Directed by Emmett Alston
Cast: Roz Kelly, Kip Niven, Chris Wallace, Grant Cramer, Louisa Moritz, Jed Millis, Taaffe O’Connell
MGM Limited Edition / Region 1 / Rated R / 1.85:1 widescreen / 86 minutes
Disc Extras: Trailer
I love the back blurb for this limited edition DVD of New Year’s Evil. Here it is verbatim: “Lonely women on New Year’s Eve become easy prey for a misogynistic maniac whose resolution is to kill.” That’s it! I picture someone stuffed in a cramped office after writing thousands of blurbs for re-released movies, and New Year’s Evil finally comes along, and the person says screw it. It is what it is. And I think that’s a good way to categorize New Year’s Evil. It’s a sub-par ’80s slasher flick. It is what it is.
I’ll expand on the blurb, because there is more of a story here. A female punk rocker personality hosts a New Year’s Eve party at a hotel. Start in the cool punk rock music from the ’80s. The personality gets a call from a madman who tells her someone will be killed at midnight. Considering he’s murdering at midnight for each time zone, the killings add up. From here, the slasher equation is changed a bit. We know the killer’s identity from the get-go. He’s a holier than thou, self-righteous psychotic who floats from New Year’s party to New Year’s party finding women who are immoral and offs them. The punk rocker personality is the wraparound story here between the random killings. There is a small twist at the end about the killer you didn’t quite see coming, but it’s not shocking enough to make this film more than just mediocre.
There are no particularly gory killings. Knowing the killer’s identity early on is a bit of a buzzkill too. What we do get is a bit of sleazy atmosphere during a few of the kills that delivers a solid dose of ’80s horror nostalgia. You do get a ridiculous red herring, because we already know who the killer is, and this herring is actually pretty damn funny. So I can’t totally dismiss New Year’s Evil, because it’s not the worst ’80s slasher out there. If you can forgive the anemic quality of the movie, you might get a sliver of enjoyment for the mood it evokes, especially if you’re a ’80s slasher enthusiast. For everyone else, this one should be avoided.
MGM once again only offers a measly trailer for extras. The only reason I purchased this was for the updated re-mastering. I was concerned getting that warning before the movie started that the company did their darndest to find the best materials they could locate. That usually means it’s not a great transfer, but in this case, this is the best the film has ever looked. Colors are crisp, though in a few of the dark scenes, you can tell some sub-part sources are used. The sound quality is slightly better than VHS, but overall, it’s a pretty good release. I recommend this for collectors, but for everyone else, you’ll probably want to avoid this less notable title in the slasher pantheon. As a special note, this is a DVD-R, so it’ll only play on certain devices.