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Saturday, April 27, 2019

DEATH WARMED UP -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

The cover art for Severin Films' Blu-ray release of the 1984 New Zealand sci-fi/horror extravaganza DEATH WARMED UP gives barely a hint of what a bloody, violent cavalcade of carnage that awaits within. 

This low-budget, high-octane thriller is packed with everything from breakneck action to fountains of gore, with a slow build-up in the first half giving way to a second half that barely stops to take a jagged breath.

Michael Tucker (Michael Hurst, BITCH SLAP) is a young man who is chemically hynotized into killing his own parents (in a shocking shotgun murder scene) by an unscruplous scientist named Howell (Gary Day, NIGHTMARES) because his partner, Michael's father, was threatening to blow the whistle on Howell's dangerous experiments in prolonging life in hopes of abolishing death altogether.

Naturally, these experiments only result in a new strain of horrible, prolonged death that transforms victims into kill-crazy zombie maniacs whose roiling innards are primed to eventually explode. 

And thankfully, we don't just have to imagine this ourselves after having it described to us, since the film's final, frantic people vs. monsters free-for-all will plunge viewers neck-deep into all the gory carnage a horror fan could hope for.

This is brought about when Michael, emerging after seven years in the nut house for killing his parents, travels to Dr. Howell's island clinic looking for revenge.

Along to help is his friend Lucas (William Upjohn, DARK CITY) as well as, for some reason, their unwilling girlfriends Sandy (Margaret Umbers, SMASH PALACE) and Jeannie (Norelle Scott).

The opening--up to and including Michael's murder of his parents--reminded me of another New Zealand classic, Michael Laughlin's DEAD KIDS, while the middle section, with Dr. Howell's freaky motorcycle-punk henchmen (including David Letch as the wretched "Spider") attacking our heroes as they try to infiltrate the clinic via an old system of tunnels, gives off a distinct MAD MAX vibe. 

But the moment all of Dr. Howell's super-strong, super-psycho "failed experiments" break out of their cells and go on the attack against everyone in the science facility, including Michael and his hapless crew, DEATH WARMED UP lapses into pure, unadulterated bloody chaos strewn with throbbing brains, exploding entrails, wall-to-wall body parts, and rivers of the old red stuff. 

All of this is depicted in imaginative style by David Blyth (MY GRANDPA IS A VAMPIRE, GHOST BRIDE), whose mobile camera and sharp editing keep everything visually interesting throughout.  The cast are well up to the intensity of the story, while production design and SPFX utilize the $400,000 budget to its fullest.

DEATH WARMED UP is packed with situations bleak and grim, yet offers a wealth of fun and excitement to those who get off on this sort of small-scale apocalyptic action.  I felt like I'd been put through a wringer, and when it was over I wanted to go through it again.

Buy it from Severin Films

Street date: April 30, 2019

Special Features:

    BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE: Original New Zealand 4×3 VHS cut
    Audio Commentary with Director David Blyth and Writer Michael Heath
    I’ll Get You All: Interview with Actor David Letch
    Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary by Director David Blyth and Writer Michael Heath
    Interview Featurette with David Blyth and Michael Heath
    Theatrical trailer
    VHS  trailers
    TV Spot

    Reversible cover art


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