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May 20, 2012

Movie Review: Death Warmed Up (1984)

Directed by David Blyth

Starring Michael Hurst, Margaret Umbers and William Upjohn

As the film opens, an obviously mad-scientist, Dr. Howell (Gary Day) is having a hard time convincing his supervisor of the validity of his work. He is attempting to cheat death via secret serum injections and brain implants.

Fearing his supervisor will shut down his program, the mad doctor kidnaps the mans teenage son Michael (Michael Hurst) and brain-wash's him (via an injection to the ass cheek in an uncomfortably homo-erotic shower scene). Under the influence of the drug, the young boy kills both of his parents with a shotgun and ends up in a mental asylum.

Cut to seven years later, on a secluded island the mad doctor is still hard at work on his death-cheating experiments. Michael has been released from the asylum and is now in his way to the island, with his girlfriend and another young couple. Michael is there for revenge but not all of his friends are aware of the real purpose of the trip. Once on the island the four kids decide to explore a series of underground tunnels in an attempt to find a way into the doctors lab. There they are chased by motorcycle riding lab workers and eventually they are pursued by a pack of man-beasts which are apparently the byproduct of bad experimentation by the doctor. Eventually, Michael finds the doctor and stabs him with a scalpel. (Rule #47 of being a mad-scientist: never allow past victims to get their hands on a sharp object while in a confined space with them.) Death Warmed Up had, at times, a pleasantly cheesy feel to it, due in most part to some hilarious overacting.

But the fun basically stopped there. Its numerous drawbacks were glaringly obvious, which included weak character and story development (you dont really know or learn enough about these kids to give a rats-ass whether they live or die), poor lighting throughout most of the movie and a lack of creativity in the gore department, (they either blew their entire effects budget on the brain surgery scenes, or the version I watched was drastically cut ). The story was wide-open for potentially great scenes of confrontation and revenge but it failed to deliver in a satisfactory way, and when Michael finally kills the doctor it becomes one of the most anti-climactic finale's in cheesy-cinema history.

Finally, after escaping the lab with his girlfriend, Michael for some reason stops on the side of the road and ends up getting electrocuted by falling power-lines. I have no idea how or why that would be worked into the story-line but apparently it served some secret purpose that is beyond my comprehension. Think Scooby-Doo goes to The Island of Dr. Moreau, ( “I was on my way to ruling the world and I would have done it if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!”) and thats what Death Warmed Up is gonna look and feel like. Its not a great movie but it does have some endearing qualities: Kiwi accents, some all-too-brief nudity, bad acting and laughable man-beast “monsters”. One item worth noting is the fact that the star of the film, Michael Hurst, is a dead-ringer for a very young Rutger Hauer. I secretly found myself pretending to be watching an old Rutger Hauer movie and that in itself made the film twice as bad-ass as it would have been otherwise.

5 out of 10 Reviewed by KennyB

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