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PULSEBEAT (1985; Just For the Hell of It).

In the wake of the aerobics/health-club boom of the early-'80s, a few dumb-ass movie producers decided to embrace this Lycra-leotarded trend. There were mainstream efforts like PERFECT, drive-in fare like HEAVENLY BODIES, plus this Spanish-funded low-budgeter shot around South Beach, Miami. And you know you're in for something hypnotically cheesy during its quick-cut opening credits -- flexing male torsos, women's jiggling behinds and breasts, close-up pumping and dancing -- with director Marice Tobias (the first female director to win a Clio Award and, nowadays, one of Hollywood's premiere voiceover coaches) delivering 91 minutes of enjoyably breezy, Dancercise-era idiocy, with enough gratuitous bare flesh to satisfy both male and female audience members. Alas, this was her only feature... Daniel Greene (ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK) stars as the beefcake owner of Roger's Gym, but even though their aerobics classes are packed with hot young babes and heavily-permed guys in tank-tops and teeny shorts, the business is hemorrhaging cash. Maybe it's because Roger is an immature asshole with abrupt mood swings and a staggering potential for skin cancer? Phys Ed instructor Annie (Lee Taylor Allan) works with cheerful black kids and has a crush on muscleheaded Roger, so she tries out for an instructor job at his gym and, within seconds, has everyone dancing in perfect unison. In order to save the place, Annie and Roger's big plan is to rename it Pulsebeat, update its look to suit the modern singles' lifestyle, and also win the city's high-profile Aerobithon, a competition that consiss of running, weight lifting, stationary bike, aerobics, and an endurance finale with two grown men battling it out over calisthenics! And yes, it's all fucking ridiculous. Meanwhile, its shamelessly schlocky script makes the BREAKIN' movies look deep and introspective. The cast includes Alice Moore (a.k.a. Alice Moro, from EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 2000) as the gym's sultriest, most mysterious member; Bob Small (KING FRAT) is a milquetoast accountant who provides comic relief by trying to get in shape and demonstrates how stalking is the simplest way to win a beautiful woman's heart; MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE's Peter Lupus pops in as Italian sword-and-sandal actor Greg Adonis, who bonds with Roger over their mutual love of pumping-up and adds an unintentional gay undercurrent; and Helga Liné (Lupus' co-star in two of his early peplums, GOLIATH AT THE CONQUEST OF DAMASCUS and HERCULES AND THE TYRANTS OF BABYLON) is Roger's competitor, whose Rejuvenarium keeps poaching his employees. Packed with sweaty exercise montages and '80s trappings -- from its polyester fashions, to the neon-eyesore set decoration, to a soundtrack by Walter Murphy (who had a BILLBOARD #1 hit with the disco-instrumental "A Fifth of Beethoven") -- PULSEBEAT is so deliriously disjointed that I often wondered if the reels were out of order. That's a sure sign of exploitation greatness.

© 2014 by Steven Puchalski.