A Movie A Day: NEW YEAR’S EVIL (1980) I can hear your heart beating. I don’t like that.
Published at: Oct. 11, 2010, 11:01 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the next installment of A Movie A Day: Halloween 2010 edition!
[For the entirety of October I will be showcasing one horror film each day. Every film is pulled from my DVD shelf or streamed via Netflix Instant and will be one I haven’t seen. Unlike my A Movie A Day or A Movie A Week columns there won’t necessarily be connectors between each film, but you’ll more than likely see patterns emerge day to day.]
You’ll have to forgive me if this is a slight review, but I don’t have all that much to say about this film.
NEW YEAR’S EVIL falls into that “didn’t love it, didn’t hate it” gray area of mediocrity that doesn’t exactly inspire any kind of passion one way or the other.
On the one hand it’s too goofy and amateurish to really be creeped out by and on the other it’s not fun enough to rally behind.
The basic plot follows a Punk icon named Blaze (Roz Kelly), a blazing red head who is throwing a big televised New Year’s bash at a hotel in Hollywood. When I say punk, I mean the kind of punks that are usually fun to watch in movies of the early ‘80s, like in Repo Man or Return of the Living Dead. They fit in those movies because of their tones. With Repo Man the whole feel of the movie is punk to start with and Return of the Living Dead is so over-the-top goofy fun that it all works.
Here the punk influence seems to be limited to the main character’s identity and the opportunity to have an edgy, for the time, punk rock soundtrack. And even the main character comes across more like an opera diva than Joan Jett.
On the show she’s counting down to the New Year starting on the East Coast, then Central, then Mountain, all culminating to the big West Coast New Year’s celebration. There’s a phone bank where viewers are encouraged to call in and vote for their favorite song of the year. One of the callers is a man who calls himself “Evil” and talks with a voice changing device.
Evil says he’s going to kill at Midnight and proceeds to follow through on his pre-New Year’s resolution, hunting and killing a different victim for each time zone, recording the murder on his handy-dandy portable tape deck. He then calls back and plays the murder for Blaze.
What I was hoping for in a movie like this was a fun time and a little atmosphere. There are moments that border on true creepiness (like the image of the killer in a garbage container or when the cops find a pair of victims in a playground or when the killer shows up wearing a creepy disfigured yet cartoonish human mask), but the whole set-up for this movie seems to cock block any chance at truly getting under my skin.
For one, the production value is amateurish at best. Poor production design (bare walls abound), poor cinematography (everything is high key lighting or too dark to see properly) and the obvious casting of friends of the producers/director/actors/anybody.
I’m sure the movie had a small budget to work with, but it’s not like Halloween was a high budget production. Or Black Christmas. Or any number of low budget horror films of the era. Atmosphere wasn’t a priority for the filmmakers, that’s clear.
They also decide to show us who the killer is right away after only showing us his mouth when he first calls up. I was hoping they’d take a page from the ‘70s giallos and find inventive ways to film him and let our imagination run a little bit. But no. We see this rather plain dude right away and watch him put on various disguises to entrap his victims.
I must say there are moments that work in this movie. The killer murders one of his victims with a big plastic bag of weed, for instance. And I like that our killer accidentally pisses off a biker gang and there’s a totally random chase thrown into the middle of the movie. To make this scene even more ridiculous our killer is dressed like a priest.
The movie could have used more fun like that. I can ignore bad acting and bad production value if the movie is fun. Look at Silent Night Deadly Night, for instance. That’s as cheap as they come, but goddamn is that a fun movie.
Final Thoughts: This Cannon title never made it to DVD, but you can catch it on Netflix Instant… The transfer looks like a good VHS, but it’s better than nothing, I guess. I think New Year’s Evil would fit in if you were doing a marathon of holiday themed horror movies, but I can almost guarantee it’ll be the worst film in the line-up. I’d recommend this only to fanatic horror completionists.
Currently in print on DVD: NO Currently available on Netflix Instant: YES
Here are the next week’s worth of AMAD titles:
Tuesday, October 12th: PROPHECY (1979)
Tomorrow's flick is Prophecy. No, not the Christopher Walken angel flick. Seen that one. A lot. It's awesome. This one's about a mutated bear or something. See you folks then!
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