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WEIRDO FLICKS: 'Death Warmed Up' (aka 'Death Warmed Over')

by Eli Kroes

You might not be familiar with the term 'Z-Movie,' but if you grew up in the 90's, chances are you've seen one. They're the beyond-low-budget monstrosities that teased you from the walls of the mom-and-pop video store. Usually, the films themselves could never live up to the pictures on the videotape boxes (because this was way before your fancy 'Digital Video Discs' and 'Blu-Rays') but occasionally you'd find something truly unique. 'WEIRDO FLICKS' will clue you into some movies which 'unique' doesn't even begin to describe... 

'Death Warmed Up' (aka 'Death Warmed Over') - 1984, Directed by David Blyth

Let's get the trivia out of the way. This is supposedly the first horror film to be released out of New Zealand. Cult cinema fans are no doubt familiar with Peter Jackson (yes, the 'Lord of the Rings' guy) whose grossout 'Bad Taste' and 'Dead Alive' films introduced him to America, but this one beat those by a couple years. It goes without saying that the Kiwis are an unusual bunch.

The film opens on a young man, Michael, running through a hospital. He seems urgently searching for someone but he's actually not. He does, however, stumble across his father, a doctor. His dad's okay, but he doesn't pay much attention to his son. He's busy winning some scientist award or something. Another doctor, however, does pay attention to Michael. He's an evil 'genius' who wants credit for the award Michael's father is being given, so he hypnotizes Michael with some weird serum and instructs him to kill his parents, which he does.

None of this is explicitly stated, however. The viewer is hit with a barrage of dreamlike sequences that kind of lay this out, but might indicate something else altogether. It's really not clear. Then, Michael inevitably ends up in the psych ward, where he spends a few years. 

Flash forward to present day, and Michael is taking a vacation with some of his semi-punk friends. Well, that's what they think. He's actually going to a remote island to get revenge on the evil doctor who made him kill his folks. It seems like he should've told his friends this because they instantly encounter some biker zombies (!) created by said doctor and things get weird. 

The rest of the film completely ignores the original revenge plot, and features everyone trying to survive the wrath of the biker zombies. It's a little bloody, but mostly just leaves you feeling weird and confused. The movie is also very serious for all the campy things that happen. This is surely not like any horror flick you've ever seen, and legitimately feels like it was made by a mentally unstable person. Basically, it rules.

4.75333333333333333333 out of 5 or something.

VHS photo by Toby Hudson.