John Carpenter presents "Body Bags", in which it reads true as he plays very-well looking coroner (well he might not be as what he seems) late at night fooling around in a morgue, while spitting out macabre jokes (visual and verbal) and then introducing us to three buoyant little stories. They range from horrific, humorous and simply bizarre with a "Tales from the Crypt" spin to them. In this low-budget TV production Carpenter would direct the first two; "The Gas Station" and "Hair", but the third story "The Eye" would be fronted by director Tobe Hopper. Carpenter and Hooper wouldn't be the only recognizable names, as the cast line-up is rather mouth-watering. You got Stacy Keach, David Warner, Mark Hamill, David Naughton, Robert Carradine, Deborah Harry, Twiggy, George Buck Flower, Charles Napier, John Agar, Roger Corman and a minor cameo from Tom Arnold. Also some horror participants have tiny parts; Sam Ramini, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper and make-up/special effects maestro Gregory Nicotero.
The first story; "The Gas Station" starring Alex Datcher, Robert Carrdine and David Naughton is probably my favourite of the lot. It's the most straight-forward, but effectively atmospheric (very well photographed with its encroaching angles) and suspenseful, which sees a lady on her first day of the job looking over an isolated gas station late one-night night, where she becomes a target of a satanic serial killer. Quite high-tempo with its grounded cat-and-mouse layout. You really do feel the growing unease displayed by Datcher's character and the tension that unfolds from its eerily forlorn backdrop, but this exercise into familiarity just works. Some fruity characters also helps, and it's not without its parodying humour either to balance it out.
"Hair" the second story, starts off with a natural fear before becoming quite an offbeat and quirky entry which sees Stacy Keach being plagued by the fear of losing his hair. After trying everything to combat it, he seeks treatment from a specialist doctor. It works --- lovely long hair, but at what cost. Keach is a blast in the lead and he shares terrific on-screen chemistry with the likes of Sheena Easton, David Warner and a colourful Debbie Harry. Witty dialogues and a nice sense of wicked cruelty in a revelation that's just plain crazy.
Finally we end off with Hooper's "The Eye". A brooding supernatural tale that has Mark Hamill an up-and coming baseball player in a terrible car accident, where he loses his right eye. However a doctor offers him the chance to get that sight back in an eye transplant but there's no guarantee it will work. However it does, but soon he's plagued by headaches and visions --- dark and disturbing ones. This one takes on a more serious approach compared with the previous outings with an excellently confident Mark Hamill with good support by Twiggy. The story might be predictable, but it's well-paced where the inflicted transformation of our edgy central character is suitably pitched. Some ghastly shocks moments show up too.
Joining it up is the enjoyably warped wrap-around segment with Carpenter (where Rick Baker did the make-up for) and this sees the cameo turns of Hooper and Arnold at the end. The dialogues might be what you most remember, but some of the decors on show in this segment are amusingly executed.
As a whole it's a complete package with the stories perfectly complementing each other. They might not be spectacular, but I liked the three.
Good, fun comic horror anthology opus by Carpenter and co.