‘New Year’s Evil’ is Not Very Scary, but Loads of Fun Anyway (Review)
Written by: Tera Kirk
Directed by: Emmett Alston
Cast: Roz Kelly, Kip Niven, Chris Wallace, Grant Cramer, Louisa Moritz
It’s New Year’s Eve, and “the first lady of rock” Blaze (Roz Kelly, The Owl and the Pussycat, Full Moon High) is hosting a televised punk rock party in a Los Angeles hotel. People can call in to request favorite songs, vote for the most popular songs of the year, or threaten to kill someone when it strikes midnight in each of the country’s four time zones.
The cops think the would-be murderer, who calls himself “Evil,” is just some harmless weirdo with a voice modulator. But then it’s midnight in Manhattan, someone’s been killed, and Evil says that Blaze will be his final murder of the night…
A relatively early slasher film from the Cannon Group, New Year’s Evil is more fun than it has any right to be. The movie just isn’t very scary. At one point a cat jumps out of a dumpster–ostensibly to make the audience jump–but the cat is just too cute and the camera focuses on it too closely for the scene to be frightening.
That’s the greatest problem with New Year’s Evil, as well as its saving grace. The killer (Kip Niven, Damnation Alley, The Waltons) is charming, goofy and incredibly entertaining–too darned entertaining to be scary.
Unexpectedly, “Evil’s” face and voice are revealed twenty minutes into the film. His identity is still a mystery, partly because he has a new (paper-thin) disguise for each murder. Was my favorite the porno mustache he glued to his face, or was it his priest getup? (“I’m a man of God, not a man of violence!” Evil proclaims right before stabbing somebody.) He’s not an inhuman force like Michael Myers or completely invisible like the killer in Friday the 13th (whose signature “ki-ki-ki” I heard here a few times.) Evil’s very human presence was refreshing to see.
In fact, Evil is the least weird character in the entire film. There’s the gang of punks who pull a knife on a cop to avoid paying for tickets, the cop who lets them get away with it. And there’s Blaze herself, who is too self-absorbed to notice her son, Derek. As a result of her emotional distance, the writers’ clumsiness or both, Derek’s behavior is somewhere between “obviously meant to be suspect” and “just plain bizarre.” (I still don’t know why he put one of his mother’s stockings over his head.) And as much as I liked Evil as a character, most of his murders are uninspired and his motive is unsatisfying–which disappoints me because I liked him so much.
Without any chills to speak of, New Year’s Evil isn’t a very good slasher. However, it’s an enjoyable movie thanks to its bitchin’ soundtrack and (too) likable villain. It may not be a classic of the genre, but it’s a fun guilty pleasure.
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