Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on the new internet machine.
re getting with Body Bags, made for television, albeit it made for Showtime.
The word is, evidently, that Showtime wanted a serial to compete with Tales from the Crypt. Body Bags was that attempt, and it was scuttled before it really got started. The three filmed segments were put together with a cobbled framing story, and this was the result. There’s a great deal in Body Bags that is a lot of fun and works really well. The first is that it is absolutely loaded with cameos. The second is that the shorts here aren’t five or even 15 minutes long. They’re all closer to half an hour, giving them a good amount of room to really tell the story without diving head-first into jump scares and gore.
What this means is that there are only three stories in Body Bags in addition to the framing story. That framing story features a morgue attendant (John Carpenter himself) looking at the various bodies in the morgue, telling some of the stories that are the reasons the bodies have come in. John Carpenter has always been fairly cadaverous looking, so he’s a dandy choice for the Crypt Keeper-like host.
The first story involves a night worker at a gas station. Harkening back to Halloween, Carpenter sets this story around Haddonfield, IL. We learn that an inmate has broken out of the nearby mental hospital and is almost certainly going to begin killing once again. This is the first night on the job for our heroine clerk (Alex Datcher), who confronts a series of strange and suspicious customers. Cameos in this sequence include horror directors Wes Craven and Sam Raimi along with David Naughton, George “Buck” Flowers, Peter Jason, and Robert Carradine.
The second story features Stacy Keach as a man who feels less than manly because he is losing his hair. He goes to see a hair restoration specialist (David Warner), despite the fact that his girlfriend (Sheena Easton!) says she doesn’t really care about his thinning hair. He gets plenty of hair, but it may be more than he bargains for. This short also feathers Debbie Harry as the doctor’s nurse.
The third and final story sees baseball player Brent Matthews (Mark Hamill) lose an eye in an accident. An experimental surgery performed by Dr. Lang (John Agar) works. Brent is able to see, but he also begins having a series of disturbing visions of dead and dismembered women. Other cameos include Roger Corman as another doctor and Twiggy as Brent’s wife as well as Charles Napier as Brent’s manager.
The shorts are decent, if not great. The third segment could probably be extended into something like a feature length film. The other two shorts go about as far as they can in the time they have. The middle story, Hair, in particular feels exactly like a Tales from the Crypt episode. In fact, all three of them to do to some extent, but that’s the one that feels the most cheese-filled and in many ways the “safest” of the three. The first, Gas Station, is probably the closest to being filmed like an actual movie—it plays a great deal like one of Carpenter’s slashers.
Body Bags is billed as a comedy, but it’s really not that funny. The third story (Eye) is actually quite gruesome in places. The interstitial segments are absolutely played for humor, and the second story does go for something that feels like camp, or like it belonged in one of the variations of Creepshow.
Body Bags isn’t a great movie. It may not even be a good movie, but it is a fun movie through and through. Imagine someone putting together a show like this that had a multiple season run. Clearly, based only the promise and the name, Body Bags was able to draw some decent talent to have fun in the movies. That’s laudable. No one is trying to save the world here. No one is seeking to change hearts and minds. It’s just good, mildly nasty fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Why to watch Body Bags: The stories are given enough room to breathe.
Why not to watch: It feels off tonally in terms of consistency between stories.