A hybrid of New York Ripper, Don’t Answer the Phone! and Black Christmas, New Year’s Evil combines the mouth-breather phone harassment elements of all three, with the time-sensitive release of the latter.
Yet another in a long line of calendar-dependent horror films (Mother’s Day, Hospital Massacre, aka, Be My Valentine, Or Else…, Halloween, Silent Night, Deadly Night) New Year’s Evil also tapped into the nascent New Wave music scene, and unlike some of its ridiculous brethren, actually acquits itself quite well as far as music is concerned. The title track is simply outstanding, with a drop-D tuning riff that could be Jimmy Page, that lilts into operatic Phantom of the Paradise territory.
So what if the film can’t strike the same musical chord, quality-wise.
The plot? Some sicko with mommy issues is hunting down the host of a New Year’s eve special, along with other victims, and killing them according to the stroke of midnight across multiple time-zones. That in of itself is a pretty nifty idea.
But unlike back-end loaded denouements, New Year’s Evil reveals its hand off the bat: we all see the killer (a young-ish looking Bruce Jenner-type). However, we don’t know WHO exactly he is or what his motivations are…
Since this is a Cannon Group production, New Year’s Evil supplies us with scenes that are so tonally off, they’d require a tuning fork. To wit: a bunch of mental patients getting down to the sounds of Shadow, the band ripping through New Year’s Evil, and the inmates all wearing straitjackets!
The kills are fairly pedestrian, but like Black Christmas there’s a pretty substantial plastic bag asphyxiation scene. And like New York Ripper and Don’t Answer the Phone!, the killer disguises his voice as he makes threatening calls.
Ultimately though, you’ll hang up on this one.
** (out of 5)
[Check out our New Year’s Evil podcast discussion!]