The Austin Chronicle

8 Heads in a Duffel Bag

Rated R, 93 min. Directed by Tom Schulman. Starring Joe Pesci, Andy Comeau, Kristy Swanson, Todd Louiso, George Hamilton, Dyan Cannon, David Spade, Anthony Magano, Joe Basile.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 18, 1997

Screenwriter Tom Schulman (Dead Poets Society, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) takes the directorial reins this time out, working from a script of his own. Unfortunately, after you get past that wonderfully morbid title, Schulman's film is stock necrophiliac yuks, with nary an original thought in any of the eight heads involved. It's difficult to imagine dozing off at a film with such a great title going for it, but 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag is prime fodder for the snooze factory, neither as broadly hilarious as you might be led to believe, nor as godawfully gruesome as, well, as you might be led to believe. Honestly? It packs all the spine-tingling punch of a soggy bag of mulch. Pesci plays Tommy Spinelli, a (what else?) bumbling mobster assigned by his cronies to deliver the freshly decapitated noggins of a rival gang to the capo. While at the airport, Tommy mistakenly grabs the wrong duffel bag, and instead winds up with the bag belonging to med student Charlie (Comeau), who's off to Mexico to meet his girlfriend's parents (Hamilton and Cannon). Realizing he's dead without the heads, Tommy embarks on a Wild & Zany� search for Charlie while studiously avoiding his suspicious mafia pals. This may have been a swell premise for a two-part Married With Children episode, or even the as-yet-unknown Weekend at Bernie's III (Bernie's head is cryogenically frozen, but Andrew McCarthy must steal it in order to make it up the corporate ladder… see? It all fits!), but as a feature-length film, it's deadly boring. Even the occasionally reliable Spade, as Charlie's college roommate, is little more than annoying. Crammed with bad reaction shots of various flustered people discovering the gory goods, 8 Heads is a veritable tête-à-tête between sleep and ennui. Granted, Greg Cannom's special makeup effects' work on the guillotined mafiosi skulls is impressively done, but that's hardly enough to merit viewing this ghoulishly unfunny time-waster. And these days, Sominex is so much cheaper, anyway.

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