It has been well established by now that the folks at Scream Factory are big boosters of John Carpenter: they’ve done dynamite reissues of They Live, The Fog and Prince Of Darkness, not to mention the Carpenter-produced Halloween II and III. They’ve also shown a fondness for Tobe Hooper’s work via strong editions of The Funhouse and Lifeforce. Thus, it seemed destined that they would have to take a crack at the lone Carpenter/Hooper teamup, Body Bags and they’ve made good on that destiny, delivering a quality blu-ray/DVD combo with some fresh extras on the side.
Things get off to a nice start with a fresh anamorphic transfer of the film. The details are sharp and the colors look rich, particularly the black levels in the “Gas Station” story. 2.0 and 5.1 lossless stereo tracks are provided: the 5.1 was listened to for this review and it’s a subtle remix that concentrates on spreading out the music a little more oomph and slightly more depth to the overall soundscape.
There are also a few fresh supplements for fans. There is a commentary track that has an anthology-style feel: the first story features Carpenter and Robert Carradine, the second story features Carpenter with Stacy Keach and the last segment offers producer Sandy King with moderator Justin Beahm, plus Carpenter commenting solo on the wraparound footage.
The first two segments are laid back, working more as gab sessions between Carpenter and his stars: they offer a few memories of the production but Carpenter allows the talk to drift in different directions, even asking Carradine what it was like to work with John Wayne on The Cowboys! The third segment is the most interesting, with Beahm asking some complex questions about both Carpenter and Hooper and King answering them in a forthcoming way. The results might be a little too casual for some listeners, particularly during its first two-thirds, but hardcore fans will still want to give it a listen.
There is also a new featurette entitled “Unzipping Body Bags” and it’s quite good. Beahm helmed this piece, which interviews Carpenter, King, Carradine and Keach. In twenty minutes, it tells the full story of how the film came together, how and why the different guest stars were chosen and why the film never led to a t.v. series. Carpenter is as amusingly irreverent as ever — he even starts the piece by admitting he mostly dislikes horror anthologies — and be sure to stick around for the end credits to see him pull a little gag on his interviewers. A short, witty trailer rounds the bonus features out.
All in all, Scream Factory has assembled a quality reissue for a title that no one probably expected to get the special edition treatments. Carpenter fans will want to add it to the growing pile of Scream Factory blu-rays for this director.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Body Bags, click here.