Combustible Celluloid
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With: John Carpenter, Tom Arnold, Tobe Hooper, Robert Carradine, Alex Datcher, Peter Jason, Molly Cheek, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, David Naughton, George 'Buck' Flower, Lucy Boryer, Roger Rooks, Stacy Keach, David Warner, Sheena Easton, Dan Blom, Attila, Kim Alexis, Greg Nicotero, Debbie Harry, Mark Hamill, Twiggy, John Agar, Roger Corman, Charles Napier, Eddie Velez, Betty Muramoto, Bebe Drake, Sean McClory, Robert Lewis Bush, Gregory Alpert
Written by: Billy Brown, Dan Angel
Directed by: John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality and horror violence
Running Time: 91
Date: 08/03/1993

Body Bags (1993)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Hair Slay

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

John Carpenter was hired by Showtime to do a TV series to compete with HBO's Tales from the Crypt, but the project was scrapped. So three episodes were assembled into a movie that was briefly shown on the network in 1993 and then disappeared. Body Bags probably should have been better known, because it's actually pretty good and lots of fun. (Shout! Factory gave it one of their horror spectacular Blu-ray releases in 2013, and it has been picking up viewers since then.)

Carpenter stars in the wraparound segments as a formaldehyde-sipping coroner with a dark sense of humor, and then directed the first segment. Anne (Alex Datcher) starts her new job on the night shift at a gas station, and a killer is on the loose. (The gas station is near Haddonfield, Illinois.) Carpenter builds the tension slowly with a series of unsettling events, before the real hacking and slashing starts. Wes Craven appears in this segment and Sam Raimi plays a corpse. Carpenter also directed the silly second segment, with Stacy Keach as a man worried about his thinning hair. He goes to see a mysterious doctor (David Warner) and soon is growing more hair than he could have counted on, with a terrible side effect. Sheena Easton plays Keach's girlfriend, and Debbie Harry plays a nurse.

Tobe Hooper directed the effective third segment, with Mark Hamill as a pro ballplayer, a pitcher, who loses his eye in a car accident. He receives a transplant eye, but unfortunately the new eye came from the body of a killer, and he now "sees" what the killer saw. Roger Corman appears as a doctor in this one, and former model Twiggy plays Hamill's wife. Then, Hooper and Tom Arnold appear alongside Carpenter in the closing wraparound. None of this represents the best of either Carpenter or Hooper, but its light tone and expert construction make it worth seeing.

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