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A rock show host dubbed Blaze gets threatening phone calls during her
New Year's Eve gig. The caller informs her that he'll murder a
different person each time the clock strikes midnight in one of the
four continental U.S. timezones, and odds are that she'll be his final
One of the few slashers to have eluded me over the years, it was nice to finally scratch this off the list. It's far from a top-tier effort in the sub-genre, however. The killer, played by Kip Niven, isn't the least bit threatening. He only dons a mask towards the end of the film, so he doesn't have that to fall back on either. Also, too many scenes of dancing punk rockers and filth masquerading as music for my taste. Now, there are some quality stalk and slash sequences. Most notable is one victim's unpleasant surprise in a garbage dumpster. We also get a hefty helping of cheese, mainly from the killer himself and Blaze's dopey son. The bit with the former dealing with angry bikers at a drive-in is gold.
Overall, I was entertained, but it's not exactly good. Not even close.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's New Year's Eve, and DJ Blaze Sullivan (Pinky Tuscadero, a.k.a.
actress Roz Kelly) is hosting a night long dance party / concert
celebrating supposed "new wave" music. Somebody else is celebrating,
but in their own macabre way: a dude named EEEE-vil (Kip Niven) is
calling Blaze's show and following through on his threat to murder
someone every time the clock strikes midnight in a time zone. The
clueless cops can't do much to stop him, as he goes through one
masquerade after another - pretending to be a doctor, a priest, a
business agent - while in the act of slaughtering unfortunate women.
"New Year's Evil" was an early production for producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus and their Cannon Group company; written by Leonard Neubauer and directed by Emmett Alston, it's mostly good for the laughs it provides. "Evil" speaks through a voice modulator and it's a hoot when he calls Blaze, remaining deadly serious while his voice sounds so funny. Still, as mentioned, the movie isn't without its moments, such as "Evil" having a surprise in store, inside a dumpster, for a young lady. Also, it's interesting the way the movie focuses so much on its killer, not bothering to obscure his face, and following him just as much as it follows the activities of Blaze. It's a real hoot when "Evil", while in his priest garb, incurs the wrath of some bikers and is forced to abandon his mode of transportation. Also entertaining are the hilarious extras in the dance sequences, busting some of the most lethargic and priceless dance moves one is ever likely to see. In fact, all the extras and bit players in this thing are worthy of chuckles. Adding a creepiness factor is Blaze's odd ball son Derek (Grant Cramer, "Killer Klowns from Outer Space"). Co-starring are Chris Wallace ("Don't Answer the Phone!") as the not terribly efficient police detective, and lovely ladies Louisa Moritz and Taaffe O'Connell as victims; Niven is a standout, giving his all to a killer with a thin, not very convincing motivation; Kelly's character is clearly not meant to be sympathetic, but it would help if she weren't so damn annoying in the part. The music is insidiously catchy, especially that title theme song which we get to hear a couple of times. The finale, however, falls short of being really satisfying, at least in terms of the killer's comeuppance.
Overall, an underwhelming slasher, with limited gore and no nudity, but it is entertaining in spurts.
Five out of 10.
Cannon's Golan / Globus productions join the low-budget slasher party.
Another significant day of the year. Means a psycho going on slaughter
spree. But actually the novelty of "New Year's Evil" is cleverly
planned out (even with the usual staples, vague descriptions and
contrived aspects) as the killer murders someone exactly at the strike
of the new year. However this includes the different time zones across
the country. When he does it, he calls in to a new wave rock TV special
speaking to the hostess and then plays the recording of his female
victim's death. This is the same memo, one after another. Because of
the set-up, just like many horror outings during the 80s we get plugged
by a couple of bands playing their music while we watch fans aimlessly
mosh about. It's padding, but at least there's a purpose behind it.
Although the constant cutting between the TV special and the killer did
make the suspense a bit inconsistent, but still it all boils down to a
preposterously intense finale and there's no hiding how compulsively
nasty it can be. Watching the killer going about his business is rather
amusing in a reckless way, because it never seems to be smooth sailing
as he encounters difficulties of some sort in trying to achieve his
goal. In all, while smart it does fall on the daft side. The killer
stays in plain sight, no hiding behind anything although the film's
well disguised twist took me by surprise and the motivation for our
killer is rather grey. Maybe something to do along these lines ("Ladies
are not very nice people")? Kip Niven is a treat as the sicko known as
Evil. It's worthwhile for just his fun twisted performance and those
phone calls. Roz Kelly is tolerable, but far from likable as the
self-centred TV hostess Blaze and Grant Cramer keeps it unusual as her
son. Chris Wallace plays the well-worn cop on the case. Also there's
bubbly support by Louisa Moritz and Taaffe O'Connell. Director Emmett
Alston's sturdy style keeps a raw edge to it and keeps it moving
forward at a good pace, despite the moments of filler. Also the music
score leaves a stinging shutter with the bone rattling cues Trashy, but
enjoyable oddball slasher offering.
"The show must go on."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was very fortunate, unlike a lot of my 80s peers, to see "New Years
Evil" on Turner Classics this morning (honestly, I think this film is
best viewed after Midnight) instead of some terrible, badly beaten up
VHS copy that would be incredibly difficult to find unless you were
willing to fork of 60 bucks like some desperate slasher fans might.
Some might say that this is the way to view any slasher for the first
time, but a clear picture really maybe helps one appreciate the print
for some of the stylistic touches that are here even if the more
titillating and gory details the genre is known for are absent. I think
at best, "New Year's Evil" will be considered by genre aficionados as a
I do think, even if it is ludicrous and implausible, the plot gives us a novel premise: the psychopath who taunts the host of a New York New Wave radio New Years studio show about killing a woman every Midnight across the country in different time zones, leaving her as his last victim. I can't really swallow the premise that Niven can get from Florida to NY (driving through several time zones throughout the country) in like a couple hours, while getting into disguises, setting up murders, carrying them out, escaping, and making it to his destination with only a few hitches along the way. I do consider an interesting premise which strays from the typical formula something somewhat noteworthy.
I think Kip Niven, his handsome and friendly looks, is actually a wise casting choice because you can see how he might trick females by gaining their trust. What I found fascinating by this movie compared to countless others is that the lead protagonist, Roz Kelly's music personality/celebrity, Diane Sullivan, isn't a sympathetic figure in the least. She's self-absorbed to an extreme degree, only concerned with her own success, worried about how this New Year's Eve music show will benefit her own career (completely ignoring her son's announcement of getting a lead role on a television show, just ruining a moment of pride for the kid, further illustrating how wholly involved in only her own world this bitch is), and even as the killer phones in his crimes, she's worried about how they will infect the show. I will be honest: the ending, where she is bound to the bottom of an elevator where it appears she will be squashed ("Get smashed."), I was rooting for her demise to be epic. If only they had gone that route, I would bump up my rating for "New Year's Evil". I just flat hated her, I won't lie. Every time she's on screen, I just despised her more, I won't lie.
Anyway, the film goes back and forth between Niven stalk and hunting girls while the high rise studio rock show with Roz worrying about dying as kid punks with an "F-U" attitude bump and grind in a mosh pit where they seem to be spaced out on coke or pills, in a zombie-like state bouncing off each other. The film actually opens with a group of punk rock fans, dressed the part, and sold out to the lifestyle, including ugly behavior to anyone who drives by their open convertible. As a 80s artifact (if you were of the mindset that NYC was becoming a cesspool, this movie probably gave you ammunition), I think this movie will be of interest. Grant Cameron, as Roz' pretty son harboring issues with Mommy, has some great scenes if you like seeing one of the beautiful people going off the deep end after dropping three pills, pulling a stocking over his face and rambling demented things, eventually jamming an earring through his ear. The violence is rather underwhelming--the usual switchblade slash-stab off-screen jazz--but the way Niven gets into killing his girls adds some impact to them just the same. I have to say, Niven makes this film for me; it could've been so much less tolerable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Diane Sullivan (Roz Kelly) is hosting a happening New Wave New Year's TV countdown under her hip sobriquet of Blaze. All is going well as she prepares to countdown across four different timezones with New Year's crawling toward L.A. Of course, some dude calls in named Evil and has to be a total bummer by saying he is going to kill someone close to Blaze every time it strikes midnight. Like, gag me with a spoon! The only interesting thing about this might be the fact that it was the first slasher film produced by Golan & Globus. I'm not quite sure what they were thinking casting Kelly in the lead, when the film clearly would have benefited from a younger, hipper actress. The film also bizarrely tries to mislead the viewer into thinking Blaze's teenage son is the killer, which is crazy because it clearly shows the killer (Kip Niven from MAGNUM FORCE) doing his thing. It was only up from here for director Emmett Alston as he did the Sho Kosugi vehicle 9 DEATHS OF THE NINJA and the great genre-blender DEMONWARP over the next few years.
I just finished watching this movie and it wildly exceeded my
expectations. I have a lot to say about it, but to make this review
useful for the greatest amount of people possible, I'll summarize
first: This movie is awesome for anyone looking for a fun, campy horror
flick with crazy elements at every turn that keep it fresh and
interesting. The most perfect example I can think of of riding the line
between believable and over the top. For well-versed fans of horror
history and genre tropes, simply a must see.
What makes this movie so great for me is a combination of two things. The first thing is obvious talent and knowledge on the part of the filmmakers who put so much thought into this film. I went into this movie thinking it was going to be pure trash; a slasher film with a gimmick to cash in on the trend gaining steam during this time. But it's so much more. The people behind this film didn't just see "Friday the 13th" and think, "Psh, I can do that," and pump out a piece of crap like many movies from this era. The film is full of homage to its inspirations, some of my favorites being the black leather gloves of Italian Giallo films, a direct reference to what has to have been a huge inspiration to the filmmakers, Hershall Gordon Lewis' "Blood Feast," and even pretty much straight lifting the "Jason's near" sound effects from Friday the 13th. For a rabid horror fan with solid knowledge of certain motifs, this film has something for you in every scene.
The other thing that will make this film enjoyable even to those who aren't necessarily horror enthusiasts is the perfectly executed comedy. I feel no shame calling it comedy because if these guys loved "Blood Feast" enough to literally name drop it in this movie, they knew exactly what they were making and how funny it was. The movie is actually completely played straight, to the point where you could reasonably believe everyone was serious throughout the filmmaking process. That's what I mean about it perfectly riding the line between believable and absurd: its not plain goofy to where you know its a big joke, but everything that occurs on screen is absolutely wild. The characters are ABSURD. Every one of them is strange and funny in some way. The situations they are put in are almost even better. Our killer will don quite a variety of disguises in his quest to get the perfect midnight kill, and the hijinks that ensue are practically fit for a straight comedy film. I can't think of one scene that I didn't find entertaining. The camp is just oh so perfect.
Besides these specific areas in which the film excelled, there are plenty of more general compliments to give it. For one, I really enjoyed the pacing throughout. Many of the more obscure slasher flicks I've seen rely so hard on just one gimmick, it can get really dull really fast, but this one stays fresh with plenty of things that mix up the circumstances throughout. The pacing is also helped by the fact that the killer actually has a goal. He's specifically after just one person, and each other person is just a step towards his endgame, creating anticipation and tension. He's not picking off kids one by one for no reason. Rising action is good for plots. Other horror writers of the time should have taken note.
That's ultimately one of the big ideas I'm left with after watching this film. Why didn't this film have more of an impact than it did? Why is it so obscure? Why is it not a major cult classic? The only answer I can think of is that too many people had the same expectations as I did before seeing this film. Everything about the way it looks on the outside makes it seem like it's just another gimmicky cash-in slasher of the time; nothing special. Maybe if it wasn't advertised so strongly on the New Years gimmick it would have a larger cult following. Whatever the case, you absolutely have to trust the old cliché in this case and do not judge this film just by the cover. It's a hidden gem.
An eeeevilll killer (played by Kip Niven) phones the host of a music
television show threatening to claim a new victim as midnight heralds
the New Year in each time zone.
Fans of L.A. band Shadow (if there are any) rejoice: here you get to see the band perform numerous bad new-wave/punk songs while a bunch of brain-dead morons pogo and mosh excitedly in the audience. You also get several lame murders performed by a killer who calls himself 'Eeeeevilll', a woman fast approaching her forties dressing like a teenager, a pill-popping kid who pulls a red stocking over his head before piercing his ear (?), Teri Copley's tits, psychiatric patients celebrating New Year, a biker gang invading a drive-in, and a fun final act in which the ageing TV show host (Diane 'Blaze' Sullivan, played by Roz Kelly) is suspended from the bottom of an elevator by the killer.
Although New Year's Evil is sorely lacking in creatively bloody kills (don't expect any Savini-style gore effects in this one), the film proves moderately entertaining nonsense thanks to its hilarious '80s music and fashion plus a healthy serving of cheeze, with Niven's cool, identity-switching character being absolutely hilarious (love the wonky, glued on moustache!). The frequent musical interludes do get a tad tedious after a while, a fact not helped by the sheer lousiness of the songs, but on the whole this is a passable slice of retro-slasher silliness and a neat reminder of a time that taste forgot.
A madman vows to murder someone at the stroke of midnight in each time
zone in 'New Year's Evil'. Roz Kelly plays a 'Blaze', a famous punk
music icon who is hosting a New Years Eve bash at a large hotel. During
her television broadcast that night, a callers phones in and says he
will kill someone each time the clock strikes midnight around the
world. So that means that every hour on the hour, someone is getting
killed. This isn't a whodunit slasher film, we know the killer's
identity from the start. The movie follows him around as he stalks
various women in Los Angeles, making sure he records each murder on a
tape recorder. He calls Blaze after each murder and plays the tape
leaving her frightened. Eventually, he makes his way to where she is at
the hotel leading to a bit of a disappointing ending.
Call me crazy, but I really enjoyed this film. enjoyed it so much so, that it's become a tradition to watch it during the holiday season. I've always loved holiday horror, and 'New year's Evil' delivers. It is full of eighties cheese; the lights, the music, the hair - all of it. And the plot is actually interesting AND original! Having him murder at midnight in each time zone was smart, and it set 'New Year's Evil' a part from other forgettable slashers made at this time. The stalking scenes with the killer was done well too. He disguises himself before each murder, and makes his way around LA to different places (a bar, a drive in movie theatre) to collect his next victim. Some of the scenes with his next victims are pretty tense, and you feel for the women.
Where 'New Year's Evil' fails is with the killer's motive. They give a lame explanation, and I think the whole movie would have been better with a different motive. There is also the sub-plot with Blaze's son, who is clearly deranged. It is never fully explained what is wrong with him. Oh and the ending was sort of disappointing too. But other than that, this is a holiday horror film that all horror fans MUST check out at least once!
Happy New Year! :D
This is one of my favorite bad 80's slasher flicks with bad acting and an even worse script. Diane Sullivan, aka Blaze, a television vj hosts a New Year's Eve rock concert. When she isn't working her middle aged, unattractive self onstage, a psycho is calling her everytime he kills someone when New Year's strikes in each US time zone. The director has no desire to hide the killer's face, it's his motive for killing that's the mystery here. If you can't figure out who he really is, you'll be kicking yourself for not figuring it out earlier or because you actually sat through New Year's Evil in its entirety. The average viewer will hate this movie because it is inept, not scary, or bloody or exciting. Lovers of bad 80's slashers can sit back and enjoy this silly horror flick which boasts bad acting, non-believable situations (killer vs. bike gang), and an array of ugly, comical characters (Grant Cramer of Killer Klowns as one of them). If anything, its most redeeming feature is a typical 80's heavy metal theme song that you can rock out to at least three times during the film! (e-mail me if you know where I can find it!)
... and thus I give it a 7/10 rating among its genre, that being the
slasher/horror films of the 70's and 80's. This is not a 7/10 when you
compare it to an A-List film from the same year such as "Raging Bull".
The worst of these slasher films are practically biology lessons as hot
to trot teens in some remote location find themselves being bumped off
one by one by some unknown lunatic with a literal ax to grind. These
films are boring and predictable. That's where this one is different,
even with a cast so anonymous you have to wonder why they bothered
giving their characters names different from their actual names.
The primary character is a red-headed buxom D.J. who looks north of 30 but MUST be north of 35 since she has a grown son, which she ignores completely and probably has for a long time - she is very self involved, and tonight on New Year's Eve she is supposedly going to get her big break if she can pull off hosting a rock and roll New Year's Eve celebration. It's a phone in show, and at 9PM she get's a phone call telling her that this is EVIL and he has just killed someone close to her and intends to kill someone every hour on the hour until midnight - when he intends to kill her.
At first our self-involved D.J. blows this off as a crank, but when the calls keep coming and bodies start piling up, she and the police become increasingly concerned. You see the killer right from the start as he runs around L.A. killing random strangers in rather novel ways, but the twist in this film is you have no idea who he is and why he has a bone to pick with the D.J. The killer has his own problems along the way, and this film gives you a good idea of just how rough L.A. was even 35 years ago, as the killer runs into some characters who are as bad as he is, and plus there are more of them.
On the dance floor of the New Year's Eve rock show, the dancers are shown moving like mindless zombies among the fog. These guys and gals do not look like Rotarians, so when the police say rather late in the film "I wouldn't be surprised if he walked right up on the dance floor and killed you", I had to wonder - how do you know he isn't already there? There is plenty of suspense right up to the end that still leaves you hanging, and I recommend it if you are a fan of the low budget horror genre. So transport yourself back to not a simpler time, but a different one - when phones still had cords, when there were still drive-in movies, when people still smoked in public places even in California, and when electronic devices were large enough to be shorted out with a screwdriver rather than being controlled by one self-contained microchip.
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