Blu-ray Review: 'Death Spa'

By: Heather Seebach

This release is exciting for multiple reasons: not only does it bring this campy 80s gem to DVD and Blu-ray for the first time, but it also marks the return of Gorgon Video! There are some bonus tingles to be had just seeing that Medusa logo again. Death Spa also happens to be ridiculously fun and now it looks better than ever.

 Starbody Health Spa is a trendy new L.A. fitness center packed with young hard-bodies and controlled entirely by a computer system. A series of freak accidents involving spa employees puts blame on the new technology and its programmer (Merritt Butrick) but something far more sinister is at work. An evil spirit has possessed the gym, using everything from workout machines to lockers to exact vengeance upon the owner, Michael (William Bumiller) and everyone he cares about.

The first thing you notice about Death Spa is the care that clearly went into its style. It's not often that you see a trashy horror film open with an homage to Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. The clever title reveal, the continuous tracking shot into the gym, and the color scheme immediately grab your interest more than any film about an evil health spa has a right to. 

The next overwhelming fact you cannot miss is how incredibly, er, 80s this movie is. Neon spandex and shoulder pads galore! It's corny and colorful but boy is it fun! The whole cast holds their own but a notable few chew scenery with ease and steal the show - namely, Butrick as the creeptastic computer programmer, David, and Shari Shattuck as the evil incarnate. Genre favorite Ken Foree also runs around in his boxers and gives what is perhaps the best low-five ever put to film!

Death Spa is certainly lacking in logic at times but it more than makes up for that with enthusiasm. As a self-proclaimed "haunted health spa" film, it tried to go somewhere new with the genre and it has a few genuinely spooky moments. Still, it is the gore that stands out the most. Honestly, the gore FX are not good but they are ambitious. Ridiculous and low-budget though they may be, the big ones are undeniably satisfying, like this epic exploding head moment:

This one is every bit as ridiculous as you would expect of a film that is alternatively known as Witch Bitch and was co-written by a dude named Mitch Paradise. It is a large chunk of cheese with some truly cheeky, memorable moments. Fans of schlock will definitely not be bored!

Bonus Features:

This release includes a commentary track with director Michael Fischa, producer Jamie Beardsley, and editor Michael Kewley. There is also a 50-minute making-of documentary called "An Exercise in Terror" which includes interviews and footage from the set. This is a must-watch for fans of the film, or anyone interested in low-budget horror filmmaking. I loved hearing stories from the set and the original footage is a real treat. I only wish the doc included more discussion about those infamous gore FX! Finally, the Blu-ray includes both the theatrical and home video trailers, which are always fun to watch for nostalgia purposes.

The DVD/Blu-ray combo pack is now available! I definitely recommend this release for fans of horror and so-bad-they're-good films. Pick up your copy by clicking the widget below!

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