VHS Review: Death Spa aka Witch Bitch

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An unseen evil force takes over an impressive spa, fully equipped with an exemplary gymnasium, dance lessons, a bar, swimming pool, leg warmers, sweat bands, top of the line computer system running the place, and sprinklers shooting chlorine vapor. You know, the essentials.

The film is off to a promising start with the “Witch Bitch” title over the neon Star Body Health Spa sign. Director Michael Fischa leisurely navigates his camera towards the sign as lightening strikes, knocking the neon letters off to expose it’s alternate title, “Death Spa.” All of this – Complete with a ominous, demonic score and 80s synth music. You have to love this score by Peter Kaye. Ending credits song not included, it’s pretty bad. Most 80s power metal ballads are…. At least in low-budget horror films.

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Sounds most excellent and totally rad, doesn’t it? Disappointment follows as our lead girl Laura (Brenda Bakke) is pirouetting across the dance room then seductively dances in front of the window. Then we get to see her lying completely nude in the misty shower room where she starts to rub herself before an unseen force causes the showers to go ape shit. Cut to Michael (William Bumiller) dreaming of a woman burning to death. After being informed of the freak accident, he rushes to the hospital to visit Laura where the doctor tells him that she has low grade burns from chlorine vapor.

A series of freak accidents occur at the gym over several days and not once do any of these customers think twice about picking another gym. Michael’s ex-brother-in-law, David, controls the large computer system that runs the spa. David is fishy and up to no good. Two detectives poke their nose around to find the individual behind all of the strange occurrences. Meanwhile, Michael is convinced his ex wife Catherine is haunting him. Michael’s ex wife had a miscarriage, tragically leading her to severe spinal damage which results in her being stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. This drove her crazy so she doused herself with gasoline and lit a match.

Michael feels Catherine is still with him after receiving messages on the computer systems and the overwhelming feeling of her presence everywhere he goes. So he sees a paranormal investigator who investigates the club after closing. Catherine and David are not our only suspects. The spa manager and lawyer have been sleeping together and conspiring against Michael.  So who is the witch bitch? I will not spoil the ending, although I think it’s pretty obvious. Could it be Michael’s crazy dead wife who seems to be getting “I miss you” messages through? Could it be his whore monger of a manager and his lawyer? Could it be David getting revenge for his sister by dressing as his sister while controlling the computers? Or was it Colonal Mustard in the study with the lead pipe? It’s not rocket science and the ghastly plotline makes you care less and less about ‘whodunit’ and more about the tubular death scenes and hot naked chicks.

The dialogue and acting is complete garbage but the climax makes the (90) minutes totally worth it. Among the mayhem during the fabulous spa costume party is; A girl losing her arm in a blender with buckets of bright red blood spraying all over the place, a man killed by a dead fish, a man is impaled by his neck bone, and my personal favorite death scene where a mirror blows a girls head to smithereens. You can see bits of her face on the floor. Bodies pile up in large numbers during this climax but nobody dies in the film until 25 minutes in where a guy splits his ribs while working out. A young woman’s face is burnt to death in gruesome fashion with the chlorine vapor. There’s a scene where several women are showing (gratuitous nudity scene) and the shower attacks. A diving board magically comes crumbling down but the diver walks away unharmed.

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If it weren’t for all that action, this film wouldn’t be worth seeing. Not even Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead) could save this movie with all of that amateur dialogue. There is one line in particular that had me giggling though, “Besides I’m beta, you’re VHS.” The ex brother-in-law David has a pretty lame moment where he screams, “Noooooooo!” It reminded me of Troll 2. That guy has to be the worst actor in this film.

And what is up with Michael’s wardrobe? I wont even touch his gym wear but he walks around wearing an unzipped jacket without a t-shirt, showing off his body hair. I wonder how this wardrobe was decided. Was he asked to wear an unzipped jacket or did he say to the director, “In this scene I would really like to strut around with an unzipped jacket.”

If you can get past the acting and dialogue, this is a fun little flick. Not as good as Killer Workout but still enjoyable. The sound design was great and so was the set design, fully equipped with pastel colors. Hello, it’s 1989. It might as well be the 90s. It still works though.

“Lets die together and live forever in hell.”