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08.23.2017
Death Spa (1989)
Movie Review by The Gravedigger
06.28.14

Death Spa (1989) Is it a computers gone awry movie? Is it a slasher movie? Is it a ghost story? Is it a possession movie? It's all of them in one, from the late 80's. In the opening title sequence we see the exterior of the Star Body Health Spa building at night, with lighting flashing in the background. Some of the letters of the lighted sign go out, spelling out "Death Spa". Inside, a blonde woman named Laura is dancing and then gets scared by one of the trainers (Ken Foree), who is still there. After he leaves she goes to the sauna and gets locked in--and gets 2nd degree chemical burns from the chlorine vapor. Then we go to a man who wakes up from a nightmare of a woman burning in a wheelchair. This is Michael, the owner of the health spa, and the woman in the dream is his deceased wife, Catherine. His phone rings and it's a call from the hospital. He rushes there to see Laura, his girlfriend. She's temporarily blind but should be okay.

We learn that a new fangled computer controls the facility, from the sauna to the exercise equipment, and that the man who programmed it is the dead wife's brother. Soon, another accident happens, with a women getting steamed and tiles flying off the walls. Then a guy nearly gets torn in half from a faulty weight machine. The owner wants to take the computer off-line but his lawyer says "no," that the computer control is what makes the spa unique. So Michael keeps it on--and more people die. Michael comes to believe that his dead wife has something to do with it. There are even messages on the computer screen at work, which say "I miss you, Michael". So he hires a professor/ghost busters type guy to investigate. The poor guy stumbles upon a dead body--and Catherine's ghost. He fires his gun but it explodes, blowing off his hand in slow-motion. Then she telekinetically hurls him thirty feet up into a shaft. The police, of course, think this is all the work of a psycho--and Michael's ex-brother in law is a prime suspect. They go to his apartment and find the wife's burnt up wheelchair--and lots of women's clothes. So now they think he's a transvestite killer. Well, they are only partly right.

Everything culminates at the "Mardis Gra Party" at the spa, during which we find out that Catherine has taken over her brother's body, like she had the computer. She wants her husband to kill himself so they'll be together. If he doesn't she promises to kill his girlfriend, Laura. He doesn't do it--and she really gets angry. What commences is a very CARRIE inspired scene, which includes death by a blender and a detective killed by a dead eel that's being carved up for sushi.

DEATH SPA is a very entertaining mish-mash of sub-genres that could only have been made in the 80's. It's a much better flick than I remembered it to be.

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