Ed. Note- Let’s go against the grain and celebrate everything but Christmas on DE this DEcember. We’ll start with NEW YEAR’S EVIL, which you can find on Amazon Instant and Netflix Instant. But please don’t.- P.F.
Unlike most people who will be drinking, partying and carousing at family homes and clubs, I’ll likely spend New Year’s Eve at my new job, managing a restaurant. Being the new guy makes me the low man on the pole, so I won’t be free to kill someone every hour as each U.S. time zone brings in the new year. And I certainly won’t have time to watch a bizarre punk rock celebration hosted by Pinky Tuscadero from Happy Days. But that’s ok. As I’m not insane, I wouldn’t have acted such even if I were free that night. For those of you who are insane (and fairly tacky), I’d advise you not to reenact NEW YEAR’S EVIL. It’s an atrocious slasher, and besides, you’d need crackerjack timing to do that once-an-hour routine.
Seriously though, NEW YEAR’S EVIL is an awful film that tries to cash in on the successes of BLACK CHRISTMAS and HALLOWEEN by positing its slasher plot on New Year’s Eve. Punky gal Diane Sullivan hosts a punk show to bring in the new year, complete with phone bank accepting calls for tunes. When a caller with an odd voice suggests he’s going to kill once per time zone’s turning of the year, with Diane the final target, Diane is understandably upset. As the killings commence, the police do little to protect her (one cop suggests with the crowd she draws, she pretty much deserves the death threats). There’s a subplot involving Diane’s neglected son and absent ex, and a climax on a roof at midnight, L.A. style.
The problem with all that is that nothing works. Slashers depend most on the caliber of the killer and the creativity of the kills. From the silly voice of the killer on the phone to his frequent disguises, there’s nothing scary about this guy, and his kills are bland. The whole scenario seems more like an episode of the INSPECTOR GADGET cartoon. The family angle is underdeveloped, and a message to the son: putting pantyhose over your head and then piercing your ear through them isn’t going to get mom’s attention if you’re alone in a hotel room. The live band at Diane’s show plays the film’s theme at least three times during the film, a shame because the song stinks. Even a scene in which a cop repeats “Tickets” without any emotion to punks, one of whom whips out a comb in a knife handle, doesn’t exactly make the anti-authority stance seem cool. As Diane, Roz Kelly brings her usual sass, but she has no chance to redeem a ridiculous concept that fails on all cylinders.
NEW YEAR’S EVIL forgets in imitating BLACK CHRISTMAS and HALLOWEEN that those films were artistic successes as well as financial. But hey, this flicks takes no stab at being high art. It’s a cash-in on a trend. It wastes Roz Kelly and a chance to do something provocative with the turn of the calendar. So if you plan to kill one person per time zone this New Year’s Eve, I’d suggest you manage a restaurant instead. Or if you plan on watching NEW YEAR’S EVIL, put on Carpenter or Bob Clark’s classics.