Friday, October 14, 2016

Body Bags

Directed and starring John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper and written by Dan Angel and Billy Brown, Body Bags is an anthology film where a coroner and two morgue attendees tell three different stories relating to the bodies they’re analyzing. The first entitled The Gas Station is about a serial killer stalking a gas station attendee while the second entitled The Hair is about a botched hair transplant involving an alien parasite as both segments are directed by John Carpenter. The third entitled Eye is about a baseball player who receives an eye transplant unaware that it belonged to a killer that is trying to possess him as it is helmed by Tobe Hooper. Also starring Robert Carradine, Stacy Keach, David Warner, Twiggy, Sheena Easton, Mark Hamill, Tom Arnold, and Debbie Harry. Body Bags is a riveting and enjoyable film from John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper.

The film is essentially a trilogy of tales told by a coroner (John Carpenter) as it play to the bodies he is examining in one scary night. The first entitled The Gas Station is about a college student who works on her very first night as a gas station attendee as she deals with strange customers as well as the presence of a serial killer on the loose. The second story entitled The Hair is about a middle-aged man dealing with baldness as he goes to a mysterious doctor about a hair transplant where everything seems to go well until he discover alien parasites in his hair. The third and final story entitled Eye is about a baseball player who loses his right eye in a car accident where he goes into surgery to get a new one as he starts to see strange things involving dead bodies and such. All of it is told in different styles where screenwriters Dan Angel and Billy Brown play up some of the suspense where The Gas Station is about an unusual first day at work while Hair is about insecurities and vanities that eventually catches up to a man. Eye is about a man desperate to go back to baseball unaware of the horror he is seeing with his new eye.

Since the first two segments and inserts are directed by John Carpenter and Eye is helmed by Tobe Hooper with Larry Sulkin providing additional work on the insert scenes. Each segment is given a different feel as both Carpenter and Hooper both provide their own idea to their segments while the inserts where Carpenter plays the coroner are presented in a comedic manner. For The Gas Station, Carpenter creates something that is more of a suspense film as it is about a college student’s first day as a gas station attendant where there are bits of humor but also moments where Carpenter plays with the suspense. Much of his compositions in that segment and The Hair are quite simple where the latter is a bit more playful as Carpenter goes for something straightforward rather than make it a big-time horror piece. The scariest segment is definitely Eye where Hooper creates something that is more conventional in terms of the horror genre but prefers to play it out slowly as it also has some more stylistic compositions including surreal moments that play into the terror. Overall, Carpenter and Hooper create a fun and thrilling anthology film about terror.

Cinematographer Gary Kibbe does excellent work with the cinematography from the colorful look of the interiors at the morgue as well as the nighttime exterior scenes for The Gas Station and Eye. Editor Edward A. Warschilka does nice work with the editing as it is stylish with its rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense for all of the segments. Production designer Daniel A. Lomino and set decorator Cloudia Rebar do fantastic work with the look of the morgue as well as the gas station interiors for The Gas Station as well as the more straightforward look of the other segments.

The makeup work of Rick Baker and Greg LaCava, with hair stylist Carolyn Elias, do amazing work for the look of the mortician as well as the look of the new eye in Eye as well as the hair in The Hair. The special effects work of Howard Jensen is terrific as it play into the look of the parasites for The Hair. Sound editor Anthony Milch does superb work with the sound as it help create some of the chilling moments of suspense in The Gas Station and Eye. The film’s music by John Carpenter and Jim Lang is wonderful with Carpenter providing some unique electronic-based pieces for The Gas Station while going for kitsch-based jazz in The Hair while Lang provides a more symphonic score for Eye.

The film’s cast is great as it features an array of cameos from horror film icons as well as pop culture icons. For the scenes set in the morgue, John Carpenter is hilarious as the mortician while Tobe Hooper and Tom Arnold are terrific in their brief roles as the morgue attendees. In The Gas Station, the cameo appearances from Wes Craven as a customer, George Buck Flower as a homeless guy, and Sam Raimi as a dead guy are fun yet the short is largely focused on Robert Carradine in a superb role as the gas station attendant who shows the new girl what to do while Alex Datcher is wonderful as the new girl Anne who is stalked by a crazed serial killer. In The Hair, the appearances of model Kim Alexis and special makeup effects creator Gregory Nicotero as people with good hair are fun to watch while Debbie Harry is a hoot as a nurse trying to help the protagonist find the right look.

David Warner is excellent as Dr. Lock as the man who can help the character Richard find new hair while Sheena Easton is fantastic as Richard’s girlfriend Megan who tries to assure him that he looks fine. Stacy Keach is brilliant as Richard as a man who becomes insecure over his bald hair as he is eager to have a new look and feel happy only for things to go wrong. In Eye, the cameo appearances of Charles Napier as a baseball coach, Roger Corman as a doctor, and John Agar as the surgeon are just amazing to watch while Twiggy is terrific as Brent’s wife Cathy who becomes worried about her husband’s troubled behavior. Mark Hamill is marvelous as Brent Matthews as baseball player who loses his eye in a car accident as he gets a new eye but becomes unhinged by what he is seeing as Hamill definitely camps it up for the performance.

Body Bags is a remarkable film from John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper. It’s a fun anthology film that feature a trilogy of stories created by two masters of horror as it’s a film that is about terror at its most chilling. In the end, Body Bags is an exhilarating and fun film from John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper.

Tobe Hooper Films: (Eggshells) - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - (Eaten Alive) - (Salem’s Lot) - (The Funhouse) - (Poltergeist) - Lifeforce - (Invaders from Mars) - (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) - (Spontaneous Combustion) - (I’m Dangerous Tonight) - (Night Terrors) - (The Mangler) - (The Apartment Complex) - (Crocodile (2000 film)) - (Toolbox Murders) - (Mortuary) - (Djinn)

John Carpenter Films: Dark Star - Assault on Precinct 13 - Someone's Watching Me! - Halloween - Elvis - The Fog - Escape from New York - The Thing - Christine - Starman - Big Trouble in Little China - Prince of Darkness - They Live - Memoirs of an Invisible Man - In the Mouth of Madness - Village of the Damned - Escape from L.A. - Vampires - Ghosts of Mars - The Ward

The Auteurs #60: John Carpenter Part 1 - Part 2

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