carpenter and Hooper to have some fun with filmmaking. Carpenter’s acting part is a riot, and all three segments have a free and uninhibited feel about them. Sam Raimi and Wes Craven in the very serious first segment will put a smile on any film buff’s face. Likewise, seeing the goofiness in the second segment is a real treat. If you enjoyed Stacy Keach on Titus, then you’ll love him here. Watching him complain and worry about his balding head is pretty damned funny. As for the final installment, the one involving Mark Hamill losing his eye and gaining a new outlook on life (another lame joke…jeez, someone needs to put me down), I feel that it brings us back to a more dramatic atmosphere. The use of the eyes as the “windows to the soul” here is very thought provoking…as well as fun to watch.
Overall, this is a real treat to a horror fan. The film gives us laughs with Carpenter’s turn as the ‘Morgue-Guy’, chills with the first and third installments, and an enjoyable comic interlude in between.
GORE: There are some nice effects scattered throughout the film, but Carpenter’s autopsy is by far the coolest.
ACTING: Good, solid performances by good, solid actors.
DIRECTING: Carpenter- He really shines here. The man is having a great time with this. Hooper- He’s disappointed with a lot of his post-Chainsaw Massacre films (Lifeforce, Texas…2, etc.) but here I can’t find anything to complain about.
DO I RECOMMEND?: If you dig Tales from the Crypt, John Carpenter, or Tobe Hooper, make sure to give it a twirl. If you don’t give a rat’s @$$ about those things, then rent it anyway. It’s a good movie, and that’s all that needs to be said.