Friday, January 12, 2018


Maurice Tobias

Roger’s Gym is small work-out den that is failing thanks to the underhanded interference of the larger Rejuvenarium. While Roger (Daniel Greene) struggles to keep his business afloat, he also strikes up a romance with a new instructor, Annie (Lee Taylor-Allan). Finally, Roger and Annie see a way to save their business by rebranding as Pulsebeat and winning the local Aerobics competition creatively titled ‘Aerobithon.’

The aerobicsploitation microgenre seems like an inescapable result of the 1980s. It is filled with neon, synthesizer music, and sweaty heaving bodies. We live in an era that really fetishizes the 1980s and overstates how prevalent those elements were, but movies cashing in on the aerobics fad often come near to realizing the pastiche.  While Killer Workout (1987), Hell Spa (1992) and Death Spa (1989) throw horror into the mix, Pulsebeat is more of a straight-forward sports film with some light romantic subplots. Well, one of these subplots is much more stalkery and gross than the other but that’s the 1980s for you.

"You got a chest hair right there, pal!"
At its heart, Pulsebeat is about an underdog sports team (or in this case aerobics gym) facing off against a much larger, wealthier, and better-equipped team (or in this case a resort spa). It also contains the usual clinched platitudes about believing in yourself and pushing past your limits, just in this case instead of baseball or karate it's about guy pedaling on an exercise bike to an excited crowd.

Daniel Greene, the star of one of my favorite movies, Hands of Steel (1986) stars as Roger. He’s given a bit more depth than I expected out a film like this, he has his aspirations, his love interest, and even a role model in the form of a former body-builder turned sword-and-sandal movie star. Greene isn’t going to wow anyone with his performance but he shows that’s got more in him than just his grim-faced outing as Paco Queruak.

Far creepier is Alvin (Bob Small) an accountant who becomes a fitness buff. He takes a fancy to a woman at Roger's Gym (Alicia Moro), hears a rumor that she is a prostitute and decides to stalk her. It all results in a meet-cute and romance, but it feels gross and weird despite the movie’s insistence that it is all mildly funny.

It's as exciting as it looks.
The real stars of the movie are the numerous workout scenes set to rocking synth tunes that often skirt close to being recognizable hits but swerve away just in time to avoid paying royalties. I’ve never been to an aerobics class, but the ones on display in movies seem more like highly choreographed dance numbers that everyone picks up immediately. Pulsebeat is no exception. There are also plenty of sweaty bodies grinding and writhing across the screen. For all its shortcomings, Pulsebeat is an equal opportunity voyeur when it comes to lingering on male and female bodies.

Pulsebeat is a serviceable enough film designed to exploit a popular fad of the time. It’s never quite funny or sleazy enough to really be notable, but keeps up the pace and delivers some sweaty entertainment.

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