Killer Workout 1986 Review
Killer Workout 1986
Directed by: David A. Prior
Starring: Marcia Karr, Ted Prior, David James Campbell
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
I was reading the reviews posted recently on the excellent site, Retro Slashers, about slasher hybrids. They rolled out some interesting pieces, including Cruising and the obvious cash-in featuring Chuck Norris, Silent Rage. One that often gets overlooked however is this cheddar drenched throwback, Killer Workout. Although most may think that it’s is a bog standard stalk and slasher and not a crossbreed of any kind, for me it can best be described as a bizarre blend between Prom Night and an eighties fitness video. There were loads of them around back then and thankfully it is a craze that we have long left behind us.
This is also perhaps the most unintentionally self-referential of all eighties genre entries. I mean, what do you think of first when you recall that era? Big hair? Spandex? Sweat bands? Cheesy bubble gum pop? Killer Workout takes every last drop of the above and squeezes them all into an hour and a half’s runtime to create a cocktail of the wackiest variety.
Workout was the second slasher effort from B-movie hack David A. Prior whose début was the actually fairly decent SOV entry, Sledgehammer from 1983. Prior was a prolific filmmaker during the eighties, but had moved on to focus more on the other popular genre staple during those times, the action flick. He returned to his roots for this extravaganza and despite not being often touted as one to remember, this does offer an intriguing journey into the realm of stalk and slash
Grumpy gym owner Rhonda has more of a reason to frown when an unseen someone begins slicing their way through the members of her fitness classes with a large safety pin. As more lifeless corpses turn up in lockers, it is left up to detective Morgan to get to the bottom of the mystery.
If I had to describe Killer Workout in one word, then that word would be ‘wow’; – but let’s be honest that wouldn’t be much of a review, even if it is an apt description of the events that unfold at Rhonda’s Workout throughout the runtime. I remember thinking that I Know What You Did Last Summer was somewhat tacky in its attempt to film everything through the cleavage of Jennifer Love Hewitt. In comparison, it feels like she was dressed in a duffel coat when you see the looming photography in this cheeseball. 75% of the movie is focused on either a sweaty pair of heaving bosoms or a female backside and it’s fair to say that Prior was only looking for certain niche qualities when casting for this shoot. Put it this way, if you’re straight and hooked-up and your libido has gone in to hiding, just watch Killer Workout and it will rekindle that lust for the female form within minutes. Yep, it is that gratuitous that it’s better than Viagra.
Although it’s obvious to see that this was a low budget production, it’s worth noting the soundtrack, which includes various songs from unsigned artists. The majority are quite well produced and even if some of them were laughable (lyrics like, If your body’s feeling big and you feel like Mr. hippo or Mrs. pig you got to work out etc), no one can tell me that they didn’t enjoy the disco monstrosity of, ‘Only You Tonight’. I was watching this on a train and it made me feel like jumping up and dancing. I guess I just get that feeling when I hear pure eighties synthesiser pop with a big bubblegum chorus that will stay in your brain for the next two months. Come on, don’t lie, you know that you loved it too!
When we are not seeing well-endowed bunnies in tight spandex bouncing up and down to the strings of pop oddities, then we are either watching the unseen maniac slaughter them or the male characters going toe to toe in the strangest of locations. As you can imagine by the gymnasium setting, there’s more testosterone here than in a Prison rugby team and so there was bound to be a couple of punch ups. In one of them Chuck (played by the director’s brother) takes on Jim, our suspect número uno to settle a fall out over a babe. Or was it a garbage can? I can’t recall now, but anyway, they pull off their best Hulk Holgan impersonations and roll about on the floor pounding each other repeatedly. When it breaks up though, neither of them has even the faintest bruise.
So 500 or so words and I still haven’t mentioned the killings, which I’m guessing is the real reason why you are watching. Well there’s a large body count and some lashings of crimson, but nothing in terms of suspense. If you ignore the impossibilities of the safety pin as a weapon, then I guess that you could call it a neat gimmick, but the movie’s far too cheesy to be creepy. What is quite astounding is how after eleven dead fitness freaks are wrapped in white body bags and stretchered off to cinema obscurity, it doesn’t affect business at all and Rhonda’s gym remains open all hours for working up a sweat. In some cases, corpses are carried out the back, whilst the strumpets carry on twisting and none of them discuss the sudden loss of their silicone embedded buddies.
The movie concentrates very hard on its mystery aspect and it’s a case of you will either guess it immediately or you won’t at all, but it keeps the plot chugging along nicely. Prior uses his experience and obvious favouritism toward the action genre to even add a gun battle during the climax and if you include the various fist fights, slashings and endless scenes of scantily clad floozies working out, then this has far too much in its gym bag to become tedious. It does however suffer from a lack of creativity in its cinematography and feels somewhat flat and uninspired. Sledgehammer, the director’s previous foray in to stalk and slash cinema, was really gloomy in places and had a couple of memorable set pieces. It’s been noted that there were disagreements between some of the crew members, especially the director of photography, which may explain why this is so pedestrian in the way that it’s conveyed. For me, it was crying out for a tad of tension. If they had used the same energy during the kill scenes as they had when filming the movements of their bazooka breasted bimbos, we would have been discussing a cult classic right now.
Killer Workout is a flame grilled cheddar treat, which fails as a slasher movie, but works as an outrageous slice of nostalgia from an era that most of us love. It’s one that fans will adore, because its so cheesy in everything from its performances and characters to its use of eighties stereotypes. And let’s not forget the soundtrack, which is literally awesome. Even the theme that plays over the opening credits is like a disco’d up version of Halloween’s notorious score. The director was a man with a good sense of humour and it’s easy to see that tongue was firmly in cheek here.
I am not one to favour using a cliché, but this flick really deserves it, because it is in fact so bad that it’s so damn good…
Final Girl √