Review: Death Warmed Up
Blu-ray/DVD/Digital: Death Warmed Up (1984)
Michael Tucker (Michael Hurst) is put into a psychiatric hospital after murdering his parents. However, he claims that he was programmed by a genetic surgeon to do so, and when he is finally released from the hospital he wants revenge.
Death Warmed Up was a cult hit on VHS and one that I remember renting (and then buying) from a video store upon its release in the 1980’s. I hadn’t rewatched the movie since way back then, so it was a treat when the Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray of it dropped through the letterbox here at 60MW Towers.
The big question is: did it hold up to my memories of enjoying it on VHS all those years ago?
The answer is a mixed bag of yes and no.
The picture quality is of course far superior to my VHS version (though the addition of the New Zealand original 4:3 VHS cut is an inspired special feature) and it has a great commentary track along with other entertaining and informative special features. The gore is still as outlandish as ever, and the practical effects (however low budget they are) are still always preferable to me than cgi.
It is the narrative though that threw me…I’d forgotten how completely and utterly bonkers the whole movie is!
Often not making any sense at all, the ‘plot’ goes off on tangents that lead nowhere at all and leave you scratching your head as to what the hell is going on, only to draw you back in with an exploding head…or a close-up of brain surgery…or gratuitous nudity.
Somewhere along the line Dr Archer Howell (Gary Day) has been experimenting on humans by drilling into their skulls and injecting drugs into them.
Hidden away on an isolated island, he thinks he is safe to do what he wants…until Michael appears.
Lots of other stuff happens too, but it’s all so damn random! It’s like somebody wrote a script, then tore it up into little pieces, threw it all up in the air, blindfolded themselves while piecing it together, then let the actors adlib while filming too.
This is definitely a ‘marmite movie’, where you’ll either hate it and turn it off before the end credits roll, or love it and cheer most of the way through. This perfectly fits the ‘weekend evening with beers and like-minded friends’ category.
If you’re the type of person who loves the more obscure side of cinema, then this is by far the best way to watch Death Warmed Up…and don’t forget to go through the special features too.
If however you prefer the more mainstream cinematic output, you should approach with caution…but definitely with beers…lots of beers.
- Audio commentary with Director David Blyth and Writer Michael Heath
- I’LL GET YOU ALL: Interview with actor David Letch
- Deleted/Missing scenes with optional audio commentary
- Original New Zealand 4:3 VHS cut
- Interview featurette with David Blyth and Michael Heath
- Theatrical trailer
- VHS Trailers
- TV Spot
- Image gallery
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