Thursday, June 7, 2012
Death Warmed Up (1984)
The international horror scene has always been one of interest to me. Italy has their surrealistic nightmarish zombies and slashers, Asia has freaky ghost stories, usually with at least one spooky ghost child with long black hair, and New Zealand just loves to take as much gore as they can and cram it into as lean a running time as possible. Before Peter Jackson delivered Bad Taste, there was Death Warmed Up.
Death Warmed Up tells the tale of a young man out for revenge on the mad scientist who hypnotized him and got him to kill his parents. Michael Hurst, later the co-star of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, stars as the young man (named Michael Tucker) and at the open of the film we see him witness an argument between his father and Dr. Howell, the mad scientist in question, concerning Howell's brain experiments which Michael has been participating in. Actually, it's more along the lines of Howell having a psychotic episode but that's neither here nor there since it just leads to the setup of the story.
After the murders, Michael spends seven years in an insane asylum and he heads after Dr. Howell who is now working on a secluded island, as so many mad scientists tend to do. Michael ends up on the island with some friends and it turns out the experiments have the rather nasty side effect of turning the patients into deranged zombies.
While the film has generated a pretty good rep for itself, mainly due to it being hard to get a hold of, it's really not as awesome as some might think. The gore is well done and plentiful, director David Blyth gets some interesting camera work out of his DP and the story has a wild sense of energy to it once it gets going but the film has a rather disjointed feel to it, thanks largely to the almost non-existent plot. I certainly don't expect a low budget splatter film to be as well done as a David Mamet play, I do appreciate it when a little more thought is put into the writing. Characterization is minimal, Hurst isn't exactly sympathetic in the role and the downer non-ending is a cop-out.
Still, I love mad scientist films that go nuts like this (excluding the Human Centipede films...Yuck!) so if you're looking for a fun, gory romp that doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense, this is worth checking out. You can find it on a few 50 Movie Packs.