When a creepy caller phones into a pledge drive show and says “I’m going to commit murder” (admitttedly, we’ve all contemplated this when PBS incessantly interrupts its programming for one of their interminable pledge-drives) we know we’re dialing up a typical slasher flick.
Blaze, a punk rock singer, is stalked by the caller while her band and another, Shadow, perform a club on December 31. The latter, a New York Dolls-esque outfit who also play slow 12-bar Chicago blues for some reason, have a hit called New Year’s Evil which is bad enough to resolve to never want to hear it again.
Anyway, an unknown assailant with a penchant for wearing disguises when he kills (doctors, cops, priests…basically anyone who’d be a premise for a joke) is on the loose and the LAPD is flummoxed. At one point the lead detective, expasperated says “Same MO, eh?” What kind of cops are they? The killer couldn’t be more flexible. He uses a knife, a bag to asphyxiate, different locales, sometimes stages bodies, at other times leaves them abruptly. It’s not the same MO at all!
At one point the killer pretends to work in show business and name-checks Erik Estrada from CHiPs to impress a woman in a bar. If that isn’t the mark of a psychopath…
New Year’s Evil has great atmosphere, a few surprises and a handful of chills but is notable for two things: a near-death by chained elevator shaft suspension and a killer who quotes Hamlet.
Let the countdown begin….
*** (out of 5)