Review of "Body Bags"
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RELEASED: 1993, Cert. 18RUNNING TIME: Approx. 1hr 31mins
DIRECTORS: John Carpenter (The Gas Station and Hair) and Tobe Hooper (Eye)SCREENPLAY: Billy Brown & Dan Angel
PRODUCERS: Dan Angel, John Carpenter & Sandy KingMUSIC: John Carpenter & Jim Lang
MAIN CAST:-John Carpenter as The Coroner (The Morgue)
Alex Datcher as Ann (The Gas Station)
Sam Raimi as Dead Bill (The Gas Station)
David Naughton as Pete (The Gas Station)
Stacy Keach as Richard Roberts (Hair)
Sheena Easton as Megan (Hair)
David Warner as Dr Lock (Hair)
Mark Hamill as Brent Matthews (Eye)
Twiggy as Cathy Matthews (Eye)
Roger Corman as Dr Bregman (Eye)
(Also featuring Debbie Harry, Wes Craven and Robert Carradine)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FILM ONLY REVIEWBody Bags is a tongue-in-cheek horror spoof consisting of three separate stories with narrative at the beginning, in between each story and at the end, by The Coroner. These narrative pieces are known as The Morgue.
Originally made for American TV, Body Bags is the kind of film one generally wouldn’t imagine perhaps even passing the censors, let alone appealing en masse to a US audience snuggled up at home with beer and popcorn in some cosy little ‘mum’s apple pie’ type community, so upon watching it really came as a surprise to me.The first piece of narrative by The Coroner is barking mad, but in a deliciously original way. It is also quite gory, but stands well as an introduction to each of the three following stories. In between the stories, we return to The Coroner who gives a brief introduction on the next and the next…..and, at the end he returns with a macabre little twist/surprise which did make me smile.
Story One is The Gas Station where Ann, a student studying psychology and trying to make a bit of extra money, takes a job at a filling station and her first stint is the night shift. She is warmly greeted by the amiable co-worker Pete who shows her the basics of what needs to be done, then he leaves. Ann tries to settle into the night shift, but feels a little uneasy as she is totally on her own in a locked office space….then, the first customer arrives. From that point on, Ann is thrown into an eerie kind of turmoil whereby she doesn’t know who to trust any more.Story Two, called Hair, is about a man (Richard Roberts) who in middle age finds that his hair is thinning on top. He can’t bear the thought of going bald even though his girlfriend Megan insists he looks fine – so, after seeing an advert on TV where somebody claims to be able to restore full hair growth in men, Richard phones the number given then after meeting with Dr Lock, undergoes this new-fangled treatment which is designed to simply give Richard a decent head of hair and it does….but, at what cost?
Story Three is Eye. Brent Matthews is a keen baseball player and would give anything to be famous in that field. One night Brent is driving home in a terrible thunderstorm and whilst he takes his eyes off the road for a moment to fumble for a music cassette to play, a deer runs into the path of his car. Brent swerves to avoid the deer and crashes his car into a tree, then as his windscreen shatters, a shard of glass embeds itself into one of his eyes. Later in hospital Brent is told that he will lose that eye, but another doctor offers him the chance of receiving a transplanted eye which he jumps at the chance of simply so that he can pick up the threads of his baseball playing once more, as perfect vision is needed. Once home and with his new eye which he is very pleased with, his wife Cathy announces she is pregnant….then, Brent’s behaviour begins to change in a pretty bizarre way.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As the opening credits of Body Bags rolled, I wasn’t expecting too much from it. I hadn’t even checked the film’s release date on the DVD sleeve, so for some reason was expecting something from the early 1970s when this method of creating horror films was fashionable in that three or more stories would be strung together as a whole film….the most famous example from that era probably is the Hammer Horror classic Tales From The Crypt. Once the first piece of narrative from The Coroner got underway, I realised Body Bags to be a far more recent film (even though from the 1990s), as they probably wouldn’t have got away with what is immediately obvious as a gore-fest spoof horror trilogy back in the 1970s.The music to Body Bags is similar throughout each of the three sections, largely being electronic in nature but not too intrusive and from a mood aspect, does suit all of the stories.
Surprisingly, the acting throughout is pretty good – OK not up to Oscar standard, but more than acceptable, although Twiggy did leave a little bit to be desired plus her effort at adopting an American accent is a tad on the shoddy side. However, all three of these stories – albeit weird and quite bloodthirsty – are well-constructed to the point where her somewhat questionable input didn’t really matter.All through these three separate stories (which aren’t linked in any way) I was totally gripped and often amused, although I did have to turn my head away from the screen here and there because the gory bits are, albeit over the top, presented in a very realistic way. I wouldn’t say it is gore for the sake of gore though – merely it is put across in overdrive because of the strong spoof element. Above all, Body Bags is intended to be amusing more than anything else, and it does press all the right buttons in that department, being a very clever brand of darkly sardonic, black humour.
Although each story is about as likely as me being impregnated by a creature from a different solar system whilst I’m hunting for fish fingers on special offer in the middle of my weekly Morrisons shopping trip, the tales are very well-constructed and imaginative. Also you really, whilst watching, have no idea how they are going to end and each has a nicely sinister twist.I guess my overall favourite was the first one, The Gas Station, as up to a point it is probably more feasible than the other two, but Hair has to win the accolade of being the most imaginative and off the wall – apart of course from The Coroner’s narrative pieces which are beautifully and bizarrely quirky. There are some quite good special effects used in Eye, but I’m afraid that final story was marred slightly by Twiggy’s acting not being up to par.
In all honesty I was unable to tear myself away from the screen during this quirky spoof gore-fest trilogy as I was fascinated, albeit in a very grim and gruesome way….plus of course, amused in a darkly sardonic way. The humour in Body Bags is off the wall, but nonetheless intelligent and well thought out. However, it may not appeal to everybody. I think to fully appreciate this humour, you have to be a bit off-centre yourself….and, I greatly appreciated it.All in all, I was really entertained by Body Bags and very pleased that I’d seen it even if I did have to shut my eyes or turn briefly away from the screen a couple of times. I laughed, I was interested, drawn in and enthralled. I’d not say it is a great film, but it certainly is a very good one which is very well constructed and definitely off the wall unusual.
As to whether I’d recommend Body Bags, my answer is a definite “yes”, especially to those who have an appreciation of the darker side of life together with its humour, but I’d also imagine that it may be a bit too gruesome for some people. It certainly isn’t one for the kids, even though there is hardly any sex and no swearing….well, I don’t remember any swearing. The situations and circumstances are unusual plus no holds are barred when it comes to blood, squelching, body innards and other stuff that might put you off your evening snack – so, eat before you start to watch!I hand out four stars and when the opening credits rolled, I certainly wasn’t expecting Body Bags to be a film worthy of more than two or at maximum three stars, but I was pleasantly and gorily surprised.
Would I watch it again? Yes, but it won’t have the same impact on further viewings, simply because I now know how the stories pan out and what the twists are, but the humour element would easily be worth giving it another go.In summary, Body Bags is a well-constructed, mostly well-acted trio of stories with narrative in between….the whole thing being a collection of oddball events with some nice little twists to round off each story, plenty of dark/black humour plus that totally unexpected finale from The Coroner in the morgue…..and, I really enjoyed every single minute. It was also lovely to see the rather delicious David Naughton again some twelve or so years after his lead role in An American Werewolf In London made him famous.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~At the time of writing and on Amazon, you can pick up a copy of Body Bags for around £5.98. There are several offers of this film available but it isn’t clear on any of them whether the DVDs are new or used and for each offer, the price varies by a few pence either way. I assume that standard delivery charges will apply.
Thanks for reading!
Product Information : Body Bags
Manufacturer's product description
Listed on Ciao since: 11/12/2000