“Natural causes… Natural causes… Natural causes… I hate natural causes! Give me a big stab wound to poke at and then I’m happy.”
Body Bags is a 1993 American horror comedy anthology television film originally made for television, featuring three unconnected stories, with bookend segments featuring John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper as deranged morgue attendees. It is most notable for its celebrity cameos.
A creepy-looking coroner introduces three different horror tales involving his current work on cadavers in “body bags”.
“The Gas Station”
Anne (Alex Datcher) is a young college student who arrives for her first job working the night shift at an all-night gas station near Haddonfield, Illinois (a reference to Halloween). The leaving worker, Bill (Robert Carradine), reminds her that a serial killer has broken out of a mental hospital. He cautions her not to leave the booth at the station without the keys because the door locks automatically. After Bill leaves, Anne is alone and the tension mounts as she deals with various late-night customers seeking to buy gas for a quick fill-up, purchase cigarettes or just use the restroom key. She is unsure whether any of them might be the escaped maniac. A homeless transient asks to use the restroom. He’s gone for a long time and when a partying couple arrives, she asks the man to check on the bum. He returns and tells her the homeless man is sleeping in there. She goes to investigate herself, and discovers an elaborate and gruesome drawing on the wall. But the bathroom is completely empty… Was she a fool for leaving the booth? Is the killer already close by?
This was a pretty great one to start off with. It has tension and atmosphere, as you analyse each customer to see who the killer could be. Alex Datcher plays her strong, independent role well, and you can easily root for her to survive. My favourite moment was the cameo of An American Werewolf in London’s David Naughton.
Richard Coberts (Stacy Keach) is a middle-aged businessman who is very self-conscious about his thinning hair. This obsession has caused a rift between him and his long-suffering girlfriend Megan (Sheena Easton). Richard answers a television ad about a “miracle” hair transplant procedure. He pays a visit to the office, and meets the shady Dr. Lock, who agrees to give Richard a solution to make his hair grow back. The next day, Richard wakes up and removes the bandage around his head, and is overjoyed to find that he has a full head of hair. But soon he becomes increasingly sick and fatigued, and finds his hair continuing to grow. Additionally, it’s growing out of parts of his body, where hair does not normally grow. Is this a temporary side effect or something more sinister?
This instalment is my favourite, it mixes comedy with horror perfectly and I really sympathize with Richard. There are some truly hilarious moments and I have to say, Richard looks amazing with his new hair (that reminds me strangely of Brad Pitt’s wig from Interview With The Vampire…)
Brent Matthews (Mark Hamill) is a baseball player whose life and career take a turn for the worse when he gets into a serious car accident in which his right eye is gouged out. Unwilling to admit that his career is over, he jumps at the chance to undergo an experimental surgical procedure. It would replace his eye with one from a recently deceased person. But soon after the surgery he begins to see things out of his new eye that others cannot see. He begins having nightmares of killing women and having sex with them. Brent seeks out the doctor who operated on him. The doctor tells him that the donor of his new eye was a recently executed serial killer and necrophile. They killed several young women, and then had sex with their dead bodies. Brent becomes convinced that the spirit of the dead killer is taking over his body so that he can resume killing women. He flees back to his house and tells his skeptical wife, Cathy (Twiggy), about what is happening. Will he be able to get rid of the tainted eye or will it get rid of him?
Eye is my second favourite instalment and my third favourite Mark Hamill role (Luke, Joker and now, Brent Matthews). Mark Hamill acts amazingly and his southern accent is truly something… On top of that, his wife is the British model Twiggy (strangest cameo ever). I have to say even though it’s a fairly bog standard tale, it’s definitely made entertaining by our leading couple. Mark Hamill definitely makes this worth watching.
Over all, Body Bags is a simplistic and cliché ride but enjoyable nonetheless. I often find anthology movies have more terrible instalments than good but I was pleasantly surprised that I was thoroughly entertained by all 3. The coroner character (John Carpenter) tied this horror comedy together nicely, even if he was sometimes too hammy. The epitome of a late night horror movie you’d catch on a random channel, only to try to be bewildered by all the eccentric cameos.