Wicked Wednesday: Death Spa (1989)

Why do I do this to myself?

Each week, I spend hours researching movies that sound interesting and good. Things I want to watch and write about. And yet…and yet I find myself here. Watching Death Spa.

Death Spa is about as weird as you’d expect. It’s full-powered 80’s with an incredibly bizarre plotline that doesn’t bother to explain itself. But, with a weirdly high quality of dancing.

Michael is the owner of Starbody Health Spa. The health spa isn’t like just any ordinary spa: it’s run by a computer. The computer system helps each member with a custom work outs.

Oh, and it malfunctions in ways that causes strange and dangerous accidents.

The first is Laura, Michael’s girlfriend. She gets burns while spending time sweating it out in the sauna. The following day, a pair of police investigators arrive at the spa to interview Michael and David, Michael’s former brother-in-law who runs the spa’s computer system.

David’s sister, Catherine, died by suicide the year before by setting herself on fire in a wheelchair. The two men hardly get along, as David suspects that Michael cheated on Catherine while she was still alive.

Michael’s lawyer insists that the computer system stays running as is, or the club will lose its appeal. Michael somehow agrees to this despite the fact that several women are attacked in the showers by hot water and shooting wall tiles.

Laura eventually heals from her injuries (completely unscathed for a woman in a chemical attack). Michael invites her to move in, and she agrees. They go to get Laura’s stuff from the health club, where Michael finds a strange message for him on the computer screen.

Suspecting that the going-ons at the club might have something to do with his dead wife, Michael goes to see a parapsychologist. Dr Lido suggests that he go to the club himself to get a better understanding of what is going on. Somehow (again) Michael agrees to the (very stupid) idea.

Dr Lido is killed by a woman in white. And it shocks no one…besides maybe Michael.

Meanwhile, while Laura is away, David stops by. The poor woman can’t see, but she allows David in anyway. He claims to have done something to Michael’s computer, but when Michael arrives home that night, he can’t figure out what. But don’t worry, this is pretty inconsequential anyway.

Upon investigating Dr Lido’s death, Michael finds his lawyer’s watch in the basement. He confronts his lawyer, but it’s the lawyer’s girlfriend who admits to tampering with the club. They wanted to buy it from Michael at a low price.

But no matter. There’s an ex-brother-in-law to track now! For some reason! Despite the fact that someone

Michael takes the police officers to David’s apartment where they find it overflowing with shit. Somehow they come to the conclusion that David is involved (he does have the wheelchair that Catherine burned herself alive in – which is really just a nice memorial).

They all agree to keep an eye out for David at the spa’s Mardi Gras party. But Catherine/David kills the look out and begins to wreck havoc before you can say “but why is the club still open???”

Catherine/David attacks Laura and ties her to a tanning bed. Using the poor girl as leverage, Michael appears and tries to talk sense into the siblings. He distracts the David half enough that Michael can run away and save Laura.

Unfortunately, most of the club is getting killed off in the meantime. Laura uses the computer to lock the doors of the club and set it on fire. But Michael decides to blow up the entire computer system using the wires and his shoes(?). While many corpses lay behind, Michael and Laura manage to escape along with, more importantly, Rosalind Cash and Ken Foree.

There’s a lot I don’t get here. Death Spa literally tries to do everything: the dual personalities, the suicide, the woman scorned, the evil computer, the scheming employees, twins, and dead babies. But nothing is fully explained here!

How did David come to be possessed by Catherine? Why wasn’t Michael sad to see his dead wife? Was Michael really cheating on his dead wife? Michael spends most of this movie being the hero and being a skeeze ball.

The movie had some inventive deaths, as is unsurprising for an 80s slasher. But it sort of has to be in order to be memorable. This isn’t the only health club-themed horror movie, and it certainly isn’t the best. But it is bizarre enough to warrant a watch for a laugh.

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