Lisa Schwarzbaum
August 06, 1993 AT 04:00 AM EDT

John Carpenter Presents Body Bags

TV Show
Current Status
In Season

We gave it an A

From his first creepy words of welcome (”I hate natural causes. Give me a big old stab wound to poke around in, then I’m happy”) you know you’re in the hands of a master with John Carpenter Presents Body Bags. The inventive director of Halloween steps out in his best deranged-psychopath-as-coroner suit to introduce a trio of witty, gory horror tales, beginning with ”The Gas Station,” a classic in the pretty-vulnerable-girl-menaced-by-knife-wielding-maniac tradition. Carpenter directs ”Station,” which means there are scenes with cars rising eerily on hydraulic lifts, cleavers, even the sacred line ”Die, sonavabitch!” (and cameos by his ghoulish directing pals Wes Craven of Nightmare Cafe and Sam Raimi of The Evil Dead). He also takes charge of ”Hair,” in which Stacy Keach (Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer) plays a vain, middle-aged man who undergoes a miracle hair-growth treatment with hellish results. Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) directs ”Eye,” and the mood shifts — becoming darker, nastier, with one scene of seriously and disturbingly violent sex — as Mark Hamill (Star Wars) copes with evil visions as the result of getting an eye transplanted from an executed serial killer.

Gruesome stuff — and yet Body Bags moves along with such jaunty, good bad taste that it’s hard not to smile. Carpenter (who is known for his sly film-buff in-jokes) has nailed down a great cast — which also includes David Warner (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Sheena Easton (Miami Vice), Twiggy — doing great work (Keach, by the way, is brilliant). In fact, Carpenter has nailed the form, he has cut to the bone, he’s — ah, hell, he’s bloody good. A

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