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DEATH WARMED UP

From New Zealand, a no-budget gorefest of a type that has become fairly common in recent years but wasnít back in 1983.  This explains why DEATH WARMED UP was warmly received back then but has since fallen into neglect.

The Package
     DEATH WARMED UP was a product of the burgeoning New Zealand film industry, which underwent a shift in the eighties from respectful fare like SLEEPING DOGS and SMASH PALACE to wild and bizarre efforts like this film and Peter Jacksonís debut BAD TASTE.  The comparison does this film no favors, as BAD TASTE is a classic of sorts, while DEATH WARMED UP most certainly isnít. 
     FYI, I understand the version of the film released on video in the US was shorn of much gore footage, but I havenít seen the original to compare.

The Story
     On a secluded island a mad doctor is attempting to perfect a serum that can bring people back from the dead.  He tests the substance on young Michael, but succeeds only in turning the guy into a homicidal maniac who promptly heads back to his home and shoots both his parents.
     Years later the mad doctor is still at it, and the unfortunate Michael is aboard a boat heading back to his island.  Heís looking to get revenge.  Also onboard are Mikeís airhead friends, who are unaware of the true reason for his quest.
     Once disembarked, Michael decides to infiltrate the doctorís laboratory through an underground tunnel.  There he and his buddies end up chased by motorcycle riding lab workers; Michael and friends manage to escape, however, and in the process impale one of their pursuers.
     Now on the run, they head for a tavern, but the doctor manages to track them down and drag them back to his lab.  Unfortunately the place is overrun with homicidal mutants created by the doctorís serum.  As you might guess, splatter ensues!

The Direction
     If nothing else, DEATH WARMED UP has a stylish and pleasing look.  Every scene is color coded, and some of the setpieces are good enough that they could easily be inserted into a better film.  The underground motorcycle chase, for instance, is worthy of a Hollywood action movie in its flash and bravura. 
     Of course the filmmakers didnít bother paying the story and characters nearly as much attention.  None of the protagonists ever register as individuals, making it difficult if not impossible to care when one or more of them are killed.  The script is a confused hodge-podge, with an over complicated setup that jumps back forth over several years only to settle into a clichťd story of young twerps in over their empty heads. 
     The bloodletting of the final scenes is also a disappointment.  Itís the reason for what little notoriety the film has amassed, and yet thereís very little of it, and what gore there is pretty standard stuff: stabbings, shootings and a guy burned to death.  Once again, back in 1983 this may have seemed passable, but these days itís just not.   

Vital Statistics

DEATH WARMED UP
IFM World Releasing

Director: David Blyth
Producer: Murray Newey
Screenplay: David Blyth, Michael Heath
Cinematography: James Bartle
Editing: David Huggett
Cast: Michael Hurst, Margaret Umbers, William Upjohn, Norelle Scott, David Letch, Geoff Snell, Gary Day, Bruno Lawrence, Ian Watkin, David Weatherley, Tina Grenville, Nathaniel Lees, Karam Hau, Jonathan Hardy
 


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