With a name like "Death Spa" one can't be too surprised what this 80's schlock-house feature will bring to the table - but that's not where my confusion was based. I was under the impression that Death Spa fell under the category of other boredom-inducing Slashers from the era, chalking it up to be another entry filled with dumb jocks, air-headed bimbos, and a gym setting...and while this film does encompass some of those elements, the direction it headed offered me a different approach to the usual kill-or-be-killed set up; a product made possible by relatively unknown Austrian director Michael Fischa - so devoid of any form of recognition that he's gone blind from residing so deep underground. A director's popularity is by no means a sure-fire way of distinguishing their movie-making talents but if I'm to be honest with my readers, there's no mistaking that Fischa should stay far, far away from the industry with a pitiful whopper like this embarrassing entry. Allow me to entertain you with a brief synopsis.
Michael Evans is a recent widower and owner of Star Body Health Spa (quite possibly the dumbest name imaginable); a state-of-the-art training facility that's run entirely by a computer. Michael's former brother-in-law David is the lead programmer and mastermind behind this sophisticated machine; his relationship with Michael remains strained after his sister's suicide. The film opens with a young woman by the name of Laura Danders. After a brief conversation with one of her trainers she finds herself alone in the building and before locking up for the night, ventures into the shower room. A freak mishap occurs when the shower head spouts forth a toxic chemical, causing Laura to receive severe burns in addition to a temporary loss of vision. The police are quick to investigate while several suspects appear suspicious: David, the brother-in-law, who remains in charge of the computer system and Priscilla, the general manager who was placed at the scene of the accident later that night. Who is behind these bizarre happenings? Is someone targeting Michael? Can there be saboteurs on the prowl?
If Death Spa's premise alone doesn't sound laughable enough to your liking, the story takes a turn for the worse about half-way in. Themes of the supernatural, sabotage, and demonic possession are all thrown into the melting pot and result in a convoluted telling. The only instance I can see this film gaining any notoriety for being a cult 80's hit is if it was voted into such a state by the same supporters who lobbied a release for Ghoulies IV on DVD...because surely no sane individual would promote such a waste of shelf space; even dust has a more important role than Death Spa does in our universe.
Far off into the future, when we eventually destroy ourselves, an alien race will travel forth to our solar system and subsequently land on our planet. Their mission: to delve deep into our sophisticated relics. A foreign and other-worldly hand would sift through all of the clutter and retrieve a pristine-looking copy of Death Spa on VHS; an item of unknown worth to the distant travelers. In the attempt to access our supposed "archives", their advanced research will procure a device to view the 7 3/8 x 4 1/6 plastic encasement. What ensues is unspeakable - these strange beings will be faced with an hour and 28 minutes of poorly written dialog, stupid-looking special effects, and an inconclusive screenplay that any grade-schooler could have been commissioned to write via Now & Laters. Top it off with an 80's hokey soundtrack that goes nowhere in a hurry. The extraterrestrials will surmise that our race was a rather forgettable one - all thanks to the pangs of curiosity and wonderful that Michael Fischer felt when he embarked on producing this terrible film, going a step further to shamelessly employ a well-known horror icon to boost the market value. Thanks for singlehandedly bringing our civilization to its knees, Mike! I really appreciate it!
Some horror fans might slide down the banister when they learn that Ken Foree plays the role of Marvin - a trainer who works at the fitness center. Foree is most certainly a horror icon as far as acting goes. His most famous role is from George A. Romero's Pennsylvania-based zombie classic, Dawn of the Dead from 1978 as "Peter". Foree also received another prominent role in 1986's From Beyond; an H.P. Lovecraft short story directed by Stuart Gordon, featured alongside fellow veteran Jeffrey Combs (Dr. Herbert West from '85's Re-Animator...another Stuart Gordon classic). For those of you unfamiliar with Ken's work from the past, you may even remember him as Charlie Altamont in The Devil's Rejects.
I'll be the first to admit that I love the idolization of horror actors and actresses...I feel that these individuals are in a league of their own. Unfortunately it's people like this that are slapped on a movie cover regardless of how big their part is in a film. I'm trying desperately not to derail the point I'm making here - Foree's part in Death Spa is a small one, and even if it was more significant, the movie is too pathetic for it to matter.
What would be the proper way to conclude a review for this heap of a film? Are there are any specific plot twists or incredible endings to speak of? No. The finale might strike some people as appealing but only for a split second; almost like catching a glimpse of something interesting and colorful out of the corner of your eye, only to learn that it's a beat-up cardboard box that a gaggle of vermin have been living in.