When browsing a video rental store in the 80’s there were two types of tapes you could always be sure to find plenty of. The first was slasher films. With the likes of Jason and Freddy leading the way, there were always a bunch of masked killers filling the shelves. The other was workout videos. Jane Fonda and her leg warmers were a big deal and many a suburban housewife would rent her exercise tapes while picking up the latest Police Academy movie for the kids. So here’s a brilliant idea…what if the two were combined? Get ready to lose some weight or die trying in 1987’s Killer Workout.
After an opening sequence in which a young model is burned to a crisp in a tanning bed, the action shifts to gym called Rhonda’s Work-out. Rhonda (Marcia Karr) has a pretty good business going. What with lots of hot men and women aerobicizing to an endless playlist of 80’s non-hits what could go wrong? How about a woman being killed in the shower by a shadowy figure wielding a giant safety pin? That’s right, who needs chainsaws. machetes, or gloves with razor fingers when you’ve got a giant novelty safety pin?
Strangely, nobody seems all that bothered by this, even as more killings occur both in and around the gym. That is, except for police detective Morgan (David James Campbell) who believes that new gym employee Chuck (Ted Prior) could be the killer. Chuck, on the other hand, suspects the creepy trainer Jimmy (Fritz Matthews), who spends more time trying to hook up with Rhonda and fellow instructor Jaimy (Teresa Van der Woude) than he does working out. Though the bodies keep piling up (one guy is even smashed in the face with a barbell) customers still show up to work up a sweat. Soon, Det Morgan begins to close in on the killer…but wait, has he found the right safety pin wielding maniac?
I actually got to see Killer Workout (sometimes called Aerobicide) in the theater with an audience. I’m sure that enhanced my enjoyment of the film because, truth be told, this is an awful movie. The structure of the film is very simple: someone gets killed followed by an extended sequence of people (mostly women) working out, then repeat. Heck, in some scenes they’re still zipping up the body bag as the music for the workout scene starts to play. Though the film has its share of gratuitous nudity, the filmmakers try to provide much more titillation through workout scenes. Anybody else remember the 80’s TV show called 20 Minute Workout? One could argue that the way that show was shot had little to do with getting people to exercise. It was workout porn for morning TV. We’ve essentially got the same thing going on here. The exercise scenes are made even more ridiculous by the songs that accompany them. They are absolutely horrible, and yet there is a part of me that desperately wants a copy of the soundtrack album that I’m sure was never released. The songs encapsulate everything that is wonderfully bad about 80’s music.
From a horror standpoint, the film isn’t remotely scary and the bloodshed is pretty minimal. I do have to give some props to the filmmakers, though, for a silly but fun twist ending. It makes the whole tanning bed sequence at the front of the film actually make sense. That’s quite an achievement considering that little else in the film does. I mean think about it….today the patrons of a gym would freak out if someone neglected to wipe down a weight machine after using it. Here everybody just shows up for their workout regardless of it being a favorite hangout of a safety pin killer.
Killer Workout is one of those movies that is so terrible that I have to recommend it. It’s a horror film that won’t scare anyone. However, it is great as an unintentional comedy. Or, you can use it to work out with and try to lose a few pounds.