Michael (William Bumiller) owns the hottest health club in Los Angeles but that may not stay true if he can’t do something about all the guests dying. Members get baked alive in the sauna. Another is killed when a malfunctioning workout machine pulls back his arms and causes a rib to burst out of one side of his body. Shower tiles fly off the wall and panic a bunch of naked women. A woman loses her arm in a blender and a man is somehow killed by a frozen fish. Strangely, all of the deaths don’t seem to hurt business as people still keep coming to the gym. Surely, there are other, safer health clubs in Los Angeles.
Michael suspects that his brother-in-law, David (Merritt Butrick), might be to blame for all of the trouble. David is good with computers and since this movie is from 1989, that means that he can do anything. (David is described as being a “hacker,” which may be the first time that overused term was used in a film.) Michael feels that David has never forgiven him for the suicide of his sister. Two useless cops show up to investigate the murders while the spa gets ready for Mardi Gras night.
This incredibly cheesy horror movie used to be a mainstay on HBO, where young viewers like me appreciated all of the gore and slightly older viewers appreciated all of the nudity. Viewed today, Death Spa is a real nostalgia trip. From the leg warmers to the bulky computers to the choreographed workout routines, this is a movie that could only have been made in the 80s. The plot is beyond stupid but some of the gore effects were well-executed and that scene where the frozen fish comes to life continues to amaze. Sadly, this was Merritt Butrick’s last film. The actor, who was best known for playing Captain’s Kirk’s son in The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock, died the same year that Death Spa was released.