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Death Spa aka 'Witch Bitch' [Blu-ray]
(Michael Fischa, 1989)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Maljack Productions
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 22,019,939,572 bytes
Feature Size: 13,916,596,224 bytes
Video Bitrate: 17.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: May 27th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1773 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1773 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH), none
• Commentary by director Michael Fischa, producer Jamie Beardsley and editor Michael Kewley
• An Exercise in Terror: The Making of Death Spa (50:55)
Description: 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 s 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. So if you re looking for a real workout from hell, enter DEATH SPA a new exercise in terror!
This campy gorefest is basically a series of outrageous death scenes set in a chi-chi health club which is haunted by the murderous spectre of its owner's late wife (who was burned to death). First taking control of the club's computer-controlled circuitry, the bloodthirsty ghost then decides to possess her gay brother, who begins parading around in sis's clothes and continuing her devilish deeds. For those with a natural antipathy toward the toned-and-tanned set, this tremendously bloody film might offer a guilty chuckle or two for the strong-stomached viewer, who can watch a series of yuppie hardbodies hacked (by blender), torn (by weight machine), burnt (by tanning booth), boiled (by shower), and shredded (by flying glass)... even mauled to death by demonically-possessed carp.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
With a name like "Death Spa" one can't be too surprised what this 80's schlock-house feature will bring to the table - but that's not where my confusion was based. I was under the impression that Death Spa fell under the category of other boredom-inducing Slashers from the era, chalking it up to be another entry filled with dumb jocks, air-headed bimbos, and a gym setting...and while this film does encompass some of those elements, the direction it headed offered me a different approach to the usual kill-or-be-killed set up; a product made possible by relatively unknown Austrian director Michael Fischa - so devoid of any form of recognition that he's gone blind from residing so deep underground. A director's popularity is by no means a sure-fire way of distinguishing their movie-making talents but if I'm to be honest with my readers, there's no mistaking that Fischa should stay far, far away from the industry with a pitiful whopper like this embarrassing entry.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Hey, still so much Antonioni and Bresson still to reach Blu-ray, but at least we have Death Spa. MPI's single-layered edition looks better than you might anticipate for such late 80's schlock. The image quality seems to represent a strong replication with bright colors and texture grain. The bitrate is low and it can tend to look blocky at times but any artifacts seem... appropriate. Close-ups look surprising and there may be a shade of depth exported but mostly the medium shots are, authentically soft. There is a smidgeon of noise ion the most dark scenes. This Blu-ray is a modest, but no one will really care - it looks like a well-kept source and straight transfer without manipulation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio is in the form of a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1773 kbps. It doesn't sound particularly remarkable but the late 80's pop-y score by Peter D. Kaye gives a strong sense of the era and health club milieu. There are some more jolting effects that sound reasonably crisp enough without range or depth. MPI add optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
MPI add a commentary with director Michael Fischa (via satellite in Austria), producer Jamie Beardsley and editor Michael Kewley. Beardsley takes the lead but there isn't much to say beyond remembering, or misremembering, the various support players and some of the effects of the scenes. Fischa humorously remarks that James Cameron studied Death Spa for the advanced effects in his own films. There is also a 50-minute An Exercise in Terror: The Making of Death Spa with Beardsley and other crew talking further about the production with some sequences from the film. There is both a theatrical trailer and a video trailer and the package is dual-format with a DVD enclosed of the feature.
May 17th, 2014
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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