Killer Workout (1986) Review

A young model is deep fried during a terrible tanning bed accident. A few years later the hard bodies at Rhonda’s Work-Out are the targets of a killer armed with a giant safety pin. Despite a massive body count and mountains of evidence, Lt. Morgan (David Campbell) seems unable or unwilling to solve the murders. The action really picks up when kung-fu fighting private eye Chuck (Ted Prior) joins the hunt for the killer.

Killer Workout is so absurd at times that one wonders if it is intended to be a parody of a slasher film. Most of the thirteen murders occur at the gym, yet the high mortality rate never seems to hurt business. Life and death karate battles suddenly erupt while characters are performing mundane tasks like taking out the garbage, finding dead bodies in the gym, and peeping on ladies taking midnight swims. It sounds crazy but watching the hero give a murder witness brain damage with a spinning elbow is actually entertaining. And who knew a safety pin could be so intimidating? Most of the murders could have been prevented if the victims simply lifted an arm to block the repeated stabs to the neck. An armed guard is so terrified by the murder weapon that he forgets to pull his revolver.

To compensate for the thin mystery and ridiculous plot, writer-director David A. Prior fills the screen with mountains of bouncing flesh and rivers of blood. It’s uncanny how the camera always seems to zoom in on the biggest breasts and other naughty bits. While the murders are never gory, there’s still plenty of arterial spray to wet the appetite. The best make-up effects are the burn scars covering Rhonda (Marcia Karr), which Prior must have loved from the amount of screen-time the scars receive.

No one actor dominates the film since so much of the running time is devoted to dancing and weight lifting. Ted Prior makes a better heroic figure than David Campbell, whose face seems to be frozen with a constant scowl. Marcia Karr does nothing to make burn victim Rhonda into a tragic or sympathetic character. he’s colder than a snowflake in Antarctica and meaner than a snake with a toothache. The most likable actress is Teresa Vander Woude, who plays the terminally ditzy Jaimy. I don’t know how well Vander Woude recites her lines but she makes the endless exercise routines more fun to watch.

David A. Prior’s Killer Workout, although dated by horrible fashions and bad synthesizer pop-music, has a timeless message for for its viewers: Exercise Will Kill You Dead. Even though it runs short on logic and scares, Killer Workout still has enough goofy charm to warrant one viewing. The film would make a nice double feature with Death Spa, a similar movie with a supernatural slant.

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