Body Bags (1993) – Movie review

body bags 1993 - pic 1

Body Bags (1993)

Directed by John Carpenter & Tobe Hooper

Starring:
Stacy Keach
David Warner
Sheena Easton
Debbie Harry
Mark Hamill
Twiggy
Robert Carradine

BB is a great little horror anthology by John Carpenter where he plays the host, a corpse in the morgue that finds different bodies of interest, and introduces the stories through their misfortunes. It was made for Showtime as a TV series jump off thus it had budget restrictions that limited effects to blood and violence. It first aired in 1993. The series never got the green light but the film still lives on.

A woman, Anne, comes in for the midnight shift at a self serve gas station. All she has to do is take money, charge credit cards, turn on pumps and…survive the night. Her first customer creeps up to the window slow and zombie-like while her back is turned, then scares the crap out of her by banging on the glass. Well, that customer is none other than, Wes Craven, in a surprise cameo. The next customer (David Naughton, American Werewolf…) uses his body bags 1993 - postercredit card then leaves without it. When Anne runs out to catch him, she accidentally locks herself out. The solitude and isolation of the lonely station begins to unnerve her. We have a homeless man come by for a bathroom key, (George Buck Flower, a familiar player in Carpenter films) then another car with yet another Carpenter regular, Peter Jason. After he leaves the woman retrieves the Men’s Room key only to discover there’s someone in the garage bay. She enters the garage and finds the homeless man murdered. A maniacal killer attacks her and she fights back in classic Carpenter cat and mouse suspense style.

In the next story, Richard (Stacey Keach), is going bald and feels bad about it despite his girlfriend, Megan (Sheena Eastonshe was a famous 80s singer) saying it‘s alright. He’s doing the Trump sweep over and spray, and trying a hundred products that don’t work. He sees an add on TV and calls the company about hair implants that carry a strange caveat. David Warner is the company CEO and we have the lovely Debbie Harry playing a Nurse in this episode. His grows hair like you wouldn’t believe. But the hair doesn’t stop growing. Turns out it’s a living organism. There’s a really disgusting part where he finds some growing in his throat. This segment is an ugly lesson in vanity.

The last one has Mark Hamill, (yes the Star Wars Luke Skywalker guy) as a minor league baseball player, who gets an eye transplant and takes on the characteristics of the organ doner. Turns out the organ donor was a sadistic serial killer. He begins getting migraine headaches and having terrible visions. There are some shocking visions of the dead victims crawling out of the dirt in his yard. He starts treating his wife badly and acting violent. This epi has a great gruesome ending.

This is a great addition to the horror anthology legacy. The stories are simple but effective making it a good watch. The fact that it had a lower budget and two of the segments were based on urban legends makes it more gritty than Creepshow or the HBO Tales From the Crypt series. For that reason it feels more relevant to modern horror tastes. An added enjoyment was picking up on the cameos as they appeared in the film

body bags 1993 - pic 3 wes craven

Gritty, realistic style lets it stand up well to today’s horror flicks.
I give it 3.7 psycho slashers out of 5 on the blood soaked anthology of horror scale.

 

Fun Facts:

There’s also cameos in the film by Sam Raimi, Greg Nicotero, Roger Corman, Tom Arnold, Tobe Hooper, and John Agar.

In “The Gas Station” segment, look for the news report that tells of a dead body turning up in Haddonfield.

Clive Barker was asked to do a cameo but couldn’t make the shoot due to a conflicting schedule.

From Beyond the Grave (1974) – Amicus Films – Movie Review

From Beyond the Grave - Cushing

From Beyond the Grave (1974)
Amicus Films

Stars: Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence, Angela Pleasence, Ian Bannen, Diana Dors, David Warner, Ian Ogilvy, Margaret Leighton

Directed by Kevin Conner

This is without a doubt my favorite Amicus Films anthology film. Released in 1974, this is the first horror film I ever went to see in theaters without my parents. I wanted to go see The Exorcist, but they said no, they wouldn’t let me tfrom_beyond_the_grave_movie_poster001o see it. So they let me go see this instead (with a friend). It may have been rated- R, but (except for The Exorcist) they didn’t really check ID’s back then. If you showed up with money, you were in. The stories were adaptations from R. Chetwynd-Hayes.

The wrap-around concerns an antique shop, Temptations Limited, with a humble proprietor played by Peter Cushing. We watch as people enter the shop and each one selects an item, and then attempts to rip off the shop owner from his asking price. One changes tags with a cheaper item, another talks him down in price, saying the item is a worthless fake. Each item the customers take home has a wicked curse upon it. I often felt the series, Friday the 13th, which aired in the 1980’s, had more in common with this film than its namesake. Cursed antiquities in a shop is an excellent jumping-off point to tell many different stories.

The Gate Crasher – Edward, played by David Warner purchases an antique mirror for a pittance, claiming it was worthless. He mounts it in his apartment and everything is fine until one night when he and his friends decide to hold a séance. A spirit is trapped within the mirror and needs Edward to kill in order for him to regain his energies and escape the from beyond the grave pic 2reflective glass.

An Act of Kindness – Christopher Lowe is treated poorly by his wife and his young son has no respect for him. He stops and talks to a street vendor everyday and learns the man is a veteran. Christopher claims he is a veteran too, bragging to the man about a medal he had received. The next day he goes into the antiques shop and procures a medal, so he can show the veteran. The man invites Christopher to dinner and to meet his daughter, who is a witch. The witch kills the wife and to take her place as spouse and mother, but not for long. However, Christopher also meets his untimely demise. Stars Donald Pleasance and his daughter, Angela Pleasance, who looks exactly like her father. Despite the more intricate story, this is my least favorite of the segments found here.

The Elemental – Reggie purchases a small pill case from the shop but also inherits a small but nasty demonic entity. On the train ride home, a psychic spiritualist, Madame Orloff, tells him about the elemental and hands him a business card to call if there’s trouble. It isn’t long before he is forced to admit something is afoot and calls her in to cleanse the home. The cleansing is very comical with Madame Orloff exorcising the entity, squeezing Reggie’s face, screaming and yelling, as the home is wrecked in the process. Reggie’s wife cringes on the couch as paintings and knick-knacks fly, couch pillows arfrom beyond the grave pic 12e relieved of their feathers and winds blow through the home like a bad winter storm. The psychic claims the entity is gone, but is it?

The Door – Finally, my favorite story of the bunch concerns a wood carved door from ancient times. A young man, William, purchases the door and installs it for a closet, more as ornamentation for the room than necessity. His wife Rose finds it rather displeasing. Working late one night in the den, William sees the door open. What lies behind it is a secret blue room from the 16th Century. He enters the room and reads a journal upon a desk. He discovers the door was owned by occultist, Sir Michael Sinclair, who created the door so he would be able to walk amongst future times and live forever by capturing the souls of others. There are some creepy and suspenseful scenes in this segment as William hears footsteps approaching and each time he enters the room, the footsteps get closer to the blue room. Eventually Sir Michael kidnaps Rose and the couple has to battle him for their very souls.

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This is one of the few Amicus Films that still bears some relatively creepy scenes that haven’t completely lost their impact over time with me, most notably in The Gate Keeper and The Door segments. After seeing this as a youngster, I remember having to make sure the closet door in my room was securely closed and feeling the urge to cover my mirror with a pillowcase. It doesn’t have the same effect now, but it still remains my favorite Amicus anthology.

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This review is part of a series I am doing to review all the Amicus Anthologies and horror films.

You can check out all the reviews from links at this page:
Amicus Films – overview