Sunday, January 1, 2017

Trash Bin: NEW YEAR'S EVIL


Welcome to another installment of the TRASH BIN, where we watch the worst movies Hollywood has to offer, according to the critics, and give you our thoughts, good or bad. This week's pick is in keeping with a holiday theme. So I present the 1980 holiday horror film, NEW YEAR'S EVIL.



New Year’s Evil is an early 80’s horror movie that comes complete with a stalker/killer whose victims are so stereotypical ‘dumb bimbos’ that they all fall as easy prey to him without much effort on his part. The movie was made right before the masked/scarred killer became all the rage in the horror/slasher genre, so the killer guy is quite handsome. I guess even ‘dumb bimbos’ have enough sense to run from a hulking guy in a hockey mask. The psychotic killer, who calls himself…you guessed it...'Evil', is played by heartthrob actor, Kip Niven. But don't worry, a mask does make an appearance in this movie.


The object of the killer’s obsession in New Year’s Evil, is a famous Los Angeles based female Punk Rock & New Wave TV show host named Diane Sullivan, whose stage name is Blaze, played by Roz Kelly. In the 1980’s, Roz Kelly was a very beautiful red-haired actress that this movie somehow managed to make look more like a garish version of an aging saloon girl than a cutting edge New Wave TV Host. They even gave her a saloon girl name!

Sullivan a.k.a. Blaze is hosting a special New Year’s Eve show which she has dubbed….you guessed it again...’New Year’s Evil’, which will follow the count downs to New Year’s Eve in the four major U.S. time zones.  The audience of this live broadcast show, is a sparsely populated group of youngish looking background actors costumed out in what some studio wardrobe person believed 80’s style punk rockers looked like. No talent for dancing was required, as real bands like ‘Made In Japan’, looking for a big break, played music to thrash around by and supplied the only authentic feel to the movie’s attempt to capture the feel of Punk and New Wave music.  The dancers in New Year’s Evil would, in today’s horror movies, be mistaken for a zombie horde.


The handsome psycho decides the best way to terrorize the object of his obsession is to call her on air where she has conveniently decided to take calls from the viewing audience. Using what was meant to be a creepy sounding voice masker…yet ends up sounding more like it was Mike Myers inspiration for his ‘Dr. Evil’ voice, the psycho make threats to kill someone every time the New Year reaches a different time zone, starting with the east coast and ending with her being his west coast and last victim. So starts the horror part in this movie and the hunt is on, bodies pile up while cops are slow to believe that the threat is real.


New Year’s Evil, written by Leonard Neubauer and directed by Emmet Alston, does try really hard to be a scary movie with some interesting twists. They did a good job at hiding the identity of the killer in plain sight. He never truly covers his face until almost the end of the movie when he dons an exaggerated Richard Nixon mask for a brief time, yet who he is and why he is obsessed with Blaze remains a mystery until the very end.


Kip Niven does an excellent job elevating a clich├ęd character to a level of creepiness just by being so slick and handsome. The writers attempted to pad out the story by putting the killer into a stupid situation where he is being chased around by a biker gang for accidentally slamming his car into one of them. It was a plot device intended to make him miss killing his third victim but the writers failed to follow thru on this and have it even mentioned as significant by the police.

Meanwhile, the scenes of him stalking and killing his victims and being chased by bikers are inter-shot by scenes of Blaze’s twentysomething year old son, an aspiring actor, doing creepy things with lady’s stockings, switchblades and straight pins. Grant Cramer, another handsome heart throb of the day, does as much as he can to make these strange filler scenes work and manages to convey his character’s obvious descent into madness triggered by his mother’s seeming lack of interest in or focus on him.


Roz Kelly, never really hits the right note to make her character convincing as this Icon of New Wave and Punk music. She is on surer footing as the self absorbed woman who finds herself being menaced but doesn't fall apart.

New Year’s Evil is not a bad movie, but it’s not a good one either. It’s sort of a mediocre entry into the beginning of the 80’s slasher movie craze. The writers put in the requisite trick ending designed to set the movie up for a sequel or two, however New Year’s Evil was so poorly received, that no sequel ever materialized. Not after critics called it things like ‘unbelievably, unspeakably awful’, ‘a second-rate B-horror film, that has an interesting concept but goes about it rather poorly’.  Though some, like myself, found the movie to have, like it’s main villain, its own charm and slickness. It was an interesting concept, it just needed better hands at the wheel to drive the plot along.

CRITICS' SCORES:

Rotten Tomatoes: 14%
IMDb: 4.8/10
Roger Ebert: 1.5/4

MARLA’S SCORE: 4/10


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