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John’s Horror Corner: Death Spa (1989), sweating out the toxins with some bad 80s horror at its best

June 26, 2013

MY CALL:  SPOILER ALERT!  This movie sucks!  There, I said it.  But I also managed to enjoy it for its immensely funny levels of holy shit awful.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  I’d start with some other totally random wtf older horror flick like Hellgate (1990; funny), The Sentinel (1977; serious).  The Nesting (1981; serious), The Outing (1987; funny), Deadly Blessing (1981; funny), The Possessed (1975; funny), Xtro (1983; super weird) and Superstition (1982; funny).   ALTERNATE TITLE:  Evidently, this movie is also called Witch Bitch..or so the opening credits suggest.

POV shots to weird sound effects, nudity within the first five minutes and a sultry Flashdance routine immediately warn of the quality of the movie to come.  Our flashdancing spa exhibitionist is Laura (Brenda Bakke; Nowhere to Run, Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight) and she is nearly killed when the gym sauna spews caustic gas out of some pipe–clearly in an effort to murder her…because spas do that in this movie  But have no fear, she judo chops to safety through a window and then passes out naked and sweaty before our eyes.

This spa looks like the 80s vomited all over it.  Super short shorts on allegedly straight guys with feathered hair, girls in provocatively snug unitards, lots of hairspray, tights, promiscuity, atrocious movie scoring, legwarmers and a strangely wardrobed black dude (Ken Foree; Dawn of the Dead, The Lords of Salem, Halloween, From Beyond) who the director clearly decided was “tough” because he’s a tall black dude.

As the “spa” continues to strike, its assaults include tampering with a diving board, scalding hot showers and projectile bath tiles flying at naked women, a busted hot water pipe melts the face off of some chick and a needlessly deadly chest-fly machine kills some dude.  Not surprisingly it only takes a few free months of gym membership from the gym owner Michael (William Bumiller; Species) for people to keep coming to the gym where several people have been serially  killed or injured in the past week!    Later some dude has his face squeezed off (the only real latex effort in special effects), a chick’s hand gets blended into a protein shake while it’s still attached to her and there’s a random zombie fish attack…yes, one zombie in the entire movie and it’s a fish.  This movie is the ultimate in random stupidity and ill-execution.  It even includes death by tanning bed–which may be the first time this ever happened on film (?), later copied by the I Know What You Did Last Summer and Final Destination franchises.

After reaching the limits of his tolerance of all these unexplainable events, Michael  hires a paranormal investigator.  He’s a psychometrist (I had to look it up, too).  His character, obviously intended to be interesting, is at the very least as poorly written as the other aspects of this flick.  He’s a boring stereotype and his little value beyond his WTF LOL death scene.

Shower scenes and wet bodies abound in this extra cheesy kill flick in which a HAL-like gym security system takes it upon itself to kill its members like they kill their triceps.  Yup, basically an evil security camera possessed by Michael’s dead wife starts killing people.  However, her real revenge is that the actor who plays her still living lover Michael would never have a better role than he did in this movie.  Why is she doing this?  Essentially, she’s lonely in Hell after killing herself.  So, to get his attention, she possesses the body of her super-creepy twin brother and starts killing everyone at Michael’s gym and she won’t stop unless he kills himself to keep her company.

The gore is laughable and received hardly any effort even for its time with the exception of the occasional melted face.  Meanwhile random blood spritzes and the melted corpses do little to stimulate anything more than an eye-rolling grin.

I’m not gonna’ lie.  I’ve seen better…LMAO. This movie starts and then goes nowhere as it sadly misses the potential of each butchered kill scene one by one.  I’d like to see this remade by Eli Craig, Joss Whedon or Sam Raimi…you know, like the minds behind Evil Dead (2013), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Final Destination 5 (2011), Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Drag Me to Hell (2009), and of course Evil Dead 2 (1987) and The Evil Dead (1981).


18 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2013 9:43 am

    Where did you find this? How did you make it all the way through?

    • johnleavengood permalink
      June 26, 2013 10:27 am

      I bought this at one of those shady horror DVD vendors with the homemade/printed DVD sleeves at a ComicCon. Good stuff, man. They have some real gems.

  2. johnleavengood permalink
    June 26, 2013 10:26 am

    Oh, no. This may be truly awful, but in a VERY fun way. I would watch this again every year with someone who hadn’t seen it. It’s totally bonkers.


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  3. John’s Old School Horror Corner: Flesh Eating Mothers (1988), because babies are delicious! | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Horror Corner: The Lords of Salem (2013), the softer side of Rob Zombie | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. Happy Birthday to Me (2014), a great “bad” 80s horror/slasher flick with plot twists and integrity | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. Dawn of the Dead (1978), if Romero is an artist, the zombie is his brush | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. John’s Horror Corner: The Haunting of Morella (1990), a smutty, possession-themed, boobstravaganza exploitation film with craptastic effects. | Movies, Films & Flix
  8. John’s Horror Corner: Frankenhooker (1990), a raunchy slapstick Frankenstein throwback exploitation film with loads of exploding prostitutes. | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. John’s Horror Corner: Faust: Love of the Damned (2000), a smutty, gory, cheesy movie about soul-selling revenge and deals with the Devil. | Movies, Films & Flix
  10. The Best Horror Workouts, Part 1: Killer Workout (1987), Death Spa (1989) and Happy Birthday to Me (1981) | Movies, Films & Flix
  11. John’s Horror Corner: Uninvited (1988; aka Killer Cat), an evil mutant “cat-thin-a-cat” movie. | Movies, Films & Flix
  12. The Best Horror Workouts, Part 2: The Editor (2014), A Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 4: The Dream Master (1988) and AHS: 1984 (2019) | Movies, Films & Flix
  13. Bad Movie Tuesday: Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), squandering the strong final girl and slapstick bonkers violent legacy of part 2 (1986). | Movies, Films & Flix
  14. John’s Horror Corner: Prison (1987), a positively gory, shocking and bonkers rollercoaster of fun thanks to Renny Harlin! | Movies, Films & Flix
  15. John’s Horror Corner: From a Whisper to a Scream (1987; aka The Offspring), a lower budget horror anthology with some zany-gory special effects. | Movies, Films & Flix

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