What's new in stores and on video shelves this week:
Directed by: Michael Fischa
Run time: 87 minutes
The Lowdown: In the 1980s heyday of video rentals, Gorgon Video stood out among a crowded pact of direct-to-VHS distributors because it reveled in releasing ridiculously over-the-top gore films like “Face of Death” and sleazy schlock like “She Beast” and “The Blood Splattered Bride.”
MPI Media Group has wisely resurrected the cult curio collection that comprised Gorgon's core stable and is reissuing long-forgotten gems like “Death Spa” in remastered high definition.
This is a very good thing.
“Death Spa” may well be the quintessential 1980s time capsule – it's a horror film set in a trendy nautilus and juice bar gym-spa filled with spandexed workout classes populated by women with huge hair and enormous bosoms and musclebound freaks wearing skimpy shorts and tiny tank tops.
Basically, it's “Perfect” with gore.
It's also frequently funny, albeit unintentionally, and features a great genre cast of well-known fan favorites like Shari Shattuck, Brenda Bakke and Ken Foree.
I remember so well the original VHS video box for “Death Spa,” having seen it for years in video stores I either frequented or worked at back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but I never rented it for some unfathomable reason.
Fans would do well to check this one out. It's not a cult classic so much as a welcome blast of cool nostalgia.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – Gratuitous
Gore – Yes.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – A really angry ex-girlfriend demon spirit.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
Blu-Ray Bonus Features – Audio commentary, an in-depth making-of documentary and two trailers.
Sleepaway Camp: Collector's Edition (Shout! Factory, 88 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): If not for the mind-blowing swerve of a full frontal ending, and one brutally sinister kill with a curling iron, “Sleepaway Camp” likely would have been long-forgotten as a low-rent knock-off of “Friday the 13th.” As it is, the film became a cult classic in gender-bending horror that spawned multiple sequels and a legion of diehard fans.
Cheap Thrills (Cinedigm, 88 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): This is how you make a genre film about people being lured unwittingly into a sinister game of one-upmanship. Darkly funny, brutally bloody and seriously intense, “Cheap Thrills” is a knockout. I was rapt with attention throughout and even though I tried to predict all the well-planned swerves I still found myself thoroughly entertained. Go find this one now! You won't be disappointed.
24 Exposures (IFC Midnight, 77 minutes, Unrated, DVD): Joe Swanberg, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett reteam, again, following “V/H/S” and “You're Next!,” for a subversive character study of a fetish photographer who recreates crime scene photos, his happy swinger girlfriend, a suicidal detective and the women that traipse in and out of their beds. It's deeply meta and somewhat lightweight, but still interesting enough to hold your attention, and the gratuitous nudity doesn't hurt at all.
The Universe Season 7 – Ancient Mysteries Solved
House in the Alley
The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Series
How to Train Your Dragon
Hitler and the Nazis
Made in Cartagena: Parte 2
Cimarron Strip: The Complete Series
Journey to the West
The Color of Lies
An Adventure in Space and Time