One down, one to go.
Last night, I finally watched Body Bags, the second-to-last movie I need to watch in order to have seen everything John Carpenter ever directed. All that’s left now is Dark Star, which I’m saving to watch with my good pal Reyna Sparby, because it is her favorite movie. So who knows when that’ll happen?
How was Body Bags? Well, it was a TV movie made for Showtime in 1993, if that tells you anything. Apparently it was originally intended as a Tales from the Crypt-style horror anthology TV series, which was later dropped and the three completed segments worked into an anthology film, with a wraparound segment featuring Carpenter himself as a wise-cracking coroner. The first two segments are directed by Carpenter, with the last being helmed by Tobe Hooper.
Body Bags has been called “John Carpenter at his funniest,” and while that may not be true, it is pretty amusing, and Carpenter’s own horror host schtick is the best part of the film, making me kind of wish that there had been a Body Bags TV show, just so I could watch the host segments. The segments are star-studded, for values of “star,” including guest appearances by other horror directors of renown such as Wes Craven and Sam Raimi (playing a corpse). Of the three segments, “The Gas Station” was probably my favorite, though it also may have brought the least to the table that was new. It felt, in some ways, like a natural extension of Carpenter’s work on Somebody’s Watching Me!, with its serial killer juxtaposed against the lechery and weirdness that the segment’s female protagonist has to put up with from just about every guy she encounters.
When all is said and done, Body Bags is more fun than actually good, and is situated firmly somewhere in the middle ground of Carpenter’s roller coaster career. But if there’d been a show, I’d have watched every week, just for Carpenter hamming it up talking to corpses and drinking formaldehyde, so that’s something.