After four years away from a theatrical released film ("They Live"), with the exception of the lacklustre: "Memoirs of an Invisibile Man", John Carpenter moved to television to direct and produce, alongside his companion Sandy King, "Body Bags", a horror comedy anthology film which was a proposed pilot for a future Showtime's television series similar to the HBO's "Tales from the Crypt".
John Carpenter, who cast himself in the prologue and the epilogue, delivers an excellent morbid, but tongue-in-cheek performance as a creepy-looking coroner, talking directly to the audience (à la Ferris Bueller) and introducing three different horror stories involving cadavers, who died in an unnatural ways, placed in body bags.
The first segment, "The Gas Station" is a classic vintage Carpenter, a slasher short film full of references to his own works (a serial killer from Haddonfield) with peculiar camera angles to enhance suspense and providing an eerie & claustrophobic feeling to the whole, despite being a laid-back homage to his earlier masterpiece "Halloween" and his criminally underrated 'made-for-television' film, "Someone's Watching Me!". Carpenter's 'usual suspects' were present for the ride: Peter Jason; George 'Buck' Flower, playing his usual wino / bum character; Robert Carradine in a nerd / deranged mode that he can act in his sleep, plus unexpected cameos from two other "Masters of Horror": Sam Raimi & Wes Craven and David Naughton, the star of the lycanthropy cult-classic: "An American Werewolf in London".
The second segment, "Hair" is a dark humored social commentary in the vein of "They Live", with Carpenter this time picking on vanity as one of the greatest weaknesses in the human being. It's the larger segment in length, well acted by Stacy Keach and featuring cameos of singers Sheena Easton (even she can't act) and Debbie Harry and a scene-stealer performance of David Warner as the flamboyant Dr. Lock.
The third segment, "The Eye", the only directed by Tobe Hooper, it's the more serious in tone of the Anthology, but also its weakest entry. Mark Hamill stars as a promising baseball player that loses an eye after a car accident and got an ocular transplantation from a former serial killer who died in the electric chair. After leave the hospital, "Luke Skywalker" starts to have morbid visions of someone committing heinous crimes... The story borrows too much from Oliver Stone's "The Hand" and even from Eric Red's "Body Parts" which was released only 2 years before and besides being too predictable, introduces nothing new to the genre. "B-Movie" legends John Agar & Roger Corman play the doctors and the once upon a time a supermodel, Twiggy provides eye-candy for the viewer as Hamill's devoted wife.
"Body Bags" may had failed becoming a television series, but as 'stand- alone, made for TV anthology movie', it works for fans of John Carpenter and witty self-aware horror / comedy flicks, even if it relied too much on humour and farce and kind of lost its edge on the creativity and thrills' aspects.
The sets may be cheap looking, but the gore is present (check out for the UNCUT DVD) and even if it wasn't a work on the caliber of Amicus' Anthology films; the "Creepshow" movies; "Cat's Eye" or "Tales from the Darkside - The Movie" (which also featured "Blondie" lead singer, Debbie Harry) it surely worth a watch.