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June 4, 2014

Movie Review: Death Spa (Blu-ray,1987)

Anyone hitting the video stores regularly in the 80’s and early 90’s should be familiar with the horror movie sub-label of MPI video called Gorgon Video. The days of VHS are long-gone for the most part and so it seemed for Gorgon…until now! Whenever the Gorgon banner adorned the giant clamshell of titles like the Faces of Death series and Mario Bava’s splattery giallo, you knew what you were in for – something very bloody and often shocking. The label’s comeback starts this summer with the release of Michael Fischa’s Death Spa (aka Witch Bitch)  on DVD and Blu-ray. As a longtime horror fan and someone who watched the grisly trailer over and over when it popped up on the VHS release of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer until I finally saw it on a shitty quality DVD from the UK, I couldn’t be happier.

When Catherine (Shari Shattuck) decides to kill herself after the sudden loss of her child her soul doesn’t quite rest – it becomes a jealous vengeful spirit. She doesn’t haunt a house, or a church or some hotel, she haunts a high-tech workout facility run by computers that’s owned by her handsome husband Michael (William Bumiller). Michael is a ladies’ man and Catherine’s none too keen on him having anyone but her. If it means blowing up heads or tearing gym patrons apart via the workout machines, she'll make it happen!

Death Spa is really over-the-top, and not just in its performances (which are hilarious) or its lame script but in one of the most important areas of any horror film – the gore and T&A department. Aside from Slumber Party Massacre I can’t think of a movie that had a super-soapy skin-filled shower scene and graphic gore FX. Death Spa delivers beautifully in those departments. Heavily censored by the MPAA, Death Spa is in its uncut glory here and looks extra cool in what really a fantastic hi-def is rendering by MPI.

The extra features are big treat on Death Spa. You not only get a commentary with director Mike Fischa, editor Michael Kewley and producer Jamie Beardsley but fans will also get to see one of the finer featurettes/documentaries on any release this year with the one-hour documentary An Exercise in Terror: The Making of Death Spa. Just about everyone involved gets interviewed aside from Fischa. There’s good behind-the-scenes footage edited in between some really solid interviews. Jamie Beardsley is an especially enjoyable and seems pretty fond of the film as is editor Kewley. Two trailers are also included – a tame theatrical trailer and the super gory video trailer mentioned earlier to round out the supplements.

Until I saw Death Spa I always thought Ted Prior’s equally goofy slasher Killer Workout (aka Aerobicde) was the greatest horror flick taking place in a gym, well it ain’t, because Death Spa easily beats it. This disc is a winner all around with its extras and its quality Blu-ray presentation that destroys previous incarnations. Don’t miss this one! Highly Recommended

           (Screencaps Courtesy of Rock! Shock! Pop!)

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