Murdercise (2023) Review
Murdercise, the latest film from Paul Ragsdale and Angelica De Alba who previously gave us Streets of Vengeance and Slashlorette Party looks at an 80s fad that’s been surprisingly underutilized in retro films, the aerobic workout video craze.
For those unfamiliar with it, it involved several models in skin tight leotards or skimpy bathing suits bouncing around doing various fat burning and body toning moves with the viewer following along at home breaking a sweat and getting into shape. More commonly it was bought by desperately horny guys who couldn’t get their hands on Playboy videos and were sweating for an entirely different reason.
The film opens true to 80s form with a shower scene involving a woman who looks to be 100 pounds of silicone on a 90 pound frame. After hearing something odd she calls the police only to have two cops show up and murder her while she’s still on the phone. That alone would have had copies of Murdercise flying off the shelves at Blockbuster on a Friday night.
Pheobe (Kansas Bowling, The Third Saturday in October Part V, Psycho Ape!) is unhappy with the choreography for the video she’s been cast in. It seems it allows several other cast members to go about “showing their nether regions” to the camera. The poor girl thinks this is a serious exercise video, which gets her mocked by the rest of the cast which includes cover girl Candy (Jessica Flux, Satan Lives: The Rise of the Illuminati Hotties, The Embalmers) and Cassandra (Krystal Shay, Topless Models Bound for Domination, The Longest Run).
Enter Dominica Stromboli (Ginger Lynn, House of Many Sorrows, Saw: A Hardcore Parody) whose husband Frankie (Josh Parks, Wolf Hollow, Up on the Housetop) is financing the project. It seems their daughter Isabella (Nina Lanee Kent, Nite Time Creatures, Slashlorette Party) needs something to keep her out of trouble, like a role in the video.
De Alba and Ragsdale give the viewer a setup that lends itself to an exploitation film. Scantily clad potential victims, mobsters, infighting and backstabbing among the video’s cast, etc. They’re not afraid to capitalize on it either, with plenty of gratuitous nudity to keep the viewer watching until Pheobe snaps and puts the murder in Murdercise. That’s not a spoiler BTW, we see it when it happens. The only mystery in the film revolves around the fake cops we see in the opener.
One of the things that sets Murdercise apart from many microbudget thrillers is the characters. Even those who are barely in it, like female wrestler Monique (Victoria Dementieva, Streets of Vengeance) get a few good lines and a fun death scene. In her case, appropriately for a pro wrestler, she’s killed with a steel chair. And she’s just one of several fun supporting characters including Gino (Bryan Hurd, Justified Force, Kings of the Atlantic) the sleazy producer and Chuck, played by Drew Marvick (Teddy Told Me To, Another WolfCop) who may have the hardest scene to play, convincing us that he doesn’t want to see Candy’s breasts.
The cast are all into their roles, getting into them and giving 100% whether bitching at each other or taking a chainsaw to someone’s head. Ginger Lynn even gets her shirt off for old time’s sake and looks damn good doing it, especially for a sixty year old woman. That’s actually something that’s been consistent in all of De Alba and Ragsdale’s films, they know how to get their performers motivated and into their scenes despite the films not being huge paydays for anyone.
The effects are the icing on Murdercise’s cake. They’re both practical and plentiful with stabbings, eye gougings and the previously mentioned chainsaw mayhem among the carnage on screen. They’re well done and bloody enough to be effective without going over the top which would have clashed with the tone of the film which is more Fear City than Pieces.
And like Fear City, while nominally a horror film set in the seedier side of showbiz, Murdercise follows the exploitation/grindhouse pattern more closely. So expect more blood and boobs than actual scares, as long as you’re aware of that, you should have a blast watching it.