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Death Spa – Unrated (Blu-ray Review)

Death-SpaTake note, Yahoo.  Death Spa (known in other countries as Witch Bitch – no joke!) IS exactly what a cult film is.  This little exploitation horror film came and went back in 1989, went to video and sort disappeared.  MPI has brought it to both Blu-ray and DVD in the US in this new special edition.  Its coming to us under their Gorgon Video label.  And as an aside, I had never seen anything from the Gorgon Video label in the past.  So, let me tell you I was all sorts of amused and loving their logo when it came up before the menu.  You win a ton of nostalgia points for that, Gorgon Video.  Anyway, this film proves to be an absolute treat and there was an absolute sense of care and importance when it comes to this release.

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Film 

Michael owns the very computerized Starbody Health Spa.  Slowly but surely, machine accidents and dead bodies start to pile up at the spa.  Its sort of a murdering spree.  Michael’s ex-wife, who burned to death a year ago, has come back to haunt the spa and cause a lot of hell.  And in her endgame, she locks up the spa and its inhabitants during a masquerade costume party and beings to unleash her fury.

My score is an average on how good the actual film probably is and how much I enjoyed the heck out of it.  Death Spa is a crazy movie that is tongue in cheek, ultra campy, super bloody and crazy exploitative.  I’ve never seen the theatrical cut, but this Unrated one on the release does not hold back and is not afraid to just let loose and go for it in terms of brutal kills and sleezy nudity.  At the same time, it still manages to tell a pretty solid story and keep its narrative even though we’re taking some crazy breaks here and there.

Aside from seeing plenty of naked women, the carnage in this film is awesome.  It uses some good ‘ol practical effects work and is not afraid to flaunt it.  Its also not afraid to just mutilate or explode a person as well.  The film damn well knows how to treat this all too.   I was digging it all.  From head explosions to getting a hand caught in a blender, this isn’t for the most squeamish of people.

Another great part of Death Spa is that this thing is SUPER late 80s.  For one, our setting hits that, as spas like this were huge back then.  Also, the styles and haircuts are in full force.  Not to mention there is plenty of crazy pop generic 80s tunes for everyone to workout too.  And, it all is actually filmed incredibly good and tastefully.  The cinematography on the film isn’t some expert craft, but much better than it deserved.

If you’re into these crazy 80s horror-effects showcase movies, then its definitely for you.  You really just can’t make a movie like Death Spa anymore.  Not that it was some huge phenomenon back then, but looking back now this film is highly entertaining and gives you sort of thrills and adventure that modern cinema just doesn’t give you anymore.  Sort of like that of a film like TerrorVision.  If you’re into these things like I am, you’re bound to have a lot of fun with this late 80s exploitation feature.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1

Clarity/Detail:  This 2K restoration on the transfer is absolutely terrific.  The image is rather sharp, crisp and highly detailed.  I know I’ve mentioned it a lot with other films, but this is one of those that never deserved to look this good.  But the work done here is outstanding.  Fabric texture, dust on surfaces and all sorts of detail runs wild on this transfer.

Depth:  Characters and objects appear rather 3 dimensional and a good sense of being in the forefront of space is ever present.  Distance is also well displayed.

Black Levels:  levels are very dark and rich.  There’s some good shading throughout.  In some really dark scenes, there is some detail lost, but I think it sort of enhances a “spooky” vibe being set.

Color Reproduction:  Being this is 80s, there’s plenty of color and on this disc they pop right up off the screen and they are incredibly vibrant.  The coloring on this film is the absolute highlight of this transfer.  They look outstanding.

Flesh Tones:  Consistent with great facial detail, be it stubble or wrinkles on lips, this one gets it pretty right.

Noise/Artifacts: There is a nice layer of grain, accompanied by some dust/specs that occur lightly throughout and a bit heavier in the footage that I’m guessing was added back in for this Unrated cut.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  This is good track that is set to a good volume and is loud and fun.  The score kicks through your front channels and there’s a great sense of balance with the effects.  Its a good, free-feeling audio track that feels a natural presentation of the films original source audio.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Audio is center-focused, clean and crisp with a good set volume.

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Extras 

Death Spa also comes with the DVD edition of this release.

Commentary With Director Michael Fischa, Producer Jamie Beardsley And Editor Michael Kewley – This group has a blast going through the film with a lot of “remember this” and sharing anecdotes about certain aspects with each scene.  There is never a quiet moment, lots of laughs and manages to stay completely on point throughout.

An Exercise In Terror: The Making Of Death Spa (HD, 50:55) – This documentary alone almost gets the bonus materials a 4 rating.  This is a terrific look back through the history of the passionate production featuring interviews with the cast and crew as well as vintage on set videos and photos.  I love getting the full story of low budget films like this decades later as they feature bluntly honest and fun people talking about them as they’re no longer trying to sell the film but can now be up front about it.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:38) 

Video Trailer (HD, 2:14) 

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Summary 

Gorgon Video has made the most complete and awesome release of Death Spa that is ever going to happen.  The film looks absolutely jaw droppingly fantastic in its new 2K transfer.  The extras are light when listed, but are chalk full of everything you likely ever need from this film barring an interview with Ken Foree.  I had a tone of campy, corny and exploitative fun with this film and its surely going to be a nice piece in my collection that I show people and go back to for some fun myself.  Make it a part of yours!  I love it when these B-movies and Midnight Movie types get these fantastic Blu-ray releases by folks who care and treat them as well as long revered classics (which, they are to a lot of us fans).  Bravo Gorgon Video!  Keep ’em coming!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “Death Spa – Unrated (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    I cannot wait to see this!!!

  2. Death Spa - Cult Cinema Cavalcade

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