‘You’ll sweat blood!’
Death Spa – aka Witch Bitch is a 1988 American horror feature film directed by Michael Fischa (My Mom’s a Werewolf) from a screenplay by James Bartruff and Mitch Paradise. The movie stars William Bumiller, Brenda Bakke, Ken Foree and Merritt Butrick.
Death Spa was Merritt Butrick’s final film. He died of AIDS-related toxoplasmosis in March 1989. He also appeared in Fright Night Part 2.
The new fitness club in town has everything a health nut could ever want: a variety of workout machines, classes taught by friendly (and frisky) instructors, and a state-of-the-art computer control system for maximum client comfort.
Unfortunately, it is also possessed by the evil spirit of the owner’s dead wife, and before long every dumbbell, leg press, and rowing machine becomes a deadly weapon for her to enact bloody vengeance on the club’s beautiful members…
Reviews [click links to read more]:
“Delivering a generous helping of both gore and female nudity (lots of beauties in this one) is only half of the battle. The other half is defeated by an overly complicated plot, poor lighting, terrible acting and ridiculously awful dialogue, which turn this into a laughable mess in no short time. ” The Bloody Pit of Horror
” …it suffers from the opposite problem by trying too hard. Fischa and company would have done well to take it just a bit easier and let the spa murder do most of the heavy lifting. That said, there’s still quite a bit of physically fit mayhem to be enjoyed here, in all of its skin-tight spandex glory.” Daily Dead
“Is the movie any good? Not really, although as an hour and a half time waster you could do much worse. I give the filmmakers high marks for trying to do something different with the horror genre even if they don’t always succeed. Then again, there’s only so much you can do with a movie about man-eating treadmills.” DVD Verdict
“You have some good kills, gratuitous nudity including a great shower scene and that special kind of cheesy goodness that only seems to come from 80’s movies. And even when the movie completely shifted gears on me I still had fun with it. This is one of those wacky movies that works well as a serious slasher movie and still works when it becomes more like a Night of the Demons cheesy gore fest.” Gutmunchers
“Death Spa is here to not make us think so much. It want to make us laugh because of the absurdity and feel down because the movie ended to quickly. I’m not sure I can go so far as “underrated”, but it’s a good little movie with the heart at the right place, and that’s what I expected when want to see some goofy, bloody, eighties horror.” Ninja Dixon
“If the film only delivered top-notch gore (which it does in spades), it’d be just about everything you expect from a cheap splatter flick. Death Spa puts in extra work, though, with its quirks and eccentricities, like the opening credits, which look like an aerobics video but is scored by ominous Horror Movie Cues.” Oh, the Horror!
“Often the effects are less than convincing on a medical level but they make up for it with lovable enthusiasm and bad taste. Many times the blood keeps gushing so long it turns into a three stooges homage. Mixed in with all this is some terrific terrible dialog.” Rock! Shock! Pop!
“The gloopy splatter effects are fairly impressive including faces melted off, a body-builder torn apart by an exercise machine, an exploding head, a man mauled by reanimated tuna (yes, really) and death by tanning bed, but only make it harder to accept that the Starbody Health Spa could stay open amidst all this mayhem.” The Spinning Image
“There is not a lot in this movie that makes much sense but it sure is fun to watch. I can’t even tell you who the killer (cross-dresser, ghost, Norman Bates?) is or what the hell happened in the final act but it doesn’t even matter. You are not watching a flick like this to come away with a message but rather you are wanting to see some ridiculous dialogue, naked babes, a confused paranormal investigator, and cheesy effects.” The Video Graveyard
Cast and characters:
William Bumiller … Michael Evans
Brenda Bakke … Laura Danvers
Merritt Butrick … David Avery
Robert Lipton … Tom
Alexa Hamilton … Priscilla Wayne
Ken Foree … Marvin
Rosalind Cash … Sgt. Stone
Francis X. McCarthy [as Frank McCarthy] … Lt. Fletcher
Shari Shattuck … Catherine
Hank Cheyne … Robert
Chelsea Field … Darla
Joseph Whipp … Doctor Lido Moray
Karen Michaels … Rhonda
Tané McClure … Vicky
Cindi Dietrich … Linda
Vanessa Bell Calloway [as Vanessa Bell] … Marci Hewitt
David Shaughnessy [as David James Shaughnessy] … Freddie
Norma Leistiko … Doctor Southern
Chad Hayes … Jeffery
Karyn Parsons … Brooke
Ed Hooks … Security Guard
Janice Ryan … Nurse
MPI Home Video originally issued Death Spa on VHS in both R and unrated versions. The alternate title Witch Bitch is apparently the slightly cut (though still adequately gory) version, which is also the version released on DVD by the German company Dragon Film Entertainment.
MOVIES and MANIA rating: