Night #28: Death Spa (1989)


Directed By: Michael Fischa

Do you like hard bodies? Do you like stories about vengeful ghosts? Did you think you were actually watching the other movie about a killer at a gym, the amazingly titled Aerobicide? Congratulations you’re me.

Given that this was made just a year before the decade ended, this ranks up there with one of the most 80s things I’ve seen. I don’t think that people actually exercised in the 80s and instead showed up in crop tops and tiny shorts and lifted tiny weights. All of this while awesome neon lighting and bad music lit the place up.

This is all so incredibly goofy. The unique setting isn’t enough, instead it’s a gym where everything is controlled by a high-tech computer system. Why would you want a gym run by a computer, controlling what resistance your exercise bike is at and whatnot? Who knows, but it’s made this gym the hottest joint in town.

Suffice to say, the way people can die in a spa is pretty limited but you know this one runs the gamut of them all. The best one is glimpsed on the poster, where some guy who looks like film director Zack Snyder. He goes on a machine where the weight increases so much that his chest explodes, which has always been an actual fear of mine and it’s heartening to see that yes it can actually happen. Though unlike the poster the character isn’t a barbarian. Or on fire.

Given that this is set in a gym there’s no shortage of gratuitous nudity. I’ve been in a steam room a few times but you know what I’ve never done? Seductively rubbed down my glistening body. Perhaps it’s a woman thing. Perhaps Death Spa has provided me with hitherto untold insights into the lives of women.

Also, I probably need to look this up and see if anyone else had the same problem but so little of this makes any sense. Not in a nitpicky way either but in a general “Wait, who’s that now?” sort of way. By the time we get to the third act enough characters had been dropped or added that I thought it was possible that I had fallen asleep and somehow ended up with something new.

What I think happens is this: So this guy owns a gym. His brother in law designed the sparkling computer system. The guy’s wife kills herself but because her and her brother were twins she’s able to possess him and so able to do all the killing? Also at the same time his business partner is trying to sabotage things so the guy will have to sell his share of the spa. Not many movies try and provide you with a red herring three-quarters of the way through and after thoroughly establishing that it’s definitely vengeful spirit, but not every movie is Death Spa.

I will say this for it though, the climax is a wild ride of people getting killed off left right and centre. This is also the second use of hand-in-a-blender after Unfriended even though surprise surprise, the one here didn’t make much sense. Ok so not to be gross but say your hand is in a blender and gets mangled up. At some point, there’s not going to be anything to mangle right? Not according to this. I get that shock can kill you but I don’t know, I just like some truthfulness in my movie’s about killer spas. Special mention also goes to the cop character investigating the strange goings on who probably gets one of the more ignoble deaths I’ve seen after he’s locked in a freezer and killed by a frozen sea bass that’s come back to life and goes straight for the throat.

But that’s Death Spa for you. Once you think you’ve got it figured out, they go and up the game.


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