The Black Box Files: Aerobicide
The Next Hilarious Installment of Richard Karpala’s Series on Gloriously Bad Movies
In any major airline disaster a black box is recovered to determine how the crash occurred. Typically it is never found to be one cause, but rather a cascade of events. This is also how shitty movies are made. It is usually never one thing, but a series of events that culminate in an unwatchable cinematic disaster.
Today we’re recovering information from Aerobicide, also titled Killer Workout, a horror slasher from 1987 written and directed by David A. Prior.
Most bad movies have a “terminal point”, that moment in which no hope can be further salvaged. Let’s examine the timeline for Aerobicide from its beginning to its terminal point.
00:00 – 01:29
Opening credits. Nothing out of the ordinary, except I think I hear the theme to Halloween.
The first 80′s song in the movie has the lyrics, “The hunger I feel just won’t be denied.” This is notable because as we hear it, we’re watching a woman look for something to eat in her fridge.
After a cursory glance through the fridge’s contents (I know it’s just a movie but I still feel a little creepy doing this) I’m not sure you’re supposed to refrigerate Cream of Wheat. Just as an FYI for the character — farina, which is what Cream of What is made of, has not been proven to lower cholesterol like oats, which can be found in oatmeal.
If you think about it, tanning studios should only be open at night.
I appreciate that this tanning bed resembles an open casket.
At least the filmmaker isn’t just setting out to make another slasher movie. He’s trying to get us to think about our obsession with beauty, and how it might negatively impact us. And he’s going to do it by showing this naked chick climb into the tanning bed and fry to death.
We see gratuitous shots of the woman lying naked in the bed. Nice, long, lingering shots of her body indicate that so far, the director knows exactly what he’s doing.
Nobody should even THINK about helping her now. The temperature knobs have just caught on fire.
I’m seeing explosions inside of the tanning booth. It doesn’t take a braniac to figure out you never put plastic in the microwave!
An establishing shot of someone going to Rhonda’s WorkOut. Finally, something related to what I initially believed the movie was going to be about.
There is another fun, catchy 80′s song in the background about eating food. The lyrics in this one say, “I can see the hunger in you”. I read that on multiple levels. The women have a hunger for looking fit. But also, they’re probably starving, and since they’re starving, they’re self-cannibalizing. It’s sadistic but very appropriate for this film.
It’s an ugly cycle. If she wasn’t so pretty, she wouldn’t be doing so much screwing around, and if she wasn’t screwing around all the time, she wouldn’t be late to teach her aerobics class, and if she wasn’t late to class, she wouldn’t be in a hurry, and if she wasn’t in a hurry she never would have spilled her purse and allowed me to scrutinize her lifestyle choices.
How much more aerobics do we need to see? Just a little more.
Jimmy asks Rhonda out on a date. She rejects his advances. Well, there’s your murderer.
I get exclusive access to the women’s showers at Rhonda’s WorkOut and I don’t even have to pay for a monthly membership.
Even when I study this frame, determining the killer’s murder weapon is still difficult.
Is that part of a door hinge? Maybe it’s a compass for drawing circles.
This is why Hitchcock chose a knife in Psycho. It’s an everyday tool people can recognize when they see it being perversely adopted as an instrument of death in a hot shower. Start getting too cute with your choice of weapon, and you may lose your audience.
I’ll criticize the movie for a lot of things but one thing I won’t criticize is its use of a well placed red gel.
Lighting gurus take note here: if you ever want to shoot a slasher scene in a woman’s shower, you could do much worse than this artful touch of red spilled across the shower doors like the blood of a sacrificial lamb.
In case anybody was wondering, no, there is no such thing as “incorrect” gratuitous nudity.
And that, kind readers, is the termination point.
A Final Note:
Aerobicide wisely moved the slasher away from the woods and into the tanning salon and the fitness studio. As filmmakers during the 80′s continued to explore new ways of killing women in increasingly chauvinistic, and in partially or fully nude fashion, it seemed inevitable to use a setting where the female form could be displayed in its purest state. That is why this film, although unquestionably awful by any measurable standard, has rightfully earned its place in the cult cannon.