10 Horror Tales to Derail Your New Year's Fitness Resolutions

10 Horror Tales to Derail Your New Year's Fitness Resolutions

Just when you decided to hit the gym, here come several convincing arguments in favor of just staying on the couch.

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Billie Lourd in American Horror Story: 1984
American Horror Story: 1984
Screenshot: FX

New year, new you! Time to sign up for a gym membership, hit the weights, join exercise classes, and take your workouts seriously in 2023! But.. what if we told you bloodthirsty maniacs also enjoy the pursuit of fitness—and often pick their targets from among the buff and beautiful? Here are 10 cautionary tales that’ll make you rethink your resolutions.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master | “No Pain No Gain” | Warner Bros. Entertainment

After Freddy finishes off all the Elm Street kids, he moves on to their unlucky friends in this 1988 franchise entry. Maybe the most unlucky is Debbie (Brooke Theiss), whose two character traits—she loves to work out, but she hates bugs—get a Krueger-engineered mash-up when she dozes off in the weight room and transforms, horrifyingly, into a giant cockroach.

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Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Birthday to Me

Image for article titled 10 Horror Tales to Derail Your New Year's Fitness Resolutions
Screenshot: Columbia Pictures

Another argument against weight-bench usage comes in this 1981 slasher, which sees victims plucked off one by one as part of a revenge plot—including musclebound Greg (Richard Rebiere), whose workout of choice makes it all too easy for the killer to crush him to death.

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Final Exam

Final Exam

Jock Murdered Using Gym Equipment - Final Exam (1981)

College students meet a series of gruesome ends in this slasher, also from 1981 and also featuring a kill scene involving weightlifting equipment. This time, though, it’s a dude getting strangled by stretchy handles on a Bowflex-type machine.

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Killer Workout (a.k.a. Aerobicide)

Killer Workout (a.k.a. Aerobicide)

Image for article titled 10 Horror Tales to Derail Your New Year's Fitness Resolutions
Screenshot: Maverick Films Productions

No list of fitness horror would be complete without this 1987 slasher that’s just as concerned with ogling boobs, biceps, and gyrating butts as it is with murdering its way (using, creative weapon alert, a giant safety pin!) through its perky cast.

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Death Spa

Death Spa

Death Spa (1988) - Trailer

If you decide you simply must join the hottest new health club in town, make sure it’s not also home to an angry ghost with a vicious revenge plot—like the swanky gym in this 1989 cult classic co-starring Dawn of the Dead’s Ken Foree.

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The Toxic Avenger

The Toxic Avenger

The Toxic Avenger (1984) - Trailer

Troma’s splat-tastic 1984 black comedy follows a hapless wimp who’s tormented by the buff jerks at the health club where he works as a janitor until he falls into a vat of nuclear waste and transforms into a mutant superhero hellbent on making his bullies pay, often in the grossest ways possible.

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Fatal Games

Fatal Games

Fatal Games (1984) trailer

This 1984 slasher follows an elite gymnastics team whose rigorous training schedule is gruesomely inconvenienced by a javelin-wielding maniac. If you must work out, try something less competitive, and therefore less likely to attract a disgruntled fiend with agonizingly deadly aim.

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Demons 2

Demons 2

Demons 2 - Official Trailer HD

Produced by Italian horror legend Dario Argento, this 1986 sequel to Lamberto Bava’s 1985 Demons shifts the action from a barricaded movie theater to an apartment building, but keeps the general idea of “crazed monsters on a chaotic rampage.” The setting enables a lot of wild scenarios to intersect (possessed children and dogs! A teen birthday party gone horribly wrong! A pregnant woman in peril!), but you can’t help but root for the group of bodybuilders who use their hard-earned muscles and an array of makeshift weapons to (try and) defend the building’s besieged parking garage.

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Murder Rock

Murder Rock

Murder Rock (1984) - VHS Trailer [Roadshow Home Video Video]

Also from Italy, this 1984 giallo-gone-disco flick from genre legend Lucio Fulci stars Olga Karlatos (a.k.a. the woman who memorably has her eyeball skewered in Fulci’s Zombi 2) as a dance teacher who gets caught up in a serious of gruesome murders at the academy where she works. Argento’s Suspiria might be the ultimate Italian dance-school horror movie, but only Fulci’s Murder Rock comes with the unsubtle subtitle Dancing Death.

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American Horror Story: 1984

American Horror Story: 1984

American Horror Story: 1984 | Season 9 Ep. 1: Jazzercise Highlight | FX

Before the main characters in American Horror Story: 1984 head to the doomed summer camp where most of the anthology show’s ninth season takes place, they meet in... Jazzercise class. It’s just one of many clever winks to the slasher genre that pepper every episode, and it sets up the slaughter to come with a knowing sense of pitch-perfect camp that helped make 1984 one of the long-running series’ most entertaining installments.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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