Directed by David Blyth [Other horror films: The Horror Show (1989), Red Blooded American Girl (1990), Wound (2010)]
This New Zealand production is such a madcap movie. I don’t necessarily mean that it’s zany or even fun, but it does have a bit of a wild feel to it, and while it’s definitely not what I’d call a good movie, at least Death Warmed Up has flavor.
Luckily, the plot never feels too out there, as we have a good idea of what’s going on from the beginning. Things get a bit hectic toward the end, what with an outbreak of mutated people causing havoc, but the story never gets overly confusing or at any point nonsensical, which I can appreciate.
Also, while it’s hard to say that anyone really stands out as far as performances go in this movie, most of the central actors and actresses were at least decent. Michael Hurst had a pretty unique look to him, and his character was pretty tragic (that opening was just beautiful). Margaret Umbers, William Upjohn, and Norelle Scott all worked well as friends, and I bought their performances. Gary Day did great as the amoral scientist, and as a lesser antagonist, David Letch (who was also in Mr. Wrong, as was Umbers) was notably threatening.
The special effects and gore were never the biggest focus, but there were plenty of mutated patients (though they were never really in focus, so the extent to their mutations weren’t that clear), some gory skull removal during some operations, a few slit throats here and there, aftereffects of a massacre. None of it was great or really memorable, but at least it was there, and more so, at least it all seemed competently done.
One thing that amused me was the fact that some of the scene transitions used what I’d refer to as Powerpoint slideshow transitions – it didn’t take away from the movie or anything, but it just looked sort of funny, and I can’t think of many movies that use transitions quite like this one did.
The opening, as I alluded to earlier, was pretty solid. You have a guy using a shotgun against two people, and the results looked quite gory. Not that the movie dragged later on or anything, but I think the beginning to Death Warmed Up did a good job at making us, as the audience, wonder what’s coming next, because for this movie, it’s not always that easy to tell.
I find the movie amusing, though there wasn’t much in the way of humor actually in the film proper. It just seemed all over the place, and though there was a coherent story, Death Warmed Up just felt weird. I’ve seen this once before (I own it on the Pure Terror 50-movie pack from Mill Creek Entertainment), and the only scene that I remembered vaguely (as it’s been at least ten years since I’ve seen the movie before this rewatch) was the chase in the tunnels, which was a bit dark as far as lighting was concerned, but moderately suspenseful.
Truthfully, I don’t really like Death Warmed Up, but I can’t find it in me to really dislike it. I do think the movie is a bit below average, but at the same time, this is one that I could easily see myself diving into again in the future, if just due to how odd some of it is. If you’re into New Zealand-based horror, give it a look. You could certainly do worse than this.