Plot: Michael (Michael Hurst) has killed his own parents in brutal fashion, but not of his own free will, as he was hypnotized and ordered to carry out the murders. The real killer is Dr. Howell (Gary Day), who used a chemical cocktail to control Michael’s mind and eliminate obstacles to his experiments. Michael’s father was going to turn Howell in for unethical, dangerous research, so Howell turned to murderous ends in order to protect himself and his work. And he feels his work is that important, as he plans to make death a thing of the past. Although he hasn’t cracked the secret to immortal life, he knows he is close, despite some hideous, violent results to the experiments. After the murders, Howell continued his research, but now Michael has been released and while seven years have passed, he still driven to settle the score. As Michael hunts down Howell, he storms into not just danger from the mad doctor, but also hordes of zombie-like subjects on lethal prowls…
Entertainment Value: Death Warmed Up kicks off with a wild sequence, then draws back for a while, but runs down the final stretch with a vengeance and delivers some madness in the last act. I think the finale is by far the film’s best stretch, but the movie is solid throughout and earns its reputation as a low budget shocker, especially in terms of soupy, practical gore effects. I love the premise of this one and the potential for pure craziness is off the charts, but I don’t think Death Warmed Up goes for broke often enough, so some of that potential is burned. This could have been an issue of resources, as when the movie does dial things up, the chaos is uncorked, I just wish the wackiness was more consistent. So when the movie is on point, it is a wild, fun ride, but it can also be slow and even dull at times, though fans of low budget horror are likely used to that, since madness can be expensive. Even so, there is still a good deal of b movie fun to be had here and the finale alone makes this a must see for horror and cult film fans, as it is packed with blood and craziness. Despite some slow stretches, this one is still more than worth a look and I think anyone who appreciates horror, practical gore, and off kilter cinema will find a lot to like here.
The movie has some bare breasts, but doesn’t focus on the sleaze, so don’t expect a tidal wave of female flesh in this one. I have to think the draw for most new viewers will be Death Warmed Up’s reputation for splatter and it comes through on that front, with a nice flow of blood, goop, and medical trauma. The special effects are quite good, much better than you might expect and both the gore related set pieces and the makeup effects are capable. A brutal shotgun assault starts off the movie, then we have skull drilling and some serious surgical squirting, so those with aversions to medical style bloodshed will be covering their eyes at times in this one. The squirting continues with various other wounds and this includes throat slashing, ax wounds, scissor attacks, gut ripping, and an epic full body burn. This might not be up with the splashiest splatter flicks out there, but there’s a good deal of blood thrown around. The dialogue is fine, but doesn’t often veer into all out craziness or even awkward, quotable exchanges. On the craziness scale, the finale is where the bulk of the points are earned and things are wild there, but the movie overall isn’t on that same level. But the finale is enough to rack up some solid scoring, so Death Warmed Up is by no means tame or toned down.
Overall Craziness: 5/10
The Disc: The movie has bowed on Blu-ray from Severin Films, with new remaster sourced from the only existing elements. I love the film’s neon soaked visuals and while the low budget roots and inherent source limitations are evident, I think the movie looks quite good here. Those colors shine in this treatment and while the image isn’t razor sharp, I found detail to be rock solid. I’d have to think this is likely about as good as Death Warmed Up is going to look, so fans should be pleased with how well this new treatment turned out. The extras include interviews with director David Blyth, writer Michael Heath, and actor David Letch, which combine for over an hour of insights into the film’s production. Blyth and Heath return for an audio commentary track as well, so between this session and the interviews, you can learn a good deal about how Death Warmed Up was created. You can also check out some deleted scenes, a tv spot, and several of the film’s trailers. But perhaps the coolest extra is the original New Zealah runs a few minutes longer and presented in full frame.
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