I am a proponent of aerobics-sploitation films. Stuff like HEAVENLY BODIES and PERFECT are my idea of a delightfully good time (in fact, I hope that both of those films land on Blu-ray at some point). Those are more dramatic aerobics movies of course and then you have things like DEATH SPA , KILLER WORKOUT (aka AEROBICIDE) and MURDER ROCK on the horror-y end of the spectrum. It's all part of a time in movies when people were trying to cash in on the excercise fad that was heavy duty in the 1980s. As PERFECT poses as its thesis, "Are health clubs the singles bars of the 80s?". They kind of were, but regardless it was a milieu that movie-goers in that period were quite familiar with. Everybody had seen and remembered Oliva Newton-John clad in spandex workout gear belting out her song "Physical" in that infamous music video from 1981. Sweaty was sexy (as it kind of still is) and toning one's physique was all the rage. What better place then to set a slasher movie than at a local gym. KILLER WORKOUT has all the regular trappings of the genre including an inciting incident where a woman is killed in the opening scene (in a tanning salon). From there, we flash forward to the present day, where a woman named Rhonda runs her own health club and sports awesome sweatshirts that say "Rhonda's Workout" (you'll want to own one after seeing this movie). Then, of course, people start dying at the club and it's on and we've got ourselves a slasher flick. The most enjoyable thing about this one is the setting and the costumes and the performances. All are grade A number one 1980s and will surely light your fire if you are a die hard nostalgist like myself.
Get KILLER WORKOUT on Blu-ray here:
David A. Prior had some kind of a banner year in 1987. Not only did he put out one of the more entertaining slasher movies in that cycle, he also put out one of the most entertaining "The Most Dangerous Game" knockoffs ever made. And with his brother in the lead no less. Never heard of Ted Prior? You'll never forget him after you see this movie. DEADLY PREY is a classic example of the "you picked the wrong guy" genre. Ted Prior plays Mike Danton. He is an ex-marine who served in 'Nam and he is your worst nightmare. An evil mercenary group decides to kidnap people off the street to hunt them for training purposes, but when they pick up Mike Danton they soon find themselves in way over their heads. And so begins the carnage. Mike Danton is like the Cyberdyne System's John Rambo - he's just unstoppable. And unlike Schwarzenegger or Stallone, Mike can rock a pair of jorts like nobody's business. DEADLY PREY is a big part of the reason that the phrase "Holy F*cking Sh*t movie" was even born. It is cheesy and ridiculous and violent as all hell but so incredibly entertaining as to be completely delightful. Must be seen to be believed and must be watched by you and a group of your friends for the best possible experience. It's nice to finally have this movie on a format other than VHS.
-Interview with Makeup Effects Artist Jack Hojohn.
SHOCK 'EM DEAD (1991; Mark Freed)
The "Heavy Metal Horror" sub-genre doesn't get enough love. I like that this as even a thing at all, let alone a kinda big thing that brought about such classics as BLACK ROSES, ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE, TRICK OR TREAT, ROCKTOBER BLOOD and more. SHOCK 'EM DEAD has the distinction of being a prestigious and memorable Heavy metal Horror flick not only for its unabashed 80s-ness (despite coming out in 1991) in the outfits and music contained therein, but also because it co-stars the legendary Traci Lords herself. It's kind of your standard "nerd sells soul to devil to become rock god" kind of tale, but with the added element that the nerd has to feed on the souls of other folks to keep himself going. So there's soul-eating, earth-shaking rock, a good deal of gore, out of this world black magic and trying to seduce Traci Lords and it's all pretty amazing. Should absolutely be a part of your next Heavy metal Horror film festival.
The SHOCK 'EM DEAD Blu-ray is absolutely stacked with extras:
-"Director's Cut" of the film.
-An Audio commentary with Director Mark Freed.
-Interview with Mark Freed.
-Cast Reunion 2015.
-Deleted & Extended Scenes.
-Cast Revisits Audition Tapes.
-Cast views and Comments on Deleted Scenes.
Okay so the big question on everyone's mind I'm sure is "How do the transfers look?". Well, let me first preface by saying that I am by no means the greatest judge of A/V quality. That's a big part of why I don't mention the transfers a lot on the reviews I post here on the site. I'm pretty easy going when it comes to this stuff, so I know that my thoughts on a transfer will probably not always be shared by those that are sticklers for such things. Unless the quality interferes with my personal enjoyment of the film or is just eye-poppingly gorgeous, I'm not likely to mention much about it. That said, I know that all of us that were anticipating these Blu-rays were certainly aware of the fact that the elements that were used for these transfers were video elements (PAL Beta SP for KILLER WORKOUT & DEADLY PREY and 1' tape for SHOCK 'EM DEAD). These sources were upconverted to Blu-ray and DVD specifications. So how do they look? Not amazing in all honesty. They look like video masters all the way (all of them are 1.33:1 by the way). The colors are certainly brighter, but as for detail, it's about where you'd think it would be with a tape master. Don't get me wrong, these do look better than a straight VHS dub or something, but I feel like folks should keep the quality in mind when purchasing. A few things to consider with these titles. First off, I'm not sure we're going to see better versions any time soon. I can't say that I know the specifics in terms of what lengths Slasher Video went to to get the source materials for these discs, but I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt about doing their best to get the highest quality materials they possibly could. On the upside, I honestly stopped thinking about the quality a little ways into watching each movie. I think that all three of these movies are kinda awesome in their own oddball ways and there is something about the tape aesthetic that works well for all of them. To see these movies in glistening, crisp HD would honestly be more distracting I think. Call me easy, but I am just glad to have them on disc finally and out there for more folks to discover and enjoy. Your mileage may vary.