Get ready for a workout that leads to death in this B-movie horror film.
At the Hardbody Health Spa, Laura Danvers has finished her workout and is alone to lock up the place. When she ends up in the sauna, an accident where the location involves chlorine vapor causes Laura to suffer some burns and ends up blind. Laura’s boyfriend, spa owner Michael Evans, has learned the news and rushes to her side. He tries to see if the spa’s new technology could have glitched, but computer programmer David insists that it is not the case.
However, a series of accidents begin to occur at the spa. A bodybuilder is torn apart. Another woman is killed in a freak accident. Michael begins to envision the death of his wife Catherine from a year ago. Catherine killed herself and her spirit may be responsible for the accidents. As if that’s not bad enough. Michael is learning some investors are plotting a takeover from him of the spa as a result of the accidents. Who is responsible and can Michael put an end to the chaos?
This 1980s gem, directed by Michael Fischa, comes in the awakening of combining horror and aerobics and fitness. Just a year before this, we were treated to the film Aerobicide or Killer Workout which had a similar premise. This film though adds a supernatural edge to things rather than deal with a serial killer although it does bring some nuances to mind that it could be a serial killer.
William Bumiller is great as the spa owner Michael. He genuinely shows concern when it comes to his girlfriend Laura, played by Brenda Bakke, who is seen in the opening in an accident. He also shows enthusiasm when it comes to seeing his clients and co-workers. The latter includes horror icon Ken Foree and Chelsea Field, who would play Teela in the live-action Masters of the Universe film the same year. The film also features in his final role, Merrick Butrick, in the role of David, Michael’s brother-in-law who is the spa’s computer programmer.
Shari Shattuck delivers the goods as Catherine, Michael’s dead widow and I don’t mean the eye candy either. The film also features appearances from Vanessa Bell-Calloway, who would play Imani Izzi a year later in the hit Coming to America and a debut performance by Karyn Parsons. Parsons would play Hillary Banks on the hit series Fresh Prince of Bel Air. There is also an extended cameo from Chad Hayes, who would go on to create The Conjuring universe with twin brother Carey.
The death scenes are quite nicely done. From a bodybuilder getting his limbs nearly ripped apart to a javelin impalement, the practical effects work well. The final act, set during a Mardi Gras party at the spa, really takes the cake, even invoking a Carrie vibe if you will.
Death Spa is an underrated 80’s horror film that would be a good double bill with Aerobicide with the horror/aerobic meshings. A great cast and some nice death scenes makes this one to check out.
WFG RATING: B+
A Maljack Productions film. Director: Michael Fischa. Producer: Jamie Beardsley-Jones. Writers: James Bartruff and Mitch Paradise. Cinematography: Arledge Armenaki. Editing: Michael Kewley.
Cast: William Bumiller, Brenda Bakke, Merrick Butrick, Robert Lipton, Alexa Hamilton, Ken Foree, Rosalind Cash, Frank McCarthy, Shari Shattuck, Hank Cheyne, Chelsea Field, Chad Hayes, Tane McClure, Vanessa Bell-Calloway, Karyn Parsons.