The streaming services of 2023 are filled with many movies. One of them is Killer Workout.
Killer Workout (also known by the inferior title of Aerobicide) is a 1987 slasher film. I have a weakness for ’80s slasher films and can often be charmed by even the campiest of them–which is a good thing, since the genre, with rare exceptions, is not famous for its quality. But there’s bad, and then there’s Killer Workout. I have only myself to blame for this. When you hear about a movie on a podcast devoted to bad movies and decide to watch it anyway, you’re Michael Bluth with the dead dove. I don’t know what I expected.
The level of failure here is almost inventive, as if director David A. Prior went relentlessly in search of new and exciting ways to make his movie as little like a movie as possible. The bare bones plot centers on Rhonda’s Workout, a fitness center full of peppy dancing, spandex, gratuitous t & a, and murder. (I’m going to spoil this for you, because you shouldn’t watch this movie.) Rhonda (Marcia Karr) herself used to be Valerie, an up-and-coming model who was fried like an egg in a tragic tanning bed accident. Valerie, her life in ruins but her face magically unblemished, has not heard of, say, doing makeup commercials; instead, she changes her name, starts a gym, and begins periodically murdering clients whose beauty she envies. This is already, start-to-finish, a terrible plot, full of contrivances, misogyny, and outright cheats.
But it’s the little things that make Killer Workout such a baffling viewing experience. It’s the giant safety pin Rhonda uses a murder weapon. It’s the shoehorned-in martial arts–or “martial arts,” more accurately–sequences. It’s the cop who threatens to do an autopsy on someone’s face, snarls that Rhonda’s looks would make any man want to vomit, and attempts the world’s most inept vigilante murder (not all in one scene, alas). It’s the stilted, artificial delivery of almost every line. It’s the long stretches of aerobics that only serve to remind you of the days of those unrated “fitness” videos, Blockbuster’s pornographic loophole.
Now, the sheer clown car pile-up here may sound appealing in a bad movie kind of way, but Killer Workout–to continue a theme–gets off on being withholding. There is no scrappy joy here, no passion, not even any real sense of the weird: those are all qualities that let you glimpse the point of view behind the film, give you a feeling of shared humanity with the people who made it. Killer Workout might as well have been written by time-traveling ChatGPT. There’s not even any prurience–if the movie were horny or enthusiastically gory, those would at least be adjectives that would imply a sliver of potential enjoyment on someone’s part. (Yes, technically there’s a bit of nudity, but it’s shot without any concept of human desire; you might as well be looking at a picture in a medical textbook.) There’s no restraint, because there’s nothing there to restrain; there’s no self-indulgent excess, because there’s no self, no pleasure in wanting anything enough to go back for more.
This is a shoddy, soulless mess, and each scene transition might as well be a shrug. Do not watch it. I did this to myself, but there’s no reason you have to follow in my footsteps. The dove is dead.
Killer Workout is on Tubi, where it’s presented with actual VHS-style static. This is the lovingly restored cut this movie deserve.