ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roger Braden runs the Facebook group Valley Nightmares, which is all about the history of the films that played at the drive-ins and theaters in his home state of Kentucky. He’s a great guy and I’m excited to read his take on this movie.
Also known as Death Warmed Over and Robot Maniac, New Zealand’s first splatter film pre-dates Peter Jacksons Bad Taste by 3 years, and was quite the shocker when first unleashed to theaters and later on VHS.
A group of friends and myself would have a movie night every weekend during the 1980s VHS rental boom, usually at my friend Marty’s place. The dude had a killer “Great Room” with a huge projection TV and quadraphonic sound system. Just bring something to watch, your own beer, snacks and smoke and the night was set. We watched everything, but I could always be counted on for bringing some obscure Horror flick that nobody had heard of, many thanks to Fangoria magazine for the knowledge.
One of those nights I brought over Death Warmed Up. The reaction from my friends that night are still vivid, and for me, hilarious. They were shocked, grossed out and had no idea what was going on. After muliple recent viewings I’d tell those friends today (and you), it still shocks and is gorily gross. And you’re still not going to have any idea of just what the fuck is going on while watching it.
The movie opens with some brain surgery being performed, and we’re talking drilling through the skull first just to get to the brain! We meet our hero Michael, whose dad is a research scientist with a Dr. Archer Howell, the two doctors that are doing the brain surgery. Seems Howell wants all the credit for what the two doctors are working on, so he brainwashes Michael into blasting his parents to death with a shotgun, then Michael is thrown into the looey bin. This is in the first 10 minutes of the film. We flash forward 7 years. Michael, formely dark haired and now sporting a blonde Rutger Hauer look is getting released, and his girlfriend, best friend and his girl pick him up so they can go vacation to the island that Dr. Howell has set up as his research facility (yes Michael knows where he’s going, he’s out for revenge!). On the ferry to the island we meet “Spider” and his partner, two of the facility workers, who clash immediately with our vacationing friends.
It only gets more bat shit crazy from here, and it’s fantastic. Our friends go exploring and discover a massive tunnel system under the island linked to Dr Howell’s facility patrolled by Spider and coworkers on their motorbikes. Howell’s patient’s brains start exploding, gun battles, squirting bloody violence, more brain surgery with wet walnut looking tumors discovered, mutants released from the bowels of the island to run amok destroying everything in their path, and an act of revenge that is not the best course of action.
I’m hoping this is enough to convince you to watch this film for the first time or the 100th. Remember Spider’s words
Thanks for having me in the Mill Creek Pure Terror series at bandsaboutmovies.com.
Severin has a loaded blu of this movie also.