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This Workout'll Kill You: Aerobicide, aka Killer Workout

I recently revisited Aerobicide (1987), also known as Killer Workout, a film that's usually considered a fairly unremarkable example of the slasher genre. The plot is straightforward enough: a mysterious killer is murdering people at a posh Hollywood health spa. His or her weapon of death? A large safety pin, of course. I mean, if that isn't remarkable, I don't know what is.

While the film's plot might be simple, the final act makes tries to throw in a bunch of shocker twists, none of which make a lick of sense. The acting throughout is mostly forgettable, except when star Marcia Karr glares menacingly at everyone, which she does in almost every scene. She's glorious as Rhonda, owner of the aptly named Rhonda's Workout. There are also some laughably silly fight scenes between big burly dudes with mullets. The kill scenes are quick and dirty, nothing too memorable.

If this all sounds like I'm telling you Aerobicide isn't worth your time, that is so not t…
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Capsule Reviews: Splatter University

Quick-hit movie reviews for the masses.

Slasher University is definitely one of the dopier slashers of its era, but there's still enjoyment to be had reveling in its endearing amateurism. It feels like a student film padded out to feature length. In fact, 65 minutes of it were filmed in 1981 by director Richard W. Haines, with additional scenes shot the next year to bump it up to a brisk 78 minute running time, then sat on the shelf for several years before Troma Entertainment unleashed into an uncaring world in 1984. As often happens with films like this, though, it eventually turned into a word-of-mouth underground classic.

The plot, paper-thin as it is, involves a string of gruesome murders on a non-specified but totally Catholic college campus, and one plucky new teacher's quest to unearth the identity of the mystery killer - which is so hard to do because everyone on the faculty is acting suspiciously, especially the priests. In between death scenes, we're treated to a…

It Came From the '90s: The Memory of Her

This series looks back at the 1990s and its influence on the generation of people who came of age during the decade. This entry is the result of a friendly challenge to take a brief, seemingly inconsequential moment from my life and explore why it made an impact on me.
Sometimes, when something or other triggers the memory of her, I think about that summer night a hundred years ago when a beautiful dancer invited me to join her in the back room of the strip club, to "get to know each other." I wonder what might've happened had I taken her up on that offer. I wonder how she's doing now.
I'm getting ahead of myself. It all happened one June night in the pivotal year of 1995, when my friends took me a strip club to celebrate my newfound freedom. I had just broken off a monumentally bad several-months long relationship (we were just so wrong for each other) and was currently navigating the start of a healthy, new relationship with an old friend, Naomi, one that would…

Misspent Youth: It's a Living

Looking back at the pop culture mainstays of this Gen-Xer's gloriously misspent youth.

When a friend tweeted recently that the first season of the criminally underrated 1980 sitcom It's a Living, about waitresses at the Above the Top restaurant located atop a swanky Los Angeles hotel, had appeared on Amazon Prime, I literally shouted out loud with joy. Then I spent the rest of the work day eagerly anticipating binging it later that night.

Now, I hadn't seen the show since the 1980s, probably in reruns and when it was in its syndicated run (and retitled as Making a Living). The series debuted in 1980, when I was in kindergarten, and it's entirely possible I watched it as it aired because, as I keep coming back to in this series, we Gen Xers were practically raised by the plethora of excellent pop culture of an era that coincided with the true golden age of the television sitcom.

It's a Living will likely never be considered among the greats, but it was much better th…

Writing Roundup: Cult Classics

It's been a while, so I'm overdue for another odds 'n' sods post, rounding up stuff I've written elsewhere in the great beyond we call the internet. Some of these go back several months, into last year even, and others are more recent, but all of them are about one of my favorite topics: cult classic films. And for me there's no doubt the films discussed in these articles and reviews are absolute cult movie solid gold.

From wisecracking, half-naked interstellar space babes to erotically charged nurses behaving badly, from several different women on brutally single-minded revenge missions to one of the great movie urban legends of all time, these pieces run the exploitation gamut.

For lovers of all things cult cinema—my fellow disciples of Rhonda Shear and USA Up All Night and all you fellow members of Joe Bob Briggs's Drive-In movie mutant family—these are for you. Enjoy.


The Legend of Demi Moore's Backside, Or, I Stripteased on Your Grave
(The Af…

Nicole Kidman: The Others

Selections from Nicole Kidman's  filmography that demonstrate her extraordinary talent and risk-taking commitment.

Alejandro AmenĂ¡bar's Gothic ghost tale The Others (2001) allows Nicole Kidman plenty of room to show off her expansive range as an actor, with each new choice she makes building ever so delicately, layer upon layer, into a performance that's truly transcendent.
As Grace Stewart, a mother of two children with a rare and dangerous sensitivity to light, Kidman positively crackles with anxious energy, even while maintaining a proper mid-century stoicism. The constant fear for her children's safety is expressed masterfully, whether it's through her eyes popping wide open with sudden concern or a quick spike in her voice to denote intense anxiety bursting forth.
The film's twist ending—which I will not spoil here, even though we're talking about a nearly two-decade old film—still packs a wallop today, thanks in no small part to Grace's devastation a…

More Baby Pfeiffer

Let's face facts: I've fallen behind on my Michelle Pfeiffer performance reviews. Life stuff has gotten in the way, plus I've been spending much of time writing four different chapters for inclusion in three forthcoming books (fingers crossed!), and on various other writing commitments.

Excuses, excuses, man! I know, just shut up and get back to La Pfeiffer, right? I hear you, I really do. So, while I'm working on some future reviews (Stardust and Tequila Sunrise are tops on my list of films left to get to), here's an easy breezy Pfeiffer puff piece to hold us all over for a bit.

And what's easier or breezier than Baby Pfeiffer, amirite? Everyone knows I have a serious weakness for that very early career sun-kissed California goddess, during the late 1970s through about 1982 or 1983, right before she went nuclear with Scarface. I've posted about Baby Pfeiffer before, in fact, but why not do it again? What's stopping me?? Nothing! Because there's al…