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Monday, July 24, 2017

Death Spa (1989)



Diving deep in the pile of unwatched Slasher movies I pulled out another little know movie that I vaguely remember watching a few years ago. Not sure if I liked it or not and I didn’t want to cheat by reading my old review which I have somewhere in my digital archives. Nope I wanted to give a fresh take on Death Spa, aka. Witch Bitch.

Here is a unique idea. The movie is set at a trendy health spa run by a generic ‘80s leading man who has a generic ‘80s bleach blonde girlfriend. The clientele is mostly generic ‘80s ladies in spandex and Ken Foree from Dawn of the Dead. The movie starts off with a couple of accidents involving a steam room and a diving board, but eventually leads to murder. Though until the night of the big Mardi Gras party no one notices. Once they do it is too late as they are locked in the health spa with the killer. Who is the killer and why are they up to no good? That is an interesting question.

There is a lot of fun to be had with Death Spa and it is also very annoying. I’ll start with the good. From the clothes and hairstyles, as well as the killer ‘80s synth soundtrack this is a movie that is firmly rooted in the decade of Duran Duran and leg warmers. Though I have no idea what Ken Foree was thinking when they dressed him in some of his wardrobe for this one. This movie also has a bizarre make out scene that involves a vegetable and a blinded woman that rivals the awkwardness of the hot tub scene from Madman, which is another Slasher movie I need to cover eventually. Who knew eating healthy could be so hot?

Veggies are sexy!
Beware Spoilers to follow! The Killer in Death Spa is a memorable one. It isn’t some inbred hillbilly or angry nerd that had a prank pulled on him. It is actually the angry ghost/demon spirit of the owner’s wife. It possesses the body of her twin brother who operates the computers that control the spa and makes him do her bidding. That explains the original title of Witch Bitch. This isn’t too much of a spoiler though as the killer is revealed early on.

The gore is acceptable in Death Spa. We get a lot of kills and many of them happen on screen. The most memorable is a hand exploding, a blender going wild, a girl being melted by acid, and the best of all a zombie fish going for the throat. They aren’t explicit or terribly gross, but the imagination behind them makes up for it. I kept wondering what they were going to do next which helped keep me interested. That leads me to the big problem with the movie.

When there is no more room in hell... Rainbows!
There are long periods in Death Spa that are painfully slow. There is a subplot about the partners of our main character trying to sabotage the place so they can buy him out. We also get a couple of cop characters that I guess are supposed to act as some comic relief, but feel more like padding. The worst is all the scenes we get of people pumping iron and doing aerobics. There are times that it feels like I was watching a Jane Fonda workout tape! I suppose that is a reference that anyone under the age of thirty-five is going to miss, but trust me it is bad. And I keep harping on the fact that too many Slasher movies felt the need to pad the film with nudity that had no point to the story. The filmmakers actually went to a casting agency that hired out porn actors and brought a bunch of them in for a giant shower scene that had nothing to do with the haunting or main plot. That bugged me.

I wasn’t sure if I should include this movie in my Slasher movie marathon. It does have a body count and a killer, but there is a supernatural element that makes it feel more like Night of the Demons. But then I thought about zombie Jason in the later Friday the 13th flicks and of course old Freddy Krueger so what the hell. Now do I recommend the movie? I realize that the biggest appeal for me connected to my nostalgia to the ‘80s. If you aren’t old enough or just don’t get nostalgic there is nothing here for you to see and I’d say pass.

Next up in my Slasher movie marathon is The Initiation


© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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