Let’s Commit Aerobicide (part 2)

Posted on Jul 25, 2012 in All Reviews, Surprisingly Good | 2 comments

KILLER WORKOUT vs. DEATH SPA (part 2)

Yesterday, I posted the first half of Let's Commit Aerobicide: Killer Workout vs. Death Spa.

As you may remember, I’m reviewing and comparing both films here to help celebrate our friends at Nature’s Market and their I’m Losing It 2012 program. While we enjoy moderate drinking, we at the Tavern are also fitness enthusiasts! We’re so pumped that we’re giving away free movie tickets to Nature’s Market’s Losing It program as one of the prizes in their weekly raffle. If you live in the central Florida area, we encourage you to check it out, drop of few pounds, and maybe get to see The Dark Knight Rises on our dime.

Now let’s get to the splatter-vision showdown. Two workout-themed retro horror movies. Which will prove the victor?

DEATH SPA (1990)

Ah, 1990. The final chapter for the 80’s horror boom. A bittersweet  farewell to gratuitous nudity and gore…. More bitter than sweet, seeing as we had to say goodbye to that golden age! Death Spa slid into the new decade with a focus on the previous one, and it is all the more enjoyable for it.

Brought to us by director Michael Fischa, who had already given us a taste of his style with My Mom’s a Werewolf the previous year,  Death Spa is not a slasher like Killer Workout, but rather a supernatural tale of a gym gone berserk. Think Poltergeist meets Pumping Iron. If that doesn’t get your vascular system juicing then you better check your pulse.

The movie starts off strong with violence, nudity and near female masturbation in the first ten minutes. The score is poppy, 90’s fun and we get more aerobics for strippers just like in our last feature. We even get a strange insult to laugh at when one of the gym members says “I’m BETA, you’re VHS.” What the fuck does that even mean?

Michael is your average health spa owner. He wants to make his gym a success and keep his members happy. But it’s become difficult for him to do so as the gym itself has started attacking his customers. While the cast of characters here are not as outlandish and absurdly acted as Killer Workout’s variable cornucopia of crap, we do at least get horror icon Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead, Texas Chainsaw 3) and the delectable Chelsea Field (Teela from Masters of the Universe) as aerobics enthusiast Darla.

Ken ForeeA lot of strange accidents occur, including one where a woman gets a spike through her neck but still manages to scream, and we also get treated to strange flashes of a satanic wheelchair. Still, Mike doesn’t want to close the gym or turn off its high-tech machines before the big Mardi Gras party, because apparently everyone wants to work out for Mardi Gras. Desperate to rid his spa of the murderous boogies, Mike visits a balding, ghost-hunting medium that uses what looks like a Lite-Brite vibrator to see into the past. From this we learn of David and his late wife Catherine’s dark history.

Michael needs to figure out if his dead wife is communicating with him from beyond the grave via his gym’s super computer, or if possibly his gym is being sabotaged by his brother-in-law David who doesn’t like Mike all that much. In fact, as more and more possible suspects arise, we can see that Mike has a lot of enemies. Ha! What an asshole!

Just as you begin to feel that Death Spa is losing steam, pun intended, it explodes with a bat-shit finale that really saves it. Melting flesh, a masked killer, and a riot in a packed gym that is lined with breakaway glass! There are more red bulbs and fog machines used here than ten Halloween parties and the result is cheesy, b-movie cake. And as someone who has worked in nutrition, I enjoy seeing a man attacked by piles of B vitamins.

The finale also throws a sort of Sleepaway Camp kind of twist at us, but it leaves a hell of a lot of loose ends — good narrative is not the film’s strong point. But the climax is exceptionally entertaining and it also made rethink my own workouts. After all, this spa has costume parties with booze. I need to switch gyms!

FINAL THOUGHTS

It's nearly impossible for me not to enjoy a movie with this many perms and fly-girl outfits, harder still when it explodes with pre-CGI gore. One exploding body scene is so over-the-top glorious that I rewound in several times. Death Spa is not particularly scary, nor is it as charming as, say, Frankenhooker, but it is well worth a viewing by anyone who cherishes old school American horror flicks.

  • RATING: 3 out of 5, mostly for the wild third act.
  • CHICK OF THE LITTER: Lots of lusciousness here, including a full frontal group shower scene, but I have to go with the darkly comic Darla, played by Chelsea Fields. She doesn’t take it all off for us, but she’s even hotter here than in the forgotten Bruce Willis gem The Last Boy Scout.

BARTENDER'S NOTES

Crystal Skull VodkaLet’s get physical! Why not grab an energy drink and mix it with some vodka for your visit to the Death Spa. It will keep you slim and knock you on your firm little ass too! I’m going to suggest The Crystal Skull Vodka for this hellish cocktail. This vodka is on the pricey side and I’m frankly not too fond of its flavor, but it has won a few prestigious awards so what the hell do I know? It is also brought to us by Ghostbuster Dan Akroyd and packaged beautifully in a skull-shaped bottle, which makes it a must-have for the tavern.  Try it with a some pomegranate juice to make it taste a little better and look like blood.

SHOWDOWN RESULTS

As you can see from the ratings, Killer Workout out-benches Death Spa, but Killer Workout left a big shadow for Death Spa to walk in.

Killer Workout is much more entertaining, but Death Spa is not to be shunned as it offers far more blood and guts and general horror movie insanity.

Death Spa may well have been inspired by Prior’s work anyhow, as its killer dons the same mask as the sicko in Sledgehammer and the term “death spa” is used in Killer Workout.

But sporting an incredible soundtrack, a near porno-level of tits, and the most hilarious murder weapon I have ever seen, Killer Workout takes down Death Spa pretty easily.

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2 Comments

  1. Any friend of Death Spa is a friend of mine!

  2. Well said, Juan! Welcome to The Tavern!

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