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Film / 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag

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"Get ready for cut-throat comedy!"

A 1997 Black Comedy film directed by Tom Schuman and starring Joe Pesci.

Mob Courier Tommy Spinelli (Pesci) has been ordered by his superior to bring back eight decapitated victims' heads. At the airport he crosses paths with a young med-school graduate who's about to join his girlfriend and her parents at a hotel in Mexico. When Spinelli reaches his destination, he finds that he and the med student have inadvertently swapped luggage. Hilarity Ensues.

Also features Kristy Swanson, David Spade, Dyan Cannon, and George Hamilton.

Contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
  • Berserk Button: "Would you like an enchilada?"
  • Bilingual Bonus: Some of the dialogue spoken by the Mexican characters is untranslated from the original Spanish (which doesn't hurt the film too much, because their comments tend to be popular Spanish phrases that most English speakers know or at least have heard of).
  • Black Comedy
  • Body in a Breadbox: Right there in the title.
  • Bumbling Dad: Dick Bennett (George Hamilton's character)
  • Butt-Monkey: Dick Bennett, again. All he wanted was to do some fishing in Mexico, and he ends up getting wrongfully arrested for murder, tortured during interrogation, and is implied to get raped while temporarily in jail.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Spinelli is pretty good at this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Whenever David Spade shows up in a film, you can count on it.
  • Decapitation Presentation: As you'd expect from the title.
  • Deer in the Headlights: Laurie.
  • Demanding Their Head: Tommy Spinelli works for The Mafia and has been ordered by his superior to bring back the heads of eight decapitated victims as proof of their deaths.
  • Description Cut: Charlie tells Laurie that Ernie and Steve have dull lives. Cut to them being tortured by Tommy.
  • Dismembering the Body: Eight bodies were decapitated so the heads (and only the heads) could be transported in a duffel bag.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Don't sass-talk Spinelli, or he just might throw you out of a speeding minivan.
  • Faux Action Girl: Laurie is talked up by her fiancé as a race-car driver, but this is never mentioned again. She also does only token badass things such as slapping people and clonking another woman over the head with a vase.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Tommy. Naturally.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Any scene in which Joe Pesci confronts David Spade, or in which Joe Pesci confronts Ernestine Mercer (the actress playing the grandmother).
  • Hurricane of Puns: "Heads up! Stop ahead. Anybody need to use the head?", etc.
  • Hypocritical Humor: "Didn't I tell you to watch your fucking language?"
  • I Lied: When Laurie finds one of the heads, she screams loud enough for the entire hotel staff to hear. Charlie quickly grabs Laurie and muffles her mouth with his hand just as one of the employees opens the door. Charlie reassures him that everything is fine, prompting the employee to leave. Then Charlie tells Laurie that he will let her go if she promises not to scream again. Laurie gives her word - and then, once she is free, immediately resumes screaming!
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Annette raids her mini bar after finding the heads.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Annette takes Dick to Charlie's room to show him the heads, but the maids already removed them.
  • Jerkass: Tommy Spinelli of course, but quite a few other characters as well.
    Charlie: I don't think [Laurie's] father likes me.
    Tommy: I can understand that. I just met you, and I don't like you either.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: Charlie tries this on Laurie after frightening her invokedout of the closet (where she is hiding from one of the severed heads) by saying, "The bodies are in there!" Laurie isn't biting.
  • Lady Drunk: Annette.
  • Mama Bear: When Annette finds the heads and assumes that Charlie is the killer, she instantly gets between Charlie and her daughter.
  • Maximum Fun Chamber: Dick's treatment in the Mexican prison.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Quite a few characters, but most notably Pesci's and Spade's.
  • No Mere Windmill: Annette is the first person in the family to discover one of the severed heads. But because she has a drinking problem (and, in fact, happened upon the head precisely because she was trying to sneak some booze), the rest of the family just assume that she's experiencing a psychotic reaction as a result of her alcoholism.
  • Only Sane Man: Charlie, most of the time.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Laurie is supposedly a race-car driver, but we never see her race.
  • Product Delivery Ordeal: Mob Courier Tommy Spinelli receives orders from his superior to transport the heads of eight decapitated victims across the United States as proof of their deaths. While taking a commercial flight, he crosses paths with Charlie, young med school graduate on his way to Mexico, and the two of them end up inadvertently switching their luggage because they had identical black duffel bags. Hilarity ensues as Spinelli tries to track down Charlie and retrieve the heads (and procure replacements from the cryonics lab at Charlie's med school, as some of the original heads get lost along the way) in order to complete the delivery.
  • Sanity Slippage: The trauma of being held prisoner by a gangster and being forced to help decapitate cryogenics patients takes quite the toll on poor Steve, and he ends the movie in a mental institution.
  • Satchel Switcheroo: The basis of the plot.
  • Screaming Woman: Both generations of Bennett females.
    Annette: I can't stand it! I'm losing my mind! Everywhere I look, there are heads! AAAAAH!
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Dick's mother. She's so unbearable that Tommy ends up throwing her out of a moving car and down a cliff. Annette is very happy.
    Annette: I thought the old battle-axe would never die!
  • Too Dumb to Live: Grandma. She keeps insulting and ranting at Spinelli right up until the moment he shoves her over a cliff.
    Grandma: Get your hands off me, you goon! Don't fuck with meeeeeeee!
  • Where Do You Think You Are?: On more than one occasion, Charlie has to remind Laurie that many things they take for granted in the U.S. are not the same in Mexico. For example, he explains that in Mexico the police are massively corrupt (which, unfortunately, is Truth in Television).