Welcome to 31 Days of Streaming Horror. Every day this October we’ll be highlighting a different streaming horror movie to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Today’s entry: Body Bags (1993).
Now Streaming on Shudder
Sub-Genre: Goofball horror anthology with John Carpenter in ghoul make-up and Mark Hamill with a mustache
Best Setting to Watch It In: A morgue, preferably with a nice formaldehyde martini in hand
How Scary Is It?: This leans more on humor than horror. That said, there are some genuine jolts of fear and some gory fun
Aside from Creepshow, there’s no such thing as the perfect horror anthology movie. But gosh darn it, Body Bags tries! This anthology flick was originally planned as a TV show on Showtime – their own version of HBO’s Tales From the Crypt. But Showtime changed their mind, which is a pity, but at least we have what’s here. Horror legends John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper helm the three segments here, featuring cameos from folks like Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, Deborah Harry, Tom Arnold, and B-movie legend Roger Corman, just to name a few.
All three segments are hosted by Carpenter himself, playing a disgusting character known as The Coroner. He’s basically a non-puppet version of the Crypt Keeper, and a big part of the fun of Body Bags is watching Carpenter ham it up as he moves about an empty morgue, showing absolutely no respect for the dead. No one would ever accuse John Carpenter of being a great actor, but he certainly goes all-in as his horror host.
Carpenter’s Coroner spins three tales of terror. The first involves a late-night gas station attendant (Alex Datcher) being targeted by an escaped mental patient. It’s the simplest of the stories, but the most traditional – killer stalks the girl, girl fights back. The story is even set in Haddonfield, the town from Carpenter’s Halloween.
Every horror anthology needs at least one dud, and Body Bags has one in the form of its second story, in which Stacy Keach plays a balding man who goes in for radical hair-restoration treatment. It’s painfully stupid! Although it does have some nice gross-out moments. But maybe skip it, because the third and final segment is the best. It features a familiar horror trope: the transplanted body part that came from someone evil. Mark Hamill is a pro baseball player who ends up losing his eye in a car accident. Desperate to cling to his career, he agrees to undergo an experimental eye transplant treatment. The twist: the eye belonged to a recently executed serial killer, and now Hamill keeps having visions of the killer’s crimes, while also being inspired to commit some murders of his own. This segment is the one played entirely straight, with no winking humor, and therefore packs the most punch. Hamill is quite good in the lead, going to some particularly dark places.
If you’re looking for less fright and more fun as you tick down the Halloween season, or if you just want to see John Carpenter tell terrible puns while forcing severed heads to make-out, Body Bags is for you.
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