8 Heads in a Duffel Bag
|Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tom Schulman|
|Produced by||Jeffrey D. Ivers
|Written by||Tom Schulman|
|Music by||Andrew Gross|
|Edited by||David Holden|
|Distributed by||Orion Pictures Corporation|
Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag is a 1997 black comedy film starring Joe Pesci, Kristy Swanson and David Spade. It was the directorial debut of screenwriter Tom Schulman. In 1998 the film won the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film's Silver Raven award.
Tommy Spinelli (Joe Pesci) is a wiseguy hired by a pair of dimwitted hit men to transport a duffel bag full of severed heads across the United States to a crime boss (as proof of the deaths). While on a commercial flight, his bag is accidentally switched with that of Charlie Pritchett (Andy Comeau), a friendly, talkative, young American tourist who is going to Mexico to see his girlfriend Laurie (Kristy Swanson) and her parents (George Hamilton and Dyan Cannon).
The film revolves around Spinelli harassing Charlie's friends Ernie (David Spade) and Steve (Todd Louiso) for information, while Charlie and Laurie attempt to get rid of their rather unfortunate luggage. Earlier, Laurie mistakes a severed head for a present for their wedding. They began to think is was a joke by Steve and Ernie, but are shocked that whoever has Charlie's bag will look for both of them. Annette, Laurie's mom, mistakenly thinks that Charlie might be a serial killer on the run, but her husband thinks it's all a delusion brought on by her alcoholism. Charlie comes up with an idea that he will give back the heads without anyone noticing, by pretending he forgot to fill out a report to his friends.
At the airport, Charlie accidentally puts a severed head in Dick's carry-on bag, causing him to get arrested. Tommy, Ernie, and Steve start to look for replacement heads, after Charlie tells Tommy he lost one. They start to look in a cryonics lab, where they store bodies and severed heads, much to Tommy's approval. After getting the replacement heads, Tommy and the others get on a plane and head to Mexico. Tommy threatens Charlie that if he loses more heads, he'll replace them with Charlie's friends and family. After hearing of the airport incident, Benny and Rico decide to collect the heads for themselves.
At first, Charlie and Laurie tried to bury the heads in the desert, but a group of thugs steals their car. When Fern, Dick's mother, arrives, Tommy takes her and the others hostage as he helps Charlie find more heads. They find out that a coyote took one of the heads from the stolen car. Tommy also realizes that Benny and Rico are going to kill him if he doesn't get the heads across the border in time. Charlie comes up with a plan to save both their lives. Before long, Charlie tells Tommy that the men he had killed might have better futures and dreams if they hadn't turned to crime. Tommy starts to agree with Charlie.
The film ends when Charlie and Laurie take a severed head to the airport to prove her father's innocence. Benny and Rico try to intervene, but end up getting arrested. It is revealed that Tommy and Charlie set them up. Charlie thanks him for his help, as Tommy departs to Hawaii. Steve goes insane and starts running around the airport, telling security guards that a severed head is his "best friend".
Charlie and Laurie get married, with her mother and father present, Steve is in a straitjacket, Ernie is a brain surgeon, Fern is also present after being thrown out of a moving van when she started to bad-mouth Tommy, and Tommy is enjoying his retirement.
- Joe Pesci as Tommy Spinelli
- Andy Comeau as Charlie Pritchett
- Kristy Swanson as Laurie Bennett
- George Hamilton as Dick Bennett
- Dyan Cannon as Annette Bennett
- David Spade as Ernie
- Todd Louiso as Steve
- Anthony Mangano as Rico
- Joe Basile as Benny
- Ernestine Mercer as Fern
The film on the whole was not critically well received. Although Roger Ebert praised Pesci's performance as being "the best thing in the movie; he's funny every moment he's on the screen", he remarked that the rest of the movie underperformed as a comedy. Entertainment Weekly 's Bruce Fretts was even harsher to the entire production, giving the movie a rating of 'F' and further stating that it "aims for dark farce but ends up playing more like Weekend at Bernie's VIII".
The film was a box-office flop, earning just under $4 million in its entire theatrical run.