Our editor-in-chief Nate Yapp is proud to have contributed to the new book Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks, edited by Aaron Christensen. Another contributors include Anthony Timpone, B.J. Colangelo, Dave Alexander, Classic-Horror.com's own Robert C. Ring and John W. Bowen. Pick up a copy today from Amazon.com!
Killer Workout (1986)
Prolific Grade-D genre director/writer David Prior’s 1986 schlock-fest, Killer Workout, is a difficult film to rate. That’s because much of the time, it is bad enough to be fun, but about as often, it's just painfully bad. However, it still holds an attraction, not completely unlike gazing in fascination at an animal carcass while hiking, that might interest fans with a quirky taste for bad films.
Prior didn’t have much of a story to tell here, but of course, a story isn’t the point. Killer Workout is a fairly pure exploitation flick, having more in common with pornography than anything you learn in film school. This film exists for two reasons: (1) to show a series of moderately inventive slaughter sequences (the traditional goal of horror exploitation flicks), and (2) to cash in on the Aerobics craze of the mid to late 80’s with lots of shots of "Aerobics cheesecake" (Not to be patronizing, but "T&A" for those of you who think I’m talking about desserts). Killer Workout augments these two aspirations, which it realizes by non-creatively alternating them at about five minutes a pop for most of the film, with a stock serial killer mystery plot and some really, really bad disco music, performed by those artists who used to do big hits on K-Tel records, hoping you wouldn’t realize that they weren’t the original artists.
Rather than analyzing this film ad infinitum, though, since it certainly doesn’t call for it, I’d just like to mention a few details that I found particularly amusing. If you haven’t seen it, these will help you decide whether it’s worth the bother. If you have, maybe I’ll bring back a chuckle or two:
- This film contains probably the worst Psycho shower scene rip-off ever filmed.
- It also contains probably the most ridiculous resident stalker weapon of choice in any film that’s not specifically a comedy.
- There’s an incredibly long fight scene between two guys who can’t fight.
- No matter how many bodies turn up, everyone still keeps doing aerobics -- they never close the gym.
- No matter how many bodies turn up, there’s still only one police officer on the case.
- The guy playing the police officer is so bad that he makes an actor who reads a script in monotone sound like Al Pacino in comparison.
- One character actually tries to stop a car speeding towards him with a handgun.
- A highlight of one scene is three gym members spray painting "Aerobicide" and "Death Spa" on the gym’s front window.
- How many people have a hard-wired telephone in their garden?
- Incredibly, Prior manages to make one scene almost good! That’s the long chase sequence through the construction site. It’s a great set, and for the most part, he shoots it right.
But probably the most surprising thing, in retrospect, is that not only has Prior had a long, fruitful career, but almost every member of the principle cast went on to make additional films -- at least until the start of the 90s, when the market for bad horror on videotape bottomed out (was it simply the novelty of being able to buy videos at a reasonable price that caused no one to notice how terrible these flicks were at the time?)
Exploitation films can go any way-from good, solid films, to simply awful, to awful but funny. Killer Workout never approaches the "good, solid" category, and too often is just plain awful. But it’s entertaining enough, and provides a good dose of shameless, tacky, extremely soft-core porn if you’re into that sort of thing, that it’s worth your while if you’re a connoisseur of bad films. Definitely not recommended for feminists.