Director: Michael Fischa
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Run Time: 87 minutes
Never heard of Death Spa before? That could be because it was also released under the name Witch Blade, or it could just be the fact that slasher gorefests like this 1987 lost camp classic were too common in the 80s to know them all. This only allows new fans to discover the grindhouse greatness of Death Spa for the first time, along with fans who will appreciate the unrated cut on the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Rarely do the drawn posters from 80s horror provide a film that lives up to the first-impression expectations brought on by the art; everything you see on the cover for Death Spa is exactly what you get, for better or worse.
Few horror movies are as dated as this one, but that just adds to the campy charm. The wardrobes and soundtrack alone provide plenty of unintentional laughs to keep the film entertaining between violent death scenes and female shower scenes. Something of a ghost story with a Psycho/Sleepover Massacre rip-off of a plot twist, it is actually shocking how gory the death scenes are. Creatively making use of the health spa’s juice bar and sushi cuisine, there are several creative deaths by the hand of unconventional weapons, not to mention the danger of the computer-run exercise equipment, as featured on the cover.
The gym is owned by Michael Evans (William Bumiller), who is haunted by the ghost of his jealous deceased wife through the gym’s state-of-the-art computer program. It probably doesn’t help that Michael uses the gym’s clientele and staff as his dating pool, and soon every nude woman appears to be a target. The plot doesn’t need to develop much more than this in order for Death Spa to work, and it doesn’t offer any more.
The interesting thing about the Starbody Health Spa is that it doesn’t seem to have a male locker room or shower, at least as far as the filmmakers were concerned. There are countless scenes which take place in the female locker room, shower, and steam room, however, and it seems that all of the gym’s members go au naturale. This definitely fed into the mentality of the genre by the late 1980s, all horror films existing for nude scenes and gory deaths. Death Spa has both of these in high doses.
The combo pack Blu-ray/DVD release includes a new 2K high definition transfer from the original uncut and uncensored camera negative. The special features include only a handful of extras, but they are the best that fans could ask for. There is a commentary track with director Michael Fischa, roducer Jamie Beardsley, and editor Michael Kewley, as well as a making-of featurette. Also included are a few obligatory vintage trailers nearly as amusing as the film itself.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4/10
Historical Significance: 2/10
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