Death Warmed Up (1984) Poster

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Nutzoid new-wave Kiwi horror.
BA_Harrison14 May 2016
Seven years after gunning down his parents, Michael Tucker (Michael Hurst) is released from his padded cell and goes looking for revenge on the man responsible for turning him into a killer: deranged scientist Dr. Archer Howell (Gary Day), who now runs an island-bound institution where he operates on the inmates, turning them into crazed zombies.

I remember thinking that New Zealand horror Death Warmed Up was a pretty weird film way back when it was first released on VHS, with its all-over-the-place plot, oddball characters and gaudy, '80s 'plastic and neon' aesthetic; thirty years later, and the film's new-wave punk style and aimless story-line seem even more bizarre. There's a little fun to be had with the gore—an exploding head, some bloody squibs, random brain surgery, an impalement etc.—and we also get some gratuitous nudity and sex, but on the whole, this is way too shambolic to be considered anything but a failure.

Interestingly, Death Warmed Up was made three years before Peter Jackson's classic debut, splatter-fest Bad Taste, making me think that the Lord of the Rings director saw this back in the day and thought to himself, 'I can do better than that!'. And you know what? He could!

3.5/10, generously rounded up to 4 for Ranji Gandhi (Jonathan Hardy), the Indian character who looked and sounded like something out of '70s TV series Mind Your Language.
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"Spider" comments on DWU
letchdave18 November 2009
I was told about this site from a friend. I'm the guy who played SPIDER. As someone commented, no eyebrows. We did it way back when we were all in our twenties. It was a great amount of fun to do. The creative team came from both film and theatre industry. I'd just finished a pirate movie with Tommy Lee Jones, Michael O'Keefe and Jenny Seagrove and a lot of theatre. Michael (Hurst) was also a fellow theatre actor and we went on after this to do a couple of stage plays together. As was also noted, Michael went on to do 'Hercules'. At the time, Fangoria was the genre magazine of choice, and, with David (Blyth) and Murray (Newey - RIP) and the script by Michael Heath, with the 80's sex chic of the nurses, designed by Micahel Glock, we hit Auckland with all the energy that a 4 week shoot can muster. It's amazing to read comments from watchers/viewers some, what? 25 years later! Don't get too analytical....we just went for the jugular and hoped that somewhere along the line it'd all make sense! Along the way we shot stuff in a deserted and rather creepy abattoir, the tunnels on the island off Auckland city, and got right into ridged knives with back splatter.
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They must have some really mind-blowing mushrooms in New Zealand
Coventry15 March 2008
Personally I'm convinced "Death Warmed Up" was completed by a clique of people suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (the infamous A.D.D. syndrome)… Either that or a bunch of mushroom-addicted guys with a permanent overdose of acid in their blood. How else would you clarify the film's total lack of narrative structure, the exaggeratedly high amount of nonsensical plot-twists, the overzealous editing, the demented characters and the copious number of grotesquely over-the-top grossness? "Death Warmed Up" is a wildly incoherent and thoroughly bizarre horror effort from New Zealand – reputedly the country's first full-blooded genre outing – that more or less describes itself as a demented and very loose interpretation of the legendary "Island of Dr. Moreau" tale. But then again, Dr. Moreau at least had a clear mission he wanted to achieve whereas Dr. Archer Howell, the lunatic scientist in this film, seemingly just surrounds himself with a large collection of genetically altered freaks for his own personal amusement. Throughout the entire film, his motivations for performing medical experiments on random island people remain unexplained. He has freaky half-man and half-monster guinea pigs working for him, creepy guys without eyebrows running loose and an entire army of deformed abnormalities locked away in a basement. The predominant storyline, however, revolves on one of Dr. Howell's very first victims seeking vengeance for the agony he cost. As a teenager, Michael got brainwashed and shotgun-massacred his own parents under the malignant influence of Dr. Howell. He spent the following seven years in a mental institution, but now Michael's back (with a new and Blade Runner type of hairdo) and unstoppably furious. Along with his girl and a befriended couple, Michael ferries to Dr. Howell's island resort, but they'll have to face his creations first before they can get to him. "Death Warmed Up" is, well, shall I say … completely bonkers! The script makes very little sense (or even no sense at all) and leaps from one subject to another all the time. Michael & C° supposedly come for revenge, yet they start their trip by going to the beach and during several situations it's actually Michael's friend Lucas who proves to be the most courageous one of the bunch. There are plenty of odd homosexual undertones in the film, as well as some misplaced attempts at humor (the Indian store clerk) and a bizarre type of ambiance I can't possibly categorize. One thing "Death Warmed Up" does deliver plenty of, however, is gore and bloodshed! The aforementioned shotgun killings are supremely nasty, and they're just at the beginning of the film. Furthermore, there are repugnant brain surgeries, impalements and gooey zombie make-up effects aplenty. The zombie creatures are quite menacing, particularly the bloke without eyebrows (displayed on the cover-image) and the typical New Zealand accents and slang are a joy to listen to. The acting performances are below average and insignificant, still devoted horror fans should keep an eye open for a brief appearance by Ian Watkin (awesome, arse-kicking uncle Les from "Braindead") as Bill the ferryman. "Death Warmed Up" is far too unbalanced to be considered as a worthwhile horror outing, but it's still a fun and gore-soaked excuse to spend 85 minutes of your time.
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Australian slasher punk rock mayhem
BandSAboutMovies10 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
New Zealand was ready to represent when it came to the slasher boom, thanks to this bonkers entry into the canon. It's so violent that it was banned in Australia, a country that was originally made up of convicts.

Director David Blyth's film predates Peter Jackson's Bad Taste, seem as perhaps the first homegrown Kiwi horror film. Blyth has been called "New Zealand's master of transgression" by Fangoria and "one of the great mavericks of New Zealand film" by NZ Listener. He also created the movies Angel Mine, Wound, Transfigured Nights and Moonrise, which is also known as Grampire and stars "Grandpa" Al Lewis.

Years ago, Dr. Howell - a mad scientist trying to prolong human life past death - dealt with his harshest critic by mind-controlling that man's son into shotgun blasting his parents.

Now, Michael Tucker (Michael Hurst, Iolaus from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) has emerged from seven years in a mental ward. He somehow has acquired a loving girlfriend named Sandy and has taken her on a holiday along with their friends Jeannie and Lucas. However, that sojourn is really a front to get him to the remote island where Dr. Howell's clinic is located and gain bloody revenge.

What follows is a descent into the caves of the island, where the doctor's horrible creations live. That's when the film turns into a strange mix of The Hills Have Eyes and Mad Max packed with an equal mix of nihilism and gore.

I really have no category that easily fits this film. It's kind of a slasher. It's somewhat a punk rock biker post-apocalyptic film. And it's also science fiction. It's a glorious mess, all over the place and unafraid to have its hero completely fall apart by the end.
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Death Warmed Up
Scarecrow-8824 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Maddening variation on the zombie theme, from New Zealand, about "experimental mistakes"(..which evolve from humans into grotesque walking fiends which cause mindless violence), thanks in part to a deranged scientist's insane attempts to create a method for eternal life.

Gary Day is Dr. Archer Howell, a determined, and just plain nuts, scientist who will stop at nothing to see his experiments become a success. He uses Michael Tucker(Michael Hurst)to kill his father, Howell's partner who threatened to expose his sick, dangerous experiments. Michael is injected in the butt while showering from behind by Howell, and forced against his will(..through a form of mind control, I gather, since Howell's expertise were in the brain and it's functions)to blow his parents away with a shot gun. Thrown into an asylum, the years Michael spent locked away Howell had moved to his own island to continue his experiments in relative peace..once a tourist destination, Howell's presence has caused the island to stagnate in popularity. Meanwhile, Michael prepares for revenge, with girlfriend Sandy(Margaret Umbers)and pals Lucas & Jeannie(William Upjohn & Norelle Scott)tagging along with him to Howell's island. What Michael and his gang were unprepared for was a duo of Howell's former patients, Spider(David Letch)and his very ill partner whose condition isn't responding well to heat. Spider plans to get Michael back for a scuffle they have on board the ferry. Spider becomes an even more intimidating antagonist that Howell, reacting negatively when the scientist rejects his plea to save his friend, seeking revenge after being considered obsolete, due for extermination, letting those locked away free. This, in turn, sets off a chain of events threatening life on the island. Even worse is that Howell seems to realize that those he had performed experiments on before will mutate into homicidal creatures causing potential global catastrophe!

The movie is nutty as a fruitcake. The film has some wild camera-work to complement it's really bizarre story-line. Replete with violence and ugly characters, often shot in darkened buildings with the director effectively using small lights to not completely establish what the human monsters look like. David Letch as Spider, a real wacko, will probably walk away the most memorable face of the film, he's the reason everything falls apart(..along with Howell, that is)to begin with, unleashing a threat to the human race. Day, as Howell, is never seen as sane, walking around with a cane, his face carrying a look of crazed dedication to his own work, not caring the least little bit the consequences of his actions. Hurst, as Michael, never appears completely well;even in his scenes with Sandy early on, you can see he's not operating at full capacity. After entering the hospital and meeting his enemy once again, Michael goes over the edge, unstable, realizing that Howell has polluted the population with his "scientific breakthrough". I was never quite sure of Howell's motives regarding his experiments, and how he could succeed in actually continuing his work when it's obvious he's a lunatic.

DEATH WARMED UP features Howell's handiwork, cutting into the skull's of human guinea pigs, blood squirting on his nurses faces, seeing the harmful side-effects of his experiments. We also see humans, who were experimented on, their foreheads bulging, vomiting puss/mucus, noticing how Howell's work has caused severe abnormalities, the body rejecting the wrongful tampering of the brain. The slaughter of the parents with a shotgun by Michael's hand, is rather shocking. Like in past movies featuring experiments-gone-awry, DEATH WARMED UP shows the chaos that ensues when a scientist attempts to tamper with life's cycle.
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"Something bloody weird going on, mate."
zeppo-224 October 2006
So says one of the characters in this odd little number from New Zealand. It took me a little while to realise that the leading man was played by the same Michael Hurst, who is better known for playing Iolaus in the long running Hercules TV series.

There seem to be a myriad of other films that this one has either borrowed from of been influenced by. Mad Max, Night (and Dawn)of the living Dead, Island of Dr Moreau or any other mad scientist movie. The actual story structure is somewhat disjointed, as we never really find out why the mad doctor wants to transform ordinary men into 'demented mutated killing machines.' Is there a world wide shortage of demented mutated killing machines? I don't think so if the news is anything to go by.

It does make sense that he does programme our hero to kill his parents who are standing in the way of his experiments but why let him live afterwards to come back for revenge? The whole island laboratory to do his crazed work on is straight out of 'Dr. No.' But with less sense or reason.

Not totally explained why the hero turns up on holiday with his friends after been released from the insane asylum, just happens to be the same island where his nemesis resides.

But enough of sense and logic, the actual film is decent watching and holds the interest till the end and at around 75 minutes on the DVD I saw, it doesn't outstay it's welcome. Plenty of gore scenes for those who like that stuff, maybe the villain just liked doing brain work as his motive for it all.

The ending is rather pointless as my fellow reviewer pointed out and it does seem they just ran out of ideas and decided to go out on a supposed shock ending.

Just two last points to make, there was a Pakistani shopkeeper who was a very bad racial stereotype and there for 'comicial' effect. Not sure if it wasn't a white actor blacked up either, it was that unpleasant.

Also at the beginning when he is supposed to be younger and running around in short trousers, he just looks ridiculous. I know Michael Hurst isn't the tallest bloke around but he just looks like an overgrown schoolboy or the lead singer in AC/DC. And there are gay overtones when he is in the shower afterwards as well but that plot line is just left hanging.

Overall, a strange but otherwise interesting film.
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pre Peter Jackson splatter
trashgang11 April 2011
This one was made 3 years before Peter Jackson's Bad Taste and was the first horror coming out of kiwi-land New Zealand. So for the real collectors it's a must have and for somehow it wasn't that easy to find a copy of it. There are a lot of bad copies to find and even mine was a bad copy even as it was a DVD release. Is it worth searching, well, there's splatter in it but overall it bored me a lot and I had the skip button ready in my hand. If you see what Peter Jackson did 3 years later that is unforgettable but here the storyline is really stupid, it's all about the gore but again, made in 1984 it could have done much better. There's a bit of nudity in it but don't mentionable. If you are a hunter for splatters than you must have it in your collection or for being the first kiwi-horror. Don't expect some kind of eighties German splatter or Jackson splatter, just watch it and forget it.
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Wildly entertaining New Zealand horror splatter schlock
Woodyanders27 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Mad scientist Dr. Arther Howell (a nicely nasty turn by Gary Day) experiments with brain procedures on human test subjects in his hospital on a remote island and creates a bunch of murderous zombies in the process. Meanwhile, vengeful young Michael Tucker (a likable performance by Michael Hurst), who was hypnotized by Howell to kill his parents seven years ago, gets released from an asylum and tracks Howell down in order to exact revenge. Director/co-writer David Blyth crafts a deliriously bonkers story that doesn't make much sense, but does zip along at a constant brisk pace, generates a good deal of tension and vitality, and delivers oodles of graphic gore along with a smidgen of tasty gratuitous female nudity and a dab of sizzling soft-core sex for good measure. Moreover, Blyth's flashy hopped-up style, the throbbing synthesizer score by Mark Nicholas, and James Bartle's glossy and dynamic cinematography give this picture an extra galvanizing buzz, with a bravura chase sequence in a tunnel rating as a definite exciting highlight. The acting is passable: Day and Hurst do solid work in the lead roles, with game support from Margaret Umbers as Michael's sweet girlfriend Sandy, William Upjohn as Michael's loyal buddy Lucas, Norelle Scott as the fetching Jeannie, David Letch as the crazed Spider, and Bruno Lawrence as ill-fated patient Tex. Good trashy fun.
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Blood-splattering and Head-exploding Zombies!
wes-connors7 July 2009
"A deranged scientist is on a remote island working on his experimental brain procedures on human test subjects. Unfortunately, many of the patients suffer side effects from the procedure that transforms them into murderous zombies. Arriving on the island is a group of youths that include the son of the scientist's chief rival. Years before, the mad doctor had hypnotized the youth and had him murder his own father, so the young man has come to track down the scientist and make him pay," according to the DVD sleeve's synopsis...

If he'd only added some exposition, director David Blyth might have had something with "Death Warmed Over". It has style and promise - like in, for example, the scene where Michael Hurst (as Michael Tucker) and his friends are pursued by a couple of motorcyclists in the underground Australian tunnels. The story is way too distant, though. Villainous doctor Gary Day (as Archer Howell) and the arousable young Hurst seem to have had some past sexual relationship ("You're all sweaty, let's get you cleaned up"). Perhaps, since he strokes his walking stick while watching kids at play, the mad doctor started early with Hurst?

***** Death Warmed Over (11/84) David Blyth ~ Michael Hurst, Margaret Umbers, Gary Day
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Just Too Much!
Hitchcoc9 March 2007
These revenge, gore-fest movies are all a little the same. It starts with no real motivation for the initial actions. The mad scientist is just mad. Still, he seems to have plenty of money for his sick research. What is his product? A bunch of zombie characters. Do we really need some of these? Anyway, the hero(?) drags his pals into his effort to avenge his father and mother's murders (actually, he committed them under the doctor's influence). Then there's the agony and the pain that goes on and on and on. People are dismembered, stabbed, burned, one after the other. I don't get the attraction. Why do audiences want so much of this? In the end, we're left wondering about a lot of things. There are no real answers. Maybe it's just obsession. Who knows.
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This COULD have been a fine film, in better hands!
talisencrw15 April 2016
Ever go to one of those all-you-can-eat buffets that has virtually every kind of food imaginable, and you go in thinking it's going to be an excellent experience, a few of the foods you sample are fairly good, but you're left afterwards with a huge bellyache and the check? That's the way I felt after watching 'Death Warmed Up', from my now-infamous Mill Creek 50-film 'Nightmare Worlds' pack--it has a few interesting ideas, and some decent, though dated, atmosphere, but director Blyth doesn't know how to put it all together. In the right hands, this could have worked, but it definitely doesn't, and that's a shame, because it had potential...'it coulda been a contender!' The two young female leads that play Sandy and Jeannie are beautiful, there's good chemistry between them and the two male leads, particularly in the scene where they're on the ferry going to the island. The completely gratuitous nudity and softcore sex was a great bonus. In an interview that was a DVD extra for 'The Fog', Jamie Lee Curtis explained that she enjoyed starting out in horror and that it was a useful genre for an actor in that it gave one a wide range of possible behaviours to both utilize and show, and, by the end, Michael and Sandy proved to me they were good actors. It's just too bad they were in a nondescript, clunky script that had no idea what it was doing or where it was going. 'Death Warmed Up' is one of those films that doesn't have a climactic finale, or end, per se, it just simply stops or dies, as if the filmmakers simply had no ideas left and simply stopped when they ran out of film.

THIS is the type of film that should be remade, not the wildly successful and great film that has no need to have a different interpretation or chance at life, but the misfires or the should-have-beens--to show the world that these ideas had validity and meaning after all.
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With a bit more heating this film could have been really good
Aaron13754 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This film was featured in a collection of 50 horror films, that most likely are in the public domain. I had never heard or seen this one before, so it was the third film I viewed. As I watched it, I couldn't help think to myself that this film is almost good. It has a nice idea, the acting is not bad and the settings are good too. Unfortunately, the editing is utterly loathsome, the story has huge gaping holes in it and they did not seem to know quite how to end the film. The bad outweighs the good and thus my score of 4. It is almost a shame, because I did think they had something going, but the editor was most likely Edward Scissorhands and he went to town on the film. Someone frantically tried gluing it back together, but just was not up to the task.

The plot has a doctor who wishes to perform experiments to prolong life. A doctor opposes this idea, so the one doctor hypnotizes the son the doctor who is opposed and makes him kill not only his father, but also his mother. The son gets locked away and the doctor is now free to perform his bizarre experiments on an island. Years later, the son is let out of the mental institution and he and three friends go to the island so the son can exact his revenge upon the doctor. Strange people reside on this island as the friends encounter some strange people on the ferry going to it. Well, seems something is happening to those who have received the life prolonging procedure. Soon general mayhem ensues as the young man will stop at nothing to get to the doctor, though honestly the guy could have easily gotten to the doctor upon his arrival as he saw him going into a store.

The problems with this movie is that it is hard to figure out what is going on at times, whether it is a bunch of shots sloppily edited in the dark or huge chunks of logic missing from the story. I was completely baffled if the man looking for revenge had told his friends that he was going for revenge. The man's girlfriend seemed to know, but I was not sure about the other couple. They go into some tunnels, but I have no idea why. Once again, getting to the doctor did not seem to require them doing this. Just a bit to jumbled, then a final showdown seems to be brewing between the son and this villain named Spider, but instead of showing this, they cut away to the son and his girlfriend driving away.

The film almost had something, I enjoyed the idea behind the story. The film just lacked execution in certain areas. Not acting, the acting was pretty good for a low budget horror film. I really enjoyed the character named Spider, which is probably why I really did not enjoy that a final showdown was omitted. I was also kind of rooting for Spider at the end, because the son looking for revenge had done so much to put his friends into harm's way. Also, son and his friend kind of started the whole mess with Spider and his buddy anyway. So, while it was not a good horror film, it almost was.
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Just skip the nookie and get back to the story.
mark.waltz17 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
OK, there is romantic sex in movies, and there's perversion, and when mixed into a horror movie, it just lengthens what is most likely mediocre in the first place. This is the type of already questionable story where the murder of one's own parents by a young man (caused by a shot he got in the butt by his father's scientist partner, and ends up seeking revenge when he gets out of the looney bin. The young man is seen blowing his parents away, twisting and squirming in a straight jacket in a rubber room, then all of a sudden is out joyriding with his girlfriend and friends when he recognizes the man who got him into that jam in the first place.

So I don't expect the usual in a 1970's/80's science fiction/horror film, but I expect some cohesion and sense at least in the story telling. This is some nonsense about ending death as we know it and somehow bringing corpses back in some gory form or another. Real frights come from suspense, and understanding science fiction doesn't need to involve unnecessary gore or constant expulsion of bodily fluids. This had a basically decent idea that just went way too far, and ultimately I didn't give a darn about any of it. This seems like it was written by someone of the target age it was made for. Stupidity has never had such a vile and disgusting face.
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"We have got an emergency on here - a breakout of psycho cases!"
classicsoncall7 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Well it never ceases to amaze me how movie viewers get their kicks. There are a dozen reviews here already for "Death Warmed Up", and most are pretty thoughtful ones going into detail about the story and it's twisted characters. I learned a whole new bunch of terms here like 'Kiwi horror' and 'Jackson splatter', so I guess my time wasn't wasted in terms of rounding out my viewing experience. But the film - man, what a mess! The whole idea of trans-cranial applications (that would be brain transplants for the uninitiated) at the center of the story is just pretty much of an excuse to turn this thing into a zombie flick once it revs up into high gear. I won't go into detail because others have done a pretty good job of it already, but if exploding heads, brain surgery with a handy man's drill and claustrophobic motorcycle chases in a tunnel are your thing, this should be right up your alley. The best, and others have mentioned it, is the mad scientist Howell (Gary Day) conducting his experiments in an Eighties themed disco club. But why listen to me, there's a review on this board from one of the principals himself, David Letch the eyebrow challenged Spider guy. Just be warned, at the end of the flick you'll be asking yourself the same question as girlfriend Sandy - "Michael - Why?"
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Strange, but good....
WritnGuy-229 January 2000
I bought this on Amazon.Com, and watched it last night, not knowing at all what to expect. And I must say, I liked it.

Ten years ago, Michael was hypnotized by a very unstable doctor into killing his own parents. Then he is locked up in the mental institution for it. In the present (or the present time of the movie) Michael, his girlfriend Sandy, and their friends Lucas and Jeannie head to an island for a vacation, where the doctor has moved his work to, and has started a new experiment in reprogramming people's minds. And Michael wants revenge for what was done to him, planning to kill the doctor. But they still plan to have a fun vacation, too. (I told you the movie was strange.) Anyway, when they get there, they see how the doctor has taken over the island, and then get themselves involved in some risky business to find the doctor, which leads to chases, attacks, and some all-around good scares.

I wasn't sure I liked this movie, but now I think I did. Some of it was weird, and I didn't understand every aspect, but it was still exciting. The chase scene in the tunnels was great, as was the attack on the pub. The characters were all likable, and the acting was surprisingly good. Of course, there's no denying that this is a B-movie, but it's well done. Towards the end, it gets sort of weird, and actually sort of tense, because you don't know if Michael is crazy or what, because he is pushed to the edge in this movie. But luckily, he isn't the only one in the spotlight. Everyone seems to be a star. Sandy, his girlfriend, is a great character, even though she manages to really set in with the waterworks towards the end of the movie. I think she cries for five minutes straight.

The actual ending is odd, but really good. I didn't understand what the deal was with Michael at that point, but it was still pretty cool, and the slow-motion of Sandy running seemed to have a weird effect. Overally, a pretty good movie. I'd recommend it, but don't try to understand it all.
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Brainwashed army of the dead from New Zealand.
HumanoidOfFlesh30 July 2012
Teenage Michael Tucker is brainwashed by the evil Dr.Howell and after returning home he kills his mum and dad via shotgun.Michael is sent to a lunatic asylum and released after seven years.Along with three friends he returns to the remote island where Dr.Howell performs hideous brain surgeries on his patients."Death Warmed Up" by David Blyth is often regarded as the first splatter flick from New Zealand.It's pretty gory and gloomy horror flick with plenty of visceral chase scenes.The use of color lighting provides plenty of stylish atmosphere and the acting is fairly good.The gore effects are quite nasty and they include graphic impalements,brain drilling operations and exploding heads.I am fairly sure that young Peter Jackson was heavily influenced by "Death Warmed Up" whilst doing his splatter comedy "Bad Taste".8 splatter movies out of 10.
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Nurse, Pass Me The Brain-Drill...
azathothpwiggins16 June 2022
Warning: Spoilers
In DEATH WARMED UP, Michael Tucker (Michael Hurst) is given an experimental drug that causes him to murder his parents. He's then committed to a mental institution for several years. Upon his release, Michael takes a trip to a remote island with his girlfriend and another couple. It just happens to be the same island where he received the drug.

Out for vengeance against the doctors who destroyed his life, Michael and company find more than they bargained for, including twisted brain surgeries that have produced an army of crazed zombies.

This movie is a rather grim affair with a few humorous moments infused between exploding heads and impalements. It's not a masterpiece, but it is entertaining...
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kirbylee70-599-52617915 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
One of the joys of first VHS and now disc is that borders no longer mattered when it came to movies. Films that were regional hits shot in the backwoods of the US, martial arts movies made in China and movies from foreign countries not shown in the US were now available for anyone to have access to. In some cases that was good and in others it unleashed a flood of B to Z grade movies in the mom and pop video stores. One title that showed up on those shelves was DEATH WARMED UP. Now it's making its way to blu-ray with a great version from Severin.

Shot in New Zealand and released in 1984 the movie is a strange one. It opens with two scientists arguing about an experiment they've been working on. Watching them argue is Michael Tucker (Michael Hurst), the patient of one of the pair Dr. Howell (Gary Day) and son of the second. Howell has been treating Michael with a mind controlling drug which he uses to have him murder his parents. Michael is sent to a mental institution and Howell carries on.

Seven years later Michael and a group of friends are on a holiday to check out a remote island where Howell is now set up with his own institution. His friends include his girlfriend Sandy (Margaret Umbers), Jeannie (Norelle Scott) and her boyfriend Lucas (William Upjohn). On the ferry to the island Jeannie and Lucas have sex in the backseat of their car while two workers from Howell's institute watch from their truck. Spider (David Letch) is the apparent smart one of the pair, both of them looking and dressing like casts members of the latest ROAD WARRIOR film rather than hospital employees. Their watching begins to affect the more silent member of the two and his head begins fluctuating as he becomes ill. Caught watching it results in a fight between the two workers with Michael and Lucas and threats of revenge.

When they get to the island the foursome begin driving around. Only Jeannie knows the real reason for coming here. Michael wants revenge on Dr. Howell and to kill him. But his chances are reduced when Spider and his partner try to run them off the road. They escape but the deadly duo are not unscathed. Spider takes his friend to Howell for help who turns him down. This angers Spider who releases the prisoners Howell holds in his hospital, zombie like creatures oozing fluids and seeking destruction.

While this is taking place Michael and crew have explored secret tunnels he was told would lead him to Howell's hospital. Naturally the group is separated, bodies are found and Michael is captured by Howell. Not all of them will make it out alive as they find themselves surrounded by the various creatures for Howell's labs.

The movie is crazy in every way imaginable. Plot lines sometimes don't make sense but yet it works from start to finish. One has to wonder if everyone in New Zealand and Australia had some fashion scene going on in the 80s that required them to dress like post-Apocalyptic world denizens. The gore factor on the film may not equal that of many movies made since but the amount of blood, guts and gooey bodily fluids on display here will satisfy the most bloodthirsty gore hound.

Fans of the old mom and pop stores might even recall the box art they saw when the film was released back then. The number of movies that were made or played straight to video at the time are becoming a genre unto themselves and companies like Severin are making those movies available for the nostalgic.

Speaking of Severin this version of the film is a class act with a nice restoration on blu-ray. In addition to that they've included some extras that fans of the film will love viewing. These include the original New Zealand 4x3 VHS cut of the film, an audio commentary track by director David Blyth and writer Michael Heath, "I'll Get You All" an interview with actor Letch, deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by Blyth and Heath, an interview featurette with Blyth and Heath, the theatrical trailer, the VHS trailer and a TV spot.

Horror fans will be happy with the end result here and potentially flock to the film. Some will catch it for the first time. On the whole it was interesting to watch and brought back fond video store memories.
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Bizarre and banal in equal measure
Red-Barracuda16 November 2010
This Kiwi sci-fi/horror film mixes the bizarre and the banal in equal measure. It's about a mad scientist who conducts a form of brain surgery to create zombie-like killing machines. The plot-line is not exactly the movie's strong-point, as it's so unfocused and you're never all that sure about character motivations. I wouldn't really say that it's well directed or acted and overall there is an unmistakable feeling of the lackadaisical about everything. This lack of urgency or direction makes Death Warmed Up a somewhat hard movie to really get behind. On top of that, a lot of scenes seem to have near enough been shot in the dark, which doesn't exactly help matters.

On a more positive note it throws in a fair few schlocky gore scenes. And there are a number of moments that can best be described as 'eighties cheese' – like another reviewer said, the mad scientist's hospital resembles an 80's night club. Having said all of that, it does seem to take itself quite seriously, and the only bit of comedy relief I can remember was the Indian shopkeeper – he was a character that would not have looked out of place in an early 70's British sitcom he is so racially stereotypical.

I can't wholeheartedly recommend this film to be perfectly honest, as it just lacked a bit of punch. Having said that at least it isn't too derivative and it does have its moments.
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A Weird Film
Rainey-Dawn16 January 2016
This film is really hard to describe, it's what the summary says it is but it's more bizarre than what the summary reads.

The film is about a guy, Michael Tucker, that is hypnotized by his doctor to kill his parents - that's exactly what Michael did. After the death of his parents Michael ends up in a mental institution for 7 years then released. After his release he tracks down the doctor for revenge. -- But the film is more bizarre than it sounds.

The movie isn't great but it's not downright awful - it's watchable. Yes this one has quite a bit of gore/blood so you are forewarned.

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You won't warm to this one
videorama-759-85939120 April 2017
I'm gonna keep this short and sweet. You really wonder, what could of gone wrong with this dull, though trying film, like if, you had a perfect recipe, and your meal came out different. I mentioned

trying just then, but this one also tries your patience. I just found this one repugnant or repugnantly dull. Just check out it's covers, the CBS Fox one I had. Though I know repugnantly isn't a word, but cut me a break, which you'll be saying while watching this. Poor sorry soul, Hurst who was brainwashed into killing his parents, by evil controller/scientist, Day (the best thing about this film, besides sexy Umbers- I can still see that white low cut top, with an arm hung around boyfriend, Hurst) and ending up in a looney ward, vows revenge, returning to the scene of the crime to take down Day. This film won't make your day. What, am I being too harsh or picking on this film too much? This just doesn't work. It's just a bland, repellent, boring, and trying view. Don't worry, a couple of other films in the years to follow, had the same effect on me, but I won't movie drop. You do kind of get caught up in Hurst's tortured self, and you do feel empathy for the lad. The acting from the youngsters, is average, nothing to write home about, like the movie. It kinds of reminds you, of something Peter Jackson would do, this one being made a few years before his pics. Though only seeing the trailer, for that movie, The Ugly, also made in Kiwi land, 12 years, later I kind of relate it to The Ugly, much better movie fare of course. Also titled Death Warmed Over. But really, who gives a s..t. A 'Death movie has never been so cruel. This one is just terrible. So that's it, for DWU. Sorry.
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Gore Mongrals Movie Review: Death Warmed Up
ChiefGoreMongral28 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Guess what folks I'm back again I'm really in that reviewing mood here lately. Today I only have one movie, its a little flick from the 80's called "Death Warmed Up", since Death is always best that way have you ever tried it cold...that stuff sucks. Anyway lets take a look at this little New Zealand horror romp.

The movie starts us off with a teenager going to see his father at a research center/hospital. He sees his father arguing with another man who has created a way to prolong lives. His father is against it saying that the experiments have not been full proof as some of the lab experiments have had side effects. The other scientist gets irate and begins to tell him that he will not ruin his dream. His son runs away from the room only to be caught by the doctor who advises the boy to take a shower. A very gay sequence ensues involving the doctor walking in on the boy staring at him for awhile and then sticking his bum with a needle that has some of his secret recipe in it.

We next see the boy with a shotgun in tow blasting his mother and father to death in their bedroom after a love session. The boy is institutionalized and apparently messed with during that time by the Doctor. 7 years pass and the doctor has been approved to do his experiments on a small island town where we see him drilling through some heads and putting a machine over them that apparently creates the mutation in their genes. They then flash forward to what they call "Now" which we know it is not now as the fashion sense screams 80's pastel easter colors. The young man has grown up and wants revenge so he is off to the island with 2 friends that do not suspect his revenge motive and the girlfriend who knows but does not tell anyone.

From here the movie begins to show some of the experimentees(is that a word) as one in particular tries to do in our foursome with his buddy in their bright yellow truck of doom. When that does not work they try motorcycles and that does not entirely work either...these guys are the Coyote to the foursomes Road Runner. Eventually they get inside the facility as all hell is breaking loose. You see some of the experimental patients have been locked away from everyone else as they have went loco which leads to a finale that looks like it was left open for a sequel that never happened.

So what did I think of it....uhh not much to write home about. It has some OK gore scenes here and there (exploding head, surgery sequences, etc) and the story would have been OK with alittle more fleshing out and more of a budget wouldn't have hurt either but there is some things that this movie just does not do right and it makes it fall to an unsatisfactory level. For one the movie tends to get boring, in the beginning even though the acting wasn't the best they had me but as the movie progresses it tends to become a labor of love as some of the sequences were just not good enough payoffs for me compared to the lulls in the middle act that really hurt this film.

As I watched this movie I couldn't help but see some slight comparisons to Island of Dr Moreau and Night of the Living Dead but that side of it never surfaces either or completely. The Doctor's character though we know is suppose to be mad is never fully fleshed out as much as they could have as again a lot of the middle act meanders around with the main character (played by Michael Hurst) and his friends running from madmen and getting captured for a brief moment. The finale really is lackluster also and really brought the movie down as well, it just seemed like they ran out of idea and ofted one of the main characters in a rather stupid way just to do it or because they had no more money to use I guess.

Really the movie isn't utterly bad its just not good either. I liked how some of the characters died but there was just not enough of it. All in all if you do not have nothing else better to watch you could do worse but there is also a lot better stuff you could be watching as well. With some OK gore and some weird 80's style I can only merit the lackluster score of: 4/10: Below Average, If you want to see a New Zealand Horror film see Dead Alive or Bad Taste (I know I know they are splatter comedies whatever) otherwise despite the cool VHS box cover (you know the one with the skeleton with a doctors mask on with the bloody words Death Warmed Up over top it) there really isn't too much cool about it.

Sidenote: check out the boat captain in the movie its none other than Ian Watkin aka Uncle Les from Dead Alive (aka Braindead) Death Warmed up has not received a Region 1 release however if you own a region and format free player there is a PAL release by Arrow (that looks like it was taken directly from a VHS transfer) that is out. So until next time if you see someone yelling it hurts and they have a giant pulsating goose egg on the side of there head please stand back 50 feet and do not try to help them unless you want to get brain all on yah!!! I'm Out!!
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"Where are you taking us?" "I'm taking you to Hell, boy!"
Stevieboy66617 September 2022
Back in the 1980's and 90's we film fans had clunky VHS and Beta tapes for our home viewing, no slim and shiny discs. The British VHS release of Death Warmed Up came with some very inviting sleeve artwork, in fact I still have this, in addition to a low grade DVD, but it was another case of the movie itself not living up to its wonderful cover. Sadly the UK release is also cut, however it still packs in plenty of gore and violence, plus a bit of sex and nudity. The movie is a melting pot of mad scientist (much in the vein of Dr Moreau, performing hideous experiments on living people), science fiction, horror, splatter, comedy, punk and features mutants who could have wandered off a Mad Max set. Gore highlights include graphic brain surgery. Made in that excellent decade of horror there is a lot of blue and red lighting, combined with the almost obligatory smoke machine and synthesizer score. Its low budget does show at times, an exploding head looks cheap and the microphone boom makes a couple of appearances. Revisiting this Kiwi movie brought back happy memories of the days of VHS and practical special effects, it's no classic but does provide a fair bit of splattery entertainment.
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Well, That Was Just...Awful
TheExpatriate70017 January 2010
This New Zealand-made movie focuses on a mad scientist who is performing experiments on mental patients in an effort to defeat death. Unfortunately, his efforts spawn a dangerous collective of Mad Max extras, and even worse, he tends to plaster his island compound with gigantic photos of himself, a la Big Brother from 1984.

The plot gets moving when a young man with a decade old grudge against the scientist shows up on the island to get revenge, for some reason bringing his young adult friends with him. What follows just goes to show that revenge and vacations just don't mix.

This film is bad in so many ways that it is almost impossible to list them here. The dialogue is laughable, with the best line being "I'll get you-I'll get you all," which is repeated at least five times by the head Mad Max escapee. Furthermore, the mad scientist's headquarters looks like an ultra trendy 1980s night club, with punked out nurses to match. The film tries, lamely, to adopt a punk sensibility, with main titles and transitions that look like they were designed by the artist of a Sex Pistols album cover.

On the plus side, the film's gore and overall approach foreshadow the early work that Australian director Peter Jackson would put out several years later. However, it's not really worth wasting your money on when you can just rent the real thing.
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Entertaining by spurts (of entrails)
Groverdox2 November 2020
"Death Warmed Up" is one of those movies that could either be utterly inept garbage, or some kind of surrealist masterpiece. I mean, it's clearly the first one, but you can't help but appreciate in on that other level, the one undoubtedly unintended by the producers, who probably just wanted to draw an audience with some gore, and tacked the rest of the movie together on the run.

From what I could gather, the movie is about a kid who is brainwashed into killing his parents by an evil doctor and goes to an insane asylum. When he is released from the asylum, somehow he is able to instantly recruit a few friends and takes them to an island where he intends to kill the doctor, but the friends seem to think they're just going for a holiday.

The mad doctor has some henchmen, who are sort of like zombies, so I guess that's where the title came from. It also has some surprisingly violent scenes, which stick out because you can tell they were the most expensive scenes to film. Footage is replayed a few times of a disgusting brain surgery operation, where the exposed brain pulses like a heart, and in the climax of this sequence, fingers reach into the brain matter and pull out a round, grey thing.

I'm not that surprised it was banned here, as that sequence is like something out of a Fulci or Franco movie.

I enjoyed "Death Warmed Up" despite, or perhaps because of, its ineptitude of creation, the fact that it never finds a cohesive tone and is frequently confusing and not very well shot. It's still entertaining, all over the place like the character whose head explodes.
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