Monday, September 25, 2017

Dyin' to the Oldies

A supernatural slasher is still a slasher, but when you make it in 1989 and set it in the most 1989 gym that has ever 1989'd, you've got something very, very special. 

Quick Plot: After practicing her dance routine in an empty workout studio, a young woman named Laura is nearly steam roomed to death (or nearly dissolved to death like an alka setlzer, in the words of the very professional LAPD). Odd accidents continue to follow for a full week, ranging from the mild (a hot shower that doesn't relent) to fatal (a muscle man being weight lifted to death by a malfunctioning machine). 

Something is clearly amiss at Starbody Health Spa, a trendy gym whose main selling point is how it integrates technology into the equipment. Lording over the control room is the creepy David, a tech wiz who just so happens to be twin brother of the late Catherine, wife of Starbody owner Michael.

So what became of Catherine, you ask? After pregnancy complications, Catherine lost her baby and became paralyzed from the waist down. With her husband surrounded by a gaggle of young aerobicizers, she went mad, wheeling herself outside and committing suicide via fire. Michael recovered from his loss, moving on to Laura...much to the chagrin of the increasingly hostile David.

Now several unexplained deaths into a regular week at Sarbody, is David using his programming skills to destroy Michael's spa? Is it Michael's lawyer and shady co-owner? Friendly manager Ken Foree? Friendly manager Ken Foree's amazing rainbow blazer?

More likely, it's the spirit of Catherine possessing David, urging him to slaughter gym members in increasingly creative ways. How creative, you ask? Aside from aforementioned benchpress-to-death and steam-room-to-death, there's the inevitable tanning bad meltdown, mirror explosion, power smoothie blender malfunction, and my personal favorite, food-obsessed-chubby-detective-being-locked-in-walk-in-refrigerator-fooded to death. 

Death Spa is basically Carrie if Carrie was a gym member and William Katt wore neon. It's everything you ask for from a horror movie made in the late '80s, but somehow with even more hairspray and joy. It is a beautiful thing.

High Points
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better source for fashion tips than EVERYTHING WORN BY EVERYONE IN THIS MOVIE

Low Points
My own personal gym phobia is the nightmare of being stuck on a treadmill that won't stop moving, so I was mildly disappointed not to see someone be jogged to death

Lessons Learned
Never lift without a spotter

Hacking means experimenting with computer programs

When leaving the house to confront your backstabbing partner and lawyer, make a statement by wearing your Macguyver jacket without a shirt

Death Spa is a terribly wonderful movie. It's more '80s than your acid washed brain can fathom, and more ridiculous than you can dream a little dream. Crack open a can of TAB, line up your cocaine, and queue it up on Amazon Prime for one fun night.

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