Synopsis: Los Angeles television host Blaze gets harassing phone calls during a New Year’s Eve special, with the anonymous caller promising to kill one person every hour until midnight.
There’s something special about horror movies of the 1970s and 1980s; even some low budget fare has the opportunity to surprise you and you’re able to come away with something. Our previous entry, The Baby, for example, was a completely unique experience. While I wouldn’t call New Year’s Evil an extraordinarily original concept, there is still something unique about the film that makes it a pretty good watch.
What I like about the film is how much we see the killer. In a sense, he’s more of an anti-hero than he is an antagonist. We spend a lot of time with him, and at first, it’s a little disorienting. They make no attempt to hide his face, which you come to expect that with a slasher movie such as this. But while it may seem like this movie is in the same vein as a Halloween or Friday the 13th, the killer in New Year’s Evil is a little more grounded in reality. He is more like Henry in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer than any of those supernatural slasher fiends. It’s an interesting shift to kind of follow him along and be almost complicit with his murderous ways and, at times, you kind of root for him to get on with it already. Other times, the tone shifts back to rooting against him and the film does a pretty nice job in shifting this audience allegiance.
The early 80s punk atmosphere leads to some great music for this film, especially the theme song performed by Shadow, but this setting also makes for a dated feel. The fashion, acting, and mustaches all make this feel super old and the music scenes showcase some of the worst faux-mosh pitting I’ve ever seen. There’s also a pretty good argument that the film is somewhat woman-hating, especially after the final reveal, but this isn’t a women’s studies class. Still, though, the scenes in which the killer stalks his prey, as well as the performance of Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero from Happy Days!) as Blaze makes this a film worth watching.
This one is really disappointing in this category. There are plenty of kills here, but most of the best moments in the kills happen off-screen. We get the faintest blood splatter when we do get it, but for a movie that sailed under the radar, it probably could have gotten away with a lot more.
Gore Rating: 2 out of 5
Not overly scary, mostly because it’s a little bit different than your standard slasher flick, in terms of perspective. We follow the killer more than the actual victims, so there are no opportunities for any jumps.
SCARES RATING: 1 out of 5
We get some near boobage a couple of times. First, our killer puts the moves on a nurse in hilariously quick fashion. Then, he interrupts a couple of teens trying to “get it on” (the girl’s words) at a drive-in. If you were a teen watching this late at night, hoping to see some skin, you would have been disappointed.
SEX/NUDITY RATING: 2 out of 5
New Year’s Evil is a perfect example that the above rating categories are not necessarily indicative of the film’s overall quality. It is a movie that is greater than the sum of its parts, merely based on me personally enjoying the film. It’s not great in a grand sense of the word; it doesn’t rival Halloween or even Friday the 13th, but a differing point-of-view than usual and a pretty good soundtrack sets this apart from the cheap crop of films from the same era.
OVERALL RATING: 3.5 out of 5