Fill up with fear
THE GAS STATION
A.k.a. Body Bags (segment 1)
Director: John Carpenter / Writers: Billy Brown & Dan Angel / Cast: Alex Datcher, Robert Carradine, David Naughton, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi.
Body Count: 3
Probably about as close as we’ll ever get to seeing John Carpenter direct another slasher film, The Gas Station was the first of three segments to his 1993 anthology Body Bags (the other two concerned Stacy Keach having a bad hair life, and something about Mark Hamill’s eye).
Alex Datcher is perfect as Anne, a college girl starting her first nightshift as the cashier at a Haddonfield (!) gas station, not far from the stomping ground of an at-large serial killer.
Wes Craven is her first customer, a creepy old dude looking for chips, followed soon by a flirtatious handsome guy, then a homeless fellow after the restroom key, a playful couple, and finally silence… but then she spots the car on the mount in the garage going up and down by itself.
At 23 minutes, this is a slasher flick on speed, meta’d right down to a quarter of the usual length, and Anne is soon running and screaming: Windows are bashed in, bodies fall out of lockers… Pretty much everything that happened to Jamie Lee Curtis in the last act of Halloween happens here.
The casting of a black actress as the final girl is refreshing against Carpenter’s retread, featuring some of the same shot composition, and although we don’t get much time with her, we’re quick to support Anne through her ordeal.
It couldn’t be a feature length outing, but it’s nice that Carpenter stopped by to fill up on some stalking goodness.