Body Bags (1993)

The first segment of this made-for-cable horror anthology from John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper, “The Gas Station”, stands out not only as the best of the three tales but also the one relevant to this website (fancy that). This 20-minute chiller is one of the very few non-“urban” slashers — regardless of length — to feature a black woman as the lead, the so-called “final girl” (one of the only ones coming to mind being Devon’s Ghost). Maybe this is because black women are perceived as talking too much shit to survive? (“And another thing, Jason, your mama swallows more seamen than the Bermuda Triangle!”)

Whatever the reason, “The Gas Station” stars Alex Datcher as Anne, a college gal looking to make a little extra money in the pre-Girls Gone Wild days. She ends up taking a job on the graveyard shift at a — yup, gas station — and has a first night that has “workman’s comp” written all over it. See, there’s a crazed killer running around town. (In an homage to himself, director Carpenter set this story in Haddonfield; since it’s not Halloween, it’s safe to assume that the killer is not Michael Myers — although to Anne’s dismay, he apparently needs gas.) What follows is genuinely creepy, giving a realistic sense of the paranoia you’d feel if you were stuck in a gas station attendant’s booth late at night in the middle of nowhere…in Haddonfield. Refreshingly, race is never an issue in the story — at least, until Anne calls her cousins Peanut and Ray-Ray to come mess up the mofo with a machete.

“Well, nothing left to do but die.”
“This looks like a job for my pants.”
“That sounds like either the killer who I thought was dead but is now getting up and coming after me with a sledgehammer…or a whippoorwill. Maybe a pheasant.”
Angela had the best body in town.


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