Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Death Spa Blu-Ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
The new fitness club in town has everything a health nut could ever want: a variety of workout machines, classes taught by friendly (and frisky) instructors, and a state-of-the-art computer control system for maximum client comfort. Unfortunately, it's also possessed by the evil spirit of the owner's dead wife, and before long every dumbbell, leg press and rowing machine becomes a deadly weapon for her to enact bloody vengeance on the club's beautiful members. Everyone gets a real workout from hell in Death Spa, a new exercise in terror starring William Bumiller (24, Boat Trip), Brenda Bakke (American Gothic), Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead) and Rosalind Cash (Omega Man).

Film (2 out of 5 stars)
In this episode of the Allie-watches-all-the-old-80s-horror-films tour, we visit Death Spa. Of all the cheesy, so-bad-they-are-good 80s films I’ve seen lately, this is the worst. It’s not even good, it’s so bad. Michael, the owner of an exclusive health spa, lost his wife about a year ago. He’s moved on with a lovely girl named, Laura, who, like everyone else, works out at the spa. When Laura is trapped in the sauna and burned, the police begin an investigation. Michael, his partner and his lawyer cooperate with the police answering all their questions, but the two detectives are still suspicious. When another accident occurs while they are there, they begin tailing Michael to see what he’s up to.

When others go missing and Michael begins dreaming of his dead wife, he finally goes to a paranormal investigator who agrees to go to the club after hours and see if he can find out what’s going on. Late that night, the investigator wanders into the basement to see what might be down there, and in the boiler room, he finds the almost dead body of another missing club member. He runs out and after an altercation with the ghost, disappears.

After Michael discovers the truth, he tries his best to not let it affect the big party he’s hosting at the club. As the guests arrive in costume and begin having a good time, Michael realizes that the ghost may not be a ghost at all and when the party turns disastrous, Michael and Laura barely escape with their lives.

The randomness of this film was just that – totally and completely random. I’m not even sure I figured out if I was watching a ghost or a person committing all these crimes. The “spa” looked like it was a set on a small community theater stage. Everyone was jammed into one tiny workout area; there was a random dance studio and a ridiculous amount of spandex. The deaths were so overdone and people were still alive after what should have been an instant death. It just wasn’t a good script, which turned into a not so good movie.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The 1080p anamorphic widescreen presentation of Death Spa was actually not terrible. The transfer was pretty good, there were only a few instances of static and white spots on the screen. Colors were really bright, and the blood was way too red to be believable. That said, this transfer was quite the step up from the original video, which I saw when watching the special features and seeing the trailer. As terrible as this movie was, it wasn’t bad to watch on Blu-ray.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
Death Spa ‘s Dolby Digital DTS-HD master audio is pretty good. Like the rest of the movie, the sound is over exaggerated, but the volume wasn’t too loud. It was in the appropriate places, but not overwhelming. I could hear everything being said, background noises were clear (even when they were gross noises). If needed, English subtitles are available.
Extras (1 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The special features included on the blu-ray were not very interesting. I am continually disappointed by these older movies not having a more robust special features section. This section could be so much more after all the years since the film was released.
  • Commentary with director Michael Fischa, producer Jamie Beardsley and editor Michael Kewley – The complete film with the thoughts and comments by the director and producer.
  • An Exercise in Terror: The Making of Death SpaA behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film with comments from the cast and crew. It was interesting to hear how the film started with one script and ended up with another. I actually enjoyed this feature more than I thought I would.
  • Theatrical Trailer – The original theatrical trailer for Death Spa. This was funny seeing the scenes chosen for the trailer and seeing it in its original format.
  • Video Trailer – The trailer for the video release of the film. It was pretty much the same as the theatrical trailer.
Summary (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Death Spa is not a good movie. The script was bad, the acting bad, the sets were awful. But it’s 80s, and the 80s are known for bad. Usually they are known for “so bad it’s good,” but this was not the case for Death Spa. I was surprised to hear the film was released in 1989, because by then, horror films were much better. It looks more like an early 80s flick with the bad special effects. I’ll add this to the shelf and probably not pull it out again.

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