Friday, July 15, 2016

New Year's Evil (1980)

First, some news: 

Work is fucked this week. I'm not even sure I'm going to get a weekend, which is my favorite time to get hungover and loaded up on pizza while watching too many movies. Thankfully, I've got a stash of movie reviews tucked away for times like these. Today's movie is New Year's Evil.

Before we begin, I just wanted to point out there are two online movie marathons coming up this month. The big one is put on by these guys, whose marathon will be 24 hours straight(!). My favorites on their schedule include Frankenhooker, Death Spa, Warlock, Ticks, and Flash Gordon. The others I either haven't seen (I Am Here... Now) or never really liked (Ice Pirates). This marathon begins on Friday, July 22nd at 9/8c. 

The other marathon is put on by /r/badmovies and it's on Saturday, July 30th. I really enjoyed their last marathon.

Speaking of movie events, I'm really bummed out I probably won't get to see Lucio Fulci's A Cat in the Brain at the Circle Cinema tonight. Shit is hectic in my part of the world right now, which explains the lack of updates lately. 

Okay, back to the regularly scheduled movie....

* * *


"Shhhh... I can hear your heart beating. I don't like that."

Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero on Happy Days) plays Blaze Sullivan, the VJ-like host of a televised New Year's Eve bash. During one of the show's call-in segments, a Dalek-like modulated voice promises to kill someone very close to Blaze. The police quickly discover it's not just a prank call: someone's already dead.

The man responsible refers to himself as Evil. Evil intends to murder someone every hour, on the hour, as each timezone in the United States welcomes the new year. In case you're wondering, it's just as entertaining as it is stupid. Come to think of it, that should probably be Cannon Film Group's official motto.


Unlike most slasher films of the era, which played it too safe to stray from the tried-and-true formula, New Year's Evil seeks to combine something old ("the killer will strike again at midnight!") with something new (which, at the time, was the aforementioned slasher craze). Best of all, the killer's face is seen from the get-go so we never have to endure the lame POV shots which tend to plague these kinds of movies.

As per Cannon's philosophy, everyday reality has been cranked up to 11. This ensures even the mundane scenes are stupidly sensational. The forecast calls for switchblades, folks. Said the casting director: "You get a switchblade! And you get a switchblade! And you...."


Right off the bat we see a group of young punks drinking and driving down a Hollywood street in a convertible that's pushing its capacity. The televised party they're heading to hosts a gaggle of similar delinquents as one band after another plays fantastically shitty 80s music. Good times.

Meanwhile the killer paroles mental institutions and bars for his victims. Remember, his plan is to kill someone every hour on the hour until the new year. He's capable of getting an awful lot done in the hour between attacks, including: finding his victims, arranging their dead bodies for cinematic reveals, changing disguises, sneaking into guarded buildings, and calling into the TV show. At one point he even gets into a traffic accident with a biker gang that leads to a foot chase through a drive-in movie. Yet he still manages to get to his next appointment on time.

[THE MOST POINTLESS SPOILER ALERT IN HISTORY]

Unless you've never seen a movie in your life, you'll figure out the twist ending: the killer is actually Blaze's oft-mentioned but curiously missing-in-action husband. Even if the repeated "Where's Dad?" lines don't clue you in, you'll start to suspect it the moment their son pulls his mother's pantyhose over his head and pierces his ear with a needle. Here's the best part: during a wonderfully cheesy soliloquy he looks into the mirror and tells himself, "I think I have a mental disorder."


What ever could have tipped him off?

If you've ever enjoyed a Cannon film or a slasher movie, you're probably going to like this one. And don't worry: there's yet another twist at the end which I didn't spoil. Unfortunately, you'll see that one coming from a mile away, too. Oh well, it's still a decent picture.

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