NEW YEAR'S EVIL
Director: Emmet Alston
Year of release: 1980
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 85-90 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Tagline: "Don't dare make New Year's Resolutions...Unless you plan to live" and "A celebration of the macabre".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: On New Years Eve famous rock chick Blaze is hosting a viewer interactive musical TV show counting down to the New Year. Whilst the audience are treated to live performances from the hottest new wave rock bands, the viewers are encouraged to call in to vote in a poll for their favourite songs of the year. The centerpiece of the show is based around the New Year countdown itself as they will be showing live footage of the clock striking midnight across three timezones in America. Things start with New York before moving on to Chicago, Colorado and finishing with their own countdown where the show is based on the West Coast. The festivities are interrupted when a mysterious caller phones in to talk to Blaze using a voice distorter. Naming himself Evil he claims he will kill someone at midnight to correspond with each of the timezone countdowns featured on the show starting with New York. Though initially dismissed as a crank things begin to look grim when he calls again shortly after the New York's midnight with a recording of his kill and information on where the police can find the body. When a corpse is indeed discovered the police fear that the killer is working up to committing murder at the music show itself with Blaze the potential final victim.
Good points: The film is comical at times and has a really light hearted feel to it which makes it fun to watch. I liked Richards disguises and his attempts at seducing women and how things kept going wrong for him after the first kill. I felt this added a bit of realism to the proceedings as well as if someone was to attempt something like this in real life then it is likely that things would crop up that would throw a spanner in the works. But anyway I found it funny how he was thwarted by the second victim wanting to bring her friend along so he ended up having to kill the both of them and he almost missed his Chicago countdown cue because one of them was jabbering so much. Then to add to his misery he gets railroaded by the biker gang whilst dressed as the priest on route to his next victim and he ends up getting so sidetracked here he ends up forgetting all about his intended target. Even when he has a bit of good fortune by stealing the car with the young woman in the back he manages to loose her and then the cops show up just as he is about to recapture her. It all made for a funny spectacle and even though he was a killer Richard came across as kind of a bumbling but loveable rogue that I found myself rooting for.
The phone calls Richard makes with the voice distorter are absolute gold and were my favourite parts of the movie. Again he sounded quite comical but in a good entertaining way.
The storyline of the film is in itself a very strong one, something which I think even many of the really negative reviews of this will agree on. The murder of a different victim on the stroke of midnight in each of America's different time zones leading up to murder at the rock show itself is a very clever effective idea. Perhaps it wasn't executed in the best manner but the idea itself is very good.
I think the parts near the end where Richard dons a mask were creepy and it would have been nice to have seen more of the mask earlier on in the film as it really looked pretty cool. I also liked how tying in with the mask the film had a dark ending with Derek doing what he did at the end. An obvious twist I know but still a fitting ending to things.
Bad Points: When it comes to gore or any kind of special effects to support the kills we are starved here with a little blood and wounds found on discovered corpses about being the extent of it. Richard's arm is twisted in an unpleasant way after his fall at the end but by and large the film is very tame in this area.
The rock bands that are performing at the party are just awful and receive far too much screen time for my liking. Maybe you would find something to enjoy if you were a teenager in the late seventies or early eighties and grew up with this kind of music but for the rest of us it is an assault on the eardrums we could have done without.
Though Richard does look unsettling towards the end when he is wearing the mask other than that he comes across as a bumbling incompetent as I mentioned before. Though this provides some humor and I was entertained it does mean that Richard (and Derek for that matter) aren't scary at all. They were perhaps too quick to reveal the killers identity as well as we know almost straight away who it is. I did enjoy what we ended up with but it might have been better and certainly darker if he had of worn the mask more in the early stages and only revealed his true face closer to the end.
The reason for Richard going on the killing spree when revealed at the end is very weak and could have done with a lot more thought and effort going into it. Essentially he is killing to get his wife's attention as he feels she is over bearing, more successful than him and neglectful towards both himself and their son. Why not just file for divorce then?
Verdict: New Year's Evil has a lot of negative press and feedback surrounding it so I was expecting a late extra helping of Christmas turkey but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Sure there are things wrong with it and with a few tweaks here and there it could have been a lot better but the idea of a murder on the stroke of midnight in different time zones is great and I found it to be a hoot to watch at times. It definitely wasn't as bad as I feared it would be and was for me actually just above average.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Yvonne: Pulled into the shower where she is either stabbed or has her throat cut.
2) Nurse Jane: Stabbed in either the neck or breasts while Richard is on top of her kissing her.
3) Sally: Suffocated with a bag of marijuana.
4) Lisa: Pulled into the dumpster where Richard is hiding. Later found with a stab wound on her chest.
5) Old biker: Stabbed when he confronts Richard at the drive in movie theater.
6) Richard: Commits suicide by jumping off the roof of the TV studio building after being cornered by the cops.
7) Ambulance driver: Seen on the floor of the ambulance with what looks to be his throat cut. Killed by Derek.
*There was also a cop shot in the chest or maybe shoulder by Richard towards the end but it was unclear whether or not it was a mortal wound.