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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day 269: Killer Workout

Killer Workout 
All filler, no killer

Basing an entire horror movie around a fad is never a good idea. Would you really want to see a scary movie about ultimate Frisbee, the Atkins diet, or Pokemon cards? Passing fads are just that: passing. What may be “in” at the time will just look silly 5, 10, or 20 years later. Basing your movie on a trend forces the movie into a tight niche and limits possibilities. It does allow for creative violence, but that requires good writing and clever ideas. Who needs good writing when you have a slasher movie about aerobics?

Killer Workout (also know as Aerobicide) is a 1987 slasher horror movie starring Marcia Karr (Real Genius, Maniac Cop) as gym owner Rhonda Johnson. The movie begins with Valerie Johnson, a model about to break it big, who was horribly burned in a freak tanning bed accident. Two years later, Valerie's twin sister Rhonda is running a local gym where aerobics classes are all the craze. An unknown killer begins murdering gym goers with a large safety pin, leaving few clues behind. Detective Lieutenant Morgan (David James Campbell, Scarecrows) starts to follow the case, trying to find out who the killer is. At the same time, Chuck Dawson (Ted Prior, Surf Nazis Must Die, Born Killer) begins working at the gym, drawing the ire of muscle head co-worker, Jimmy (Fritz Matthews, Born Killer, Operation Warzone). The two come to blows with Chuck coming out the victor. The body count begins to rise as Det. Morgan (slowly) gets closer to uncovering who the killer is. Is it the new guy, Chuck? Is it the unhinged Jimmy? How does Rhonda's sister Valerie fit in to all of this and what is Rhonda hiding?


I feel pretty silly criticizing a slasher movie set to aerobics music, but I'm going to do it anyway. Killer Workout actually came quite late to the slasher crazy which really began in the late 70's. In true slasher/exploitation form, we get lots of T & A thanks to multiple scenes of women during aerobics. There's enough pelvic thrusts and squats to make your own hips hurt. I lost count around the fifth time the movie felt the need to show us aerobic workouts. The movie also gives us loads of hilariously cheesy 80's workout music, complete with lyrics about pushing things to the limit, working hard, and other cliches. Admittedly, the music is kind of catchy, but for whatever reason, the music continues during scenes with dialogue. The version I watched was a poor VHS transfer to online, so the dialogue was hard enough to hear without the music blaring on top of it. There is a decent amount of violence and blood in the movie, but there is a serious lack of creative killing. You'd think setting a slasher film in a gym would allow for all sorts of violence with weights and machines, but sadly, that's not the case.

There really isn't much to Killer Workout's story beyond pretty women being killed. The choice of a large safety pin being used as the weapon is certainly, uh, unique to say the least. It's completely random other than to show the audience who the real killer is at the end. Why a safety pin? Your guess is as good as mine. The movie does have a twist, but it's not shocking since I didn't even know a twist was possible. I didn't even know Valerie and Rhonda were related until the reveal. Initially, I thought Valerie was just a random victim of the killer. They should have made the connection clearer in order to make the twist more interesting. Det. Morgan may be one of the most inept police officers in movie history. His detective skills move at a snail's pace and he's a complete asshole every time he's on the screen. It's a combination of bad writing and even worse acting. The inclusion of Chuck is rendered moot when he eventually disappears towards the end. The various fight scenes, including a drawn-out chase through an empty construction sight (yes, really) are all unintentionally hilarious and worthy of a Rifftrax/Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment.

Someone set her makeup applicator to "Homicidal Clown"

Whenever you focus a movie on a very specific trend, you're bound to look silly a few years later. Having a slasher movie based around aerobic workouts in the 1980's makes sense, but in 2012, it comes off as a novelty. It's like having a horror movie about Zoomba workouts. The movie has lots of suggestive dancing and clothes, but a relatively low amount of nudity. The acting is pretty bad and some of the characters are barely developed. The violence is decent, though the use of a big safety pin as the murder weapon still confounds me. Killer Workout is best seen with a group of friends who like to make jokes during movies. It still manages to be entertaining, but mostly for the wrong reasons. The horror isn't great, but Killer Workout is a fun little snapshot in time when spandex and big hair ruled.


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