Not that long ago the video store was a mundane and sometimes obnoxious part of life; driving over to some lonesome strip mall with your friends or family to comb through the all-too-often disorganized shelves of your local shop, argue over a selection, and then be stuck with it, for good or ill. Yet, it was also sublime. And for those who lived during the true video boom, video stores also equate to another bygone commodity: VHS. When JVC’s Video Home System won the early-80’s format warthe motion picture market changed forever. The genre and B-movies that had previously filled drive-ins across the country now often went straight to VHS. Then DVD took the world by storm in the late-90’s. It was a brave new world, and sadly, many films never made the leap, trapped now on a dead format. These often aren’t “good” films, but goddammit, they were what made video stores great. For we here at CHUD are the kind of people who tended to skip over the main stream titles, our eyes settling on some bizarre, tantalizing cover for a film we’d never even heard of, entranced. These films are what VHS was all about.

Some people are still keeping the VHS flame burning. People like me, whose Facebook page Collecting VHS is a showcase for the lost charms of VHS box artwork. With this column it is my intention to highlight these “lost” films and the only rule I have for myself is that they cannot be available on DVD. 

Title: Pulsebeat
 Sizzling dance by day – hot moves by night! 
Released by:
 Lightning Video
 Marice Tobias

click to embiggen

Plot: Roger (Daniel Greene) is the owner of a hot health club where only the most buff looking men and women go to work out. His sexy new aerobics instructor Annie (Lee Taylor Allan) starts heating things up in and out of the club. Together they train to compete in the national Aerobithon and beat the evil Marlene – the owner of a rival health emporium whom desperately wants to take over Roger’s gym.

Thoughts: One of the things that I absolutely love about the video era of the nineteen eighties is that every time I think I’ve seen every type of exploitation film there is, another one just crawls out of the woodwork demanding to be noticed. Case in point, this week’s review is the result of some extensive research I’ve done on the aerobicsploitation genre.

As you’re all probably aware of, at some point in the 80’s everyone became very body conscious and started working out and pumping iron. With health clubs springing up all over and the aerobics craze in full swing, it seemed everywhere you looked there was some hot, young guy or gal in spandex and leg warmers, sweating it out to a synth heavy beat. So, it was only natural for our latest national obsession to become the subject of several films from that period. Flashdance started it off, only to be followed by Perfect, Heavenly Bodies, Staying Alive and my new favorite addition to the genre, Pulsebeat.

In a way, Pulsebeat is the quintessential aerobics film because it represents the vapidness of that culture beautifully. The opening credits montage is a compilation of male and female body parts working out to an insane opening theme song that features the most pointless nudity ever. Roger (Daniel Greene) is the mega-buff owner of a struggling health club called Pulsebeat that attracts only the best looking people who want to socialize while they aerobicize.

When the evil Marlene, owner of the rival fitness club the Rejuvenarium, plots to take over Roger’s fledgling gym, salvation comes in the form of the smoking hot aerobics instructor, Annie (Lee Taylor Allan). Before long, she completely invigorates Roger’s business… and that’s not all! The two become lovers during an amazing workout montage where they seduce each other while lifting weights and then perform sex on top of the work out equipment. Hott!

But in order for Roger to fully succeed, he must first overcome his fear of failure at the National Aerobithon. Marlene’s team always wins, but this year Roger has Annie training him and giving him the kind of encouragement that will make him work out harder than ever before. That, combined with a good pep talk from Roger’s fitness idol/guru Greg Adonis, gives him just the right amount of confidence to win the grueling aerobics marathon and save his club! Yay!

This film is fucking amazing! First, it has more montages than any movie I’ve ever seen before. There is literally a montage every ten minutes, with the montages sometimes segueing into another completely different montage! It’s like a montage of montages!

Second, if you’re into aerobics, buff bodies and outrageous eighties work out attire, then this is your movie. Spandex outfits with useless belts, skin-tight short shorts, humongous aqua-netted hair, and leg warmers on everyone (including the guys) is the aesthetic throughout the entirety of the film.

As a matter of fact, the only character in the movie who isn’t into working out is a nerd accountant for the gym, who starts pumping iron to catch the attention of a gorgeous lady at the club. He later accuses her of being a call girl, because she has a beeper, only to discover she’s actually a doctor. This becomes a weird, distracting subplot to the film that I absolutely loved.

Third, if you like your 80’s soundtracks filled with mindless synth-pop songs from artists you’ve never heard of before, this movie has quite a list. The track titles include: Move it, I Can’t Stand It, I’ll Put The Bomp In Your Groove and the amazing, Breakin’ Through To A Dream.

Finally, there’s the nudity. There’s so much of it I don’t know where to begin, but the best thing about it is, it’s completely unnecessary.

This is a bad movie that has aged into a remarkably entertaining film to watch. The acting is so awful, it becomes its own entity, only to be enhanced by moments where there’s some horrendous dubbing that seems to have all been performed by the same person, including both the male and the female voices. It’s spectacularly terrible!

You have about as much chance of spotting a unicorn than seeing this movie, but if you get the opportunity, DO IT! I’m the only person I know who’s seen it and I need someone to talk to about it… and to aerobicize with.

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