Monday, November 16, 2015

KILLER WORKOUT (1986) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: Olive Films I Slasher // Video

Release Date: November 17, 2015
Rated: R
Duration: 85 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 
Video: Full Frame (1.33:1) 
Cast: Ted Prior, Marcia Karr, David James Campbell, Fritz Matthews
Director: David A. Prior
Tagline: Going to the gym may be hazardous to your health. In fact, it could kill you.

Synopsis: Valerie, a model with a promising career, Valerie heads out to the local fitness club to use their sun-tanning bed. She needs to look her best for her Cosmopolitan magazine cover shoot. Alas, Valerie’s visit will end in tragedy when the machine malfunctions, burning her to death. Despite Valerie’s death being a public relations nightmare, things are back up and running at the club with the iron-fisted Rhonda (Marci Karr, Maniac Cop) in charge. But tragedy is lurking just around the corner when another club member is soon found stabbed to death. Enter Lieutenant Morgan (David James Campbell, Scarecrows), the cop on the case. Tasked with solving the crimes, he’s in for more than he expected as the body count rises. Who’s behind the grizzly slayings? What’s their motive? And, who will be the next victim?

Killer Workout is one of my favorite '80s horror entries and for all the wrong reasons, it's a corny slasher from the '80s that is centered around a local fitness club where the aerobic-toned bodies just keep piling up. The killer's weapon of choice is one of the strangest oddities of the movie, a ridiculously over-sized safety, yet it is played straight without any humor intended. However, when you first see that safety pin raised high into the air as the killer prepares to plunge it into the first victim's neck in the shower I dare you not to laugh, this is very silly stuff, but that's why I enjoy it, for the camp and kitsch of this high energy cash-strapped slasher production, not as cash-strapped as maybe the Satan's Blade (1983), also released on Blu-ray from Slasher // Video and Olive Films, but pretty cheap just the same. 

Most '80s slashers are a a bit on the goofy side when it comes down to it, even a solid slasher is just a hair away from falling into camp, and this is one of the goofiest slashers of all, complete with variety of weird characters. We have Rhonda (Marcia Karr) who runs the fitness center with an iron-fist. Then her second in command, the blond tramp Jaimy (Teresa Van Der Woude) with her purse overflowing with rubbers, and there's the muscle headed Jimmy (Fritz Matthews), a regular at the gym who according to Jaimy loves to tie women up and get a little rough, the guy's a creep and one of the most obvious red-herrings.. 

After the first murder Detective Lieutenant Morgan (David James Campbell) arrives at the gym to investigate, meanwhile aerobic classes are still being held in the room next door, they don't even bother to shut down the gym. This guy cracked me up, acting as if he thought this was a hard boiled noir whodunit instead of a cheesy '80s slasher. The next new face on the scene is a handsome, sculpted blond named Chuck (Ted Prior, Deadly Prey), who Rhonda catches snooping through her office, revealing himself to be an investigator of sorts, hired by the mysterious senior partner of the gym. a thread that never comes to anything. Chuck's good looks threaten Jimmy and the two come to fisticuffs in the parking, to the delight of Jaimy who is all too turned-on by Chuck's display of masculine power, cue the hi-energy aerobic music and these two are back at her place and in the sack in record time, this guy could teach Dr. Challis from Halloween III: Season of the Witch a thing or two about bedding women in record time!

Of course more safety-pin murders occur at the gym and in between we're treated to numerous scenes of attractive ladies wrapped in skin-tight spandex, headbands and legwarmers. This is the sort of aerobic-stretching that really tightened my pants as a youth, in the early '80s when I would watch those 20-Minute Workouts on TV before school. Not so much contributing to my love of aerobic exercise but to the massive development of my right-arm, haha. 

I won't spoil the identity of who's murdering these hard bodies in Killer Workout other than to say it was fun and there are a few somewhat shocking moments, including the scarred body of the killer. It's a little on the strange side, maybe not well done, but still a fun slice of '80s slasher cheese with some corny twist and turns that make this a blast to sit through and pick apart for just how silly it is, definitely a relic of the '80s. So throw it on and enjoy the eighties aerobics, the silly songs ('She's a knockout, better look out, she'll take you out !'), the ample nudity and the ridiculousness of the safety pin murders. Only the eighties offered cheese this vintage, many modern indie slasher movie try to capture the aesthetic and unintentional camp witnesses here, but very few can even come close to the authentic stuff.
Audio/VideoDisclaimer: Killer Workout is presented using the best available elements provided by Slasher // Video. Not sourced from an HD Master; remastered from from PAL Beta SP and upconverted to Blu-ray and DVD specifications.  (from the DVD)

Killer Workout is a movie I first acquired through iOffer, a burned copy of poor quality, I had always assumed it was a Shot-On-Video (SOV) movie like Boardinghouse or Blood Cult for the longest time, but it turns out that this is not the case after all. This was shot on film but apparently the only surviving elements was a PAL Beta SP, so what you're watching is pretty much an upconverted version from a PAL formatted tape source with some flaws you're not use to seeing in 1080p HD, such as VHS tracking lines. I think fans of the movie will be quite pleased with what we have here, despite the inherent flaws of the non-HD source material I found this to be a significant upgrade over my burned disc from iOffer. The English DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio is also sourced from a PAL Beta SP and is not crisp by any standard but is not bad, it can be muffled and the dialogue still drops to a very low level during the final moments of the movie, but compared to what we have had available to us before this is an upgrade. This print bares the alternate title card of 'Aerobicide', the original 'Killer Workout' title sequence is available in the extras. 

Onto the extras we have an image gallery of poster art, promotional stuff and VHS box art, the original Killer workout title sequence, and a Slasher // Video re-release trailer for the movie. Unfortunately we do not have any interviews with the late Director David A. Prior, who dies earlier this year, or his brother, actor Ted Prior. I  would have settled for an interview with Marcia Karr but we don't get anything, not even a fan commentary. These are all just nitpicks though, I am pleased as punch that we have this on Blu-ray, this is a movie that in the back of my mind was on an unwritten list of movies that would never see the light of day on an HD format, thanks to the efforts of Jesus Teran and Slasher // Video here it is, not perfect, not widescreen, but as perfect as we are likely to ever have, so dig in. 

Special Features: 

- Photo Gallery (8 Mins) 
- Original Killer Workout Title Sequence (1 Mins) 
- Killer workout Trailer (2 Mins) 

The joy of Killer Workout (AKA Aerobi-cide) is that it's straight-up eighties slasher cheese wrapped-up in neon-colored spandex with some nudity and goofy kills. They can't all be My Bloody Valentine (1981), but they aren't all this enjoyably bad either, you lovers of eighties slasher cheese out there need this in your life, you need it now, so have at it. 3/5