If your New Year’s resolution is to get in better shape or save more money, you’ve probably come to the wrong place. If, on the other hand, you’ve resolved to watch more 80’s horror movies, (and you should, because it will make you a better person) then I’m here to help. While this movie is in no way groundbreaking, it provides pretty much everything you expect from an 80s slasher flick, and, if nothing else, it’s fun to watch. In other words, it’s the perfect way to start your new year off right.
It’s New Year’s Eve and a psychopath named Evil (or “EEEE-VILLE!”) calls celebrity-host Blaze (Roz Kelly, Full Moon High) during the live broadcast of her countdown-type variety show to tell her he plans on committing “MURR-DERR!” at the exact moment the clock strikes midnight in each of the four U.S. time zones. Thinking he’s just a creepy prankster, Blaze hangs up on him, but, true to his word, he calls back later in the show and plays an audio recording of his first victim (Taaffe O’Connell, Galaxy of Terror) getting slashed. Clearly not a prank, the race is on to find the caller before he kills again.
The opening credits roll with the obligatory heavy metal title track (“New Year’s Evil” by Shadow), but unlike most horror-movie rock anthems that sound like the producer let his nephew’s crappy Dokken cover band play their one original song, this one is actually pretty decent. That’s fortunate because a sizable chunk of the movie is filled with live performances from Shadow and another band (Made in Japan) so thankfully the songs are at least pretty catchy.
When Blaze is not out hosting the countdown, she spends most of her time backstage ignoring her son and trading dramatic pauses with a concerned police Lieutenant (Chris Wallace, Don’t Answer the Phone!) who might be Steve Carrell’s dad. All the interactions between these two are pretty stellar but the scene with the police psychologist who sounds like he’s narrating a 1950s educational film about home appliances of the future or venereal disease is worth watching a couple of times so as not to miss any of the subtle bits of “acting”. While all this is going on, we occasionally cut away to see Blaze’s son Derek (Grant Cramer, Killer Klowns From Outer Space) display his anger for his mom, by taking some mystery pills, putting a stocking over his head in a very dramatic fashion, and walking around in sunglasses. I guess the idea is to show that he’s disturbed in a serial-killer-in-training sort of way, but it just comes across as weird and unintentionally awesome.
The killer is played by Kip Niven who was created in a lab by combining the DNA of Bruce Jenner and Robert Urich for the sole purpose of starring in this movie. I’m not giving anything away here as his identity is revealed pretty much from the start, but there is a small twist later in the movie that I won’t divulge, even though it will surprise no one. Evil is, among other things, a master of disguise of both voice and appearance who adopts a variety of identities to nab his victims. The personas he creates seem way more elaborate than necessary, but that’s part of the fun and the few-beats-too-long, fake-mustache-affixing scene is not to be missed. And lest you forget this movie was shot in the 80s, at one point he name-drops Erik Estrada in order to pick up a girl at a bar (Editor’s note: It is in no way possible to forget this movie was shot in the 80s). Overall, Niven does the job of making the killer seem weird, although I’m not sure if it is in the way he intended. The final faceoff between Evil and Blaze (which makes it sound like it’s an episode of American Gladiators) provides some dialogue to elevate the movie’s cheese rating and sort of makes some sense of the plot if you don’t ask too many questions.
I like this movie and think you will too as long as you’re not expecting to be blown away by quality. It’s in no way scary and the gore is pretty tame by slasher standards, but keep in mind it was released when the slasher boom was still in its infancy (just six months after Friday the 13th) so don’t be too hard on it. It’s funny (sometimes intentionally, mostly unintentionally) and I imagine you’ll find a new comedic gem or two in subsequent viewings if you appreciate accidental humor. I could see myself turning it on at a New Year’s Eve gathering with friends once I’m tired of watching the actual countdown shows and someone clever could probably even come up with a New Year’s Evil drinking game. Consuming alcohol while watching this movie certainly couldn’t hurt, so give it a shot!
“I can hear your heart beating…I don’t like that.”