Archive for January 4, 2015

newyearsevil

Depending on how you look at things, I’m either reviewing this film two days too late — since it’s now January 3rd — or 35 years and two days too late, since it came out in 1980. Take your pick.

Tell ya what, though — any  way you look at it, director (and co-writer) Emmett Alston’s New Year’s Evil is a fun, if wholly predictable, “holiday slasher,” and that’s a genre that seems to have all but died out in recent decades, which is a real shame, because we could use some more like this. Oh, sure, it never approaches the soaring heights of  Lewis Jackson’s Christmas Evil (which came out a month earlier the  same year and has nothing to do with this one, despite the admittedly uber-similar titles), but it’s still the kind of corny, campy, park-your-brain-outside-and-your-butt-in-the-seat horror flick that the decade it was ushering in produced in such generous quantities, and for that, it deserves a little bit of acknowledgement for being at least slightly (if only by a handful of months) ahead of its time.

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There’s no point continuing here without issuing a massive caveat, though : the events portrayed in this movie are flat-out impossible to take at face value, even by slasher standards. Yeah, Jason and Michael and Freddy and the like never stay dead, but can they travel all over the goddamn country at more or less the speed of thought? Such appears to be the power of the unnamed (well, until just about the very end) masked killer here (pictured above), a guy who’s going from coast to coast and all points in between killing random female strangers as the clock strikes midnight and the new year is rung in.

Our psycho (played by Kip Niven) isn’t content to merely slice ’em up and leave ’em, though — he’s a boisterous sort, you see, and after each new victim he claims, he calls in to the Hollywood Hotline New Year’s Eve special, an MTV-ish holiday concert hosted by a quasi-punkish VJ/emcee named Blaze (Roz Kelly), who he seems to take a special delight in taunting about all the “naughty girls” who won’t be living to see 1981 thanks to him. Hmmm — could there be a connection between the two?

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Of course there is. And frankly, you’re gonna see it coming from a mile off, but so what? That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a perfectly good example of — well, exactly the kind of film it’s a perfectly good example of :  a pacy, reasonably atmospheric, very-much-a-product-of-its-time,  cheesy , violently misogynistic sleaze-fest.

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Geez, for a second there I almost make it sound like that’s a bad thing, don’t I? But trust me when I say New Year’s Evil is all kinds of low-grade fun. For proof of this, you can either wait for the Shout! Factory Blu-ray release next month, or catch it streaming on Netflix right now for free. I’m fully confident that you’ll agree that, one, they just don’t make ’em like this anymore, and two, that’s sorta too bad, because while this is certainly far from classic stuff, it’s got a lot more heart than most of its modern counterparts.