Saturday, November 2, 2013

BODY BAGS (Scream Factory Blu-ray):

Love it or hate it. There's usually no middle ground. Hell, even I flip flop  from time to time. Do I love John Carpenter's Body Bags or do I think it could have been a whole lot better? Perhaps not better. Perhaps... could it have been MORE? We all know that Carpenter himself became disillusioned with Hollywood around this time (or maybe it was all along and now it started to show), but Body Bags is where the machine started to screw our champion horror director.This is where the deep pockets had a different vision of a TV show than the great J.C. This series may have been great had production costs not gotten in the way; I think Tales of the Crypt only with a Carpenter in the driver's seat. Say what you want about the stories themselves. I laugh at the them as much as a wretch at them, but I do not hate them. I enjoy them. As you know I'm a bit of an anthology nut, so I'll go easy on damn near the worst of them (save Romero's Deadtime Stories). Scream Factory has given new life to this previously unreleased on digital format item. Blu-ray combo pack for the VHS/cable classic.

There are three stories all wrapped in a John Carpenter (as a horror host) introduction in a morgue cutting apart bodies. The first involves a gas station in the middle of nowhere and the strange creepers that might ride up to make the graveyard shift actual Hell. The second involves vanity and hair. It follows a man who will do anything to preserve his hair and eventually relies on a special procedure that just might do the trick if it doesn't kill him. The third story involves a baseball player who had an eye for the ball but needed a new one, got it and now the things he sees may not be his own, but the visions through the eye of a dead man.

The three story portmanteau should be considered the pilot for a horror TV show that never was. It featured numerous cameos by everyone from Sam Raimi to Wes Craven, David Naughton to Tobe Hooper... well, let me just post the damn cast from Wiki so you can see what the Hell you're in for because everyone's in this thing.

"The Morgue"
John Carpenter as The Coroner
Tom Arnold as Morgue Worker #1
Tobe Hooper as Morgue Worker #2"The Gas Station"
Robert Carradine as Bill
Alex Datcher as Anne
Wes Craven as Pasty Faced Man
Sam Raimi as Dead Bill
David Naughton as Pete
Lucy Boryer as Peggy
George Buck Flower as Stranger
Molly Cheek as Divorcee "Hair"
Stacy Keach as Richard Coberts
David Warner as Dr. Lock
Sheena Easton as Megan
Dan Blom as Dennis
Attila as Man with Beautiful Hair
Kim Alexis as Woman with Beautiful Hair
Deborah Harry as The Nurse"Eye"
Mark Hamill as Brent Matthews
Twiggy as Cathy Matthews
John Agar as Dr. Lang
Roger Corman as Dr. Bregman
Charles Napier as Baseball Team Manager
Eddie Velez as Baseball Player

That's everyone right? Pretty much everyone you'd want to see. The performances are pure camp, and the movie is better for it. After the opening intro by Carpenter if you're expecting a serious horror film than you may be disappointed. Body Bags is full of laughs in each story, none of them perfect but with some creep outs that can emerge if your disbelief has been properly stowed. The blood spills and the guts spray and aside from the The Thing it almost feels out of character for a Carpenter film, but it's colorful and gratuitous. That works too.

The disc comes with perfect new artwork. It may not beat out the original VHS cover art provided on the reverse side, but that would only because that's familiar to me personally. I grew up renting this thing to people at Blockbuster, watching it once and not really thinking much of it at the time, but that cover stood out. I would recommend it solely based on that. The new art is actually scarier than the movie itself. The Carpenter commentary track is accompanied by Producer, Sandy King, and actors Stacy Keach and Robert Carradine. It's actually quite a lot of fun (as nearly all Carpenter commentary tracks are per my buddy Jeff Konopka of Genre-Watch). There's a 5.1 DTS-HD Master as well as a 2.0 option. Since I've only ever seen this thing on VHS I'm floored by the new release and happy to say that it looks damn good. Love and care went into this somewhat looked over Carpenter film. You also get the trailer. 


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