Written by / 5/11/2015 / 1 Comment / , , , , , , , ,

JOHN CARPENTER DIRECTS 'BODY BAGS' ALONG W/ TOBE HOOPER

Carpenter's homage to Hooper circa 1993 overall: ***1/2
John Carpenter, director of horror classics HALLOWEEN and THE FOG, must have been influenced by TALES FROM THE CRYPT, the anthology series hosted by a longhaired smart-ass skeletal Crypt Keeper that, as The Coroner in a dusty morgue, the lanky Carpenter (donning ghoulish makeup) is fairly reminiscent of...

And the famous director’s jovially wicked performance seems like he's having fun with family and friends, showing them how the acting bug rubbed off after working with good to great actors and actresses, but he's too self conscious to make the wacky character really work. Although it's a decent enough gimmick to introduce the segment: Seeing each dead body, especially those wrapped in BODY BAGS — which means the cause isn't natural — leads creatively into three cable TV stories… The first vignette, one of two directed by Carpenter himself, is aptly titled...

1. THE GAS STATION ****
THE GAS STATION: Where we center on attractive college-aged employee Peggy (Alex Datcher) on her first night at the self-serve garage, in what seems like the middle of nowhere...

Handed over by Robert Carradine’s super-friendly Bill, Peggy's shift is full of surprise visitors: customers filling their tanks seen outside the glass  structure.

The thrills rely on whenever Peggy steps out of the safety zone, finding out which of several quirky customers are dangero. Then, when the killer is revealed, the suspense shifts to gruesome and, despite part of the fun being lost, it's still a neat, nifty, contained little ride. Perhaps the best thing Carpenter did in the 1990's, and then he lightens up with...

Sheena Easton faces Stacy Keach's bad hair day
HAIR: With Stacy Keach as an egotistical middle-aged man trying to stop the inevitable balding process. This is the comic relief segment and also very predictable — when Keach’s Robert finds a successful way of acquiring hair from a cheesy television specialist, played by David Warner, it’s too much a good thing.

2. HAIR ***
A montage where a jealous Robert watches men, women and dogs with flowing manes, orchestrated by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Almost Cut My Hair, is as good as it gets, and perhaps could have lasted a bit longer for Keach to serve his end results more...

The skit’s wry, satirical humor far exceeds the eventual comeuppance for a character taking a short cut, leading to a “careful what you wish for” twist that's extremely similar to Stephen King's second story from CREEPSHOW where he himself literally gathers moss...

Also, Keach's girlfriend's so cute (singer Sheena Easton), loving and understanding, it's a wonder he ever needed anything else. Basically, HAIR shows Carpenter's fun side of direction between his dark-comedy acting chops as the show's Master of Ceremonies, and changing gears from slasher to black comedy to psychological thriller, our next and last victim is another unlucky fella in another fitfully and sparsely titled tale called...

3. EYE **1/2
EYE: Only his situation, losing an eye from a near-fatal car accident, is much more dire and necessary: In order to continue playing professional baseball, Brent Matthews, played by STAR WARS icon Mark Hamill, receives a donor’s eye. Soon he sees horrible images: from a zombie climbing out of his dirt-filled, pool-constructed backyard to bloody arms reaching from the garbage disposal…

John Agar and Roger Corman
As EYE continues, STAR WARS legend Mark Hamill becomes more and more edgy and over-the-top, his voice transforming into a Southern preacher while madness gets the best, or rather, the worst of him, acting-wise.

Mark Hamill on what was called a payphone
Directed Tobe Hooper (with more cameos: which include, as the lead doctor, former b movie actor John Agar along with b producer legend Roger Corman and a a far more obscure Sean McClory from RING OF FEAR as a priest)...

From the man behind THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and FUNHOUSE, it's the second scariest after GAS STATION and intentionally the most terrifying on an exploitation cinema level. But since Carpenter's HAIR has a few worthy laughs, EYE is perhaps the dullest overall, dragging at times and while eerie never all that scary and is basically Mark Hamill having more ghastly fun than the audience, which really isn't such a bad thing. And unlike the others, this particular story could have been prolonged into a feature-length film, making it feel like an incomplete movie as opposed to a complete vignette. So while BODY BAGS is no CREEPSHOW (or even CAT'S EYE), it's definitely worth a midnight gander.
Mark Hamill in Body Bags seqment Eye directed by Tobe Hooper
Gas station bathroom artwork in the John Carpenter story THE GAS STATION
John Carpenter hosts and directs two of three in Body Bags
Lucy Boryer and her perfect asset in THE GAS STATION
Alex Datcher in Body Bags THE GAS STATION facing...
Wes Craven craves attention from Alex Datcher in THE GAS STATION
"Kiss and make up" says John Carpenter's hybrid of Crypt Keeper and Beetlejuice
Deborah Harry and Stacy Keach in Carpenter's second segment HAIR Deborah Harry Body Bags
Sheena Easton and Stacy Keach in HAIR by John Carpenter from BODY BAGS
Alex Datcher with Lucy Boryer in Body Bags: The Gas Station
Another of Alex Datcher who has the cutest scream queen butt in horror cinema from Body Bags The Gas Station
Alex Datcher in THE GAS STATION from John Carpenter's BODY BAGS
Mark Hamill and the not so twiggy Twiggy in EYE from Body Bags by Tobe Hooper
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1 comment:

  1. The character's name in 'The Gas Station' segment, is Anne, not Peggy. Peggy is the friend who drops Anne off at work.

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