Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – Death Spa (1989)

Death Spa (1989) - IMDb

What a dazzling corker of an opening! The camera cranes down to the marquee of a health facility and suddenly lightning strikes on the sign. Henceforth the club is “Death Spa” and cinematographer Arledge Armenaki lurks around the corridors with a voyeuristic point-of-view. In a steam room, a curvaceous dancer sensually caresses her body until the temperature increases and she is practically simmering inside.

The preternatural occurrences at the clinic are malevolently ineffable except that director Michael Fischa must’ve sublet the location and quickly doodled a rough outline sans revisions during the production phase. The culprit behind the lunacy could be a possessed artificial intelligence system for the equipment.

Yet how could glitches in the programming tamper with the bolts on a diving board? Queries such as this only accentuate what a colossally muddled mess ‘Death Spa’ is. Somehow owner Michael Evans’s (William Bumiller) handicapped, revenant wife and her miscarried baby might be suspects.

Horror icon Ken Foree is the janitor but he is deprived of any avenging-hero moments. The co-financiers’ refusal to cancel the Mardi Gras festivities is the equivalent to the Amity mayor’s obliviousness in ‘Jaws’. With such a potent setting, chemical burns and midsection tears are ancillary to the smutty, peephole high jinx of women in the shower and various other states of disrobing.

Death Spa - Movies - Special Screenings - The Austin Chronicle

The resolution to the phantasm happenings is deliriously incoherent and in hindsight, a jeering insult to the drag community. This is a film that is a laughable guilty pleasure (the voracious fish attack specifically) in some circles but it is too aridly Agatha Christie for its own turpitude.

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