In New Year’s Evil, Diane Sullivan, the host of a live New Year’s Eve broadcast gets a sinister phone call from a creep suggesting that he will kill someone when the clock strikes midnight in each time zone. He tells Diane that she will be his final victim. Not knowing what to do or who to trust, Diane decides it’s probably best to just panic.
Roz Kelly (Full Moon High) stars as Diane and Kip Niven (Damnation Alley) as her husband Richard. Neither Kelly or Niven did this New Year’s Evil for the love of the genre nor for anything more than a paycheck and that is evident in their awful performances. Neither one of them utters a convincing bit of dialogue throughout the entirety of New Year’s Evil. And that’s unfortunate, seeing as this could have been better than a total bomb if a little more effort were put into it. As it stands, the film is a disaster.
Setting the film on New Year’s is a gimmick. It’s a gimmick that has worked incredibly well for some films but it does nothing to establish New Year’s Evil as a film that must be pulled out and watched every New Year’s Eve. As far as New Year’s themed horror films go, Bloody New Year is a much better picture. It’s not without its own set of flaws but it’s far more interesting than this dribble.
Emmett Alston (Demonwarp) takes point as director on this 1980 slasher and also co-penned the entirely forgettable script. Like his cast, it doesn’t seem that Alston’s heart was in New Year’s Evil. He doesn’t succeed at bringing anything to the film to elevate it above the level of B-movie trash fest that it has achieved. The script is just as big of a mess as the acting and the direction. All three feed off of one another to create a completely unwatchable and poorly put together film.
New Year’s Evil makes an attempt to create a whodunit type of mystery but the result is laughable. There’s very little question in anyone’s mind as to who the killer is and no one really cares anyway. The audience has nothing invested in Diane or Richard and if they die, that means we won’t have to spend any more time watching them do obnoxious and misguided things.
Beyond the thinly veiled attempt at creating some type of shroud of mystery around the killer’s identity, New Year’s Evil also suffers from terrible pacing. The progression from scene to scene is bland and there are long periods of time with no kill occurring, so there is nothing going on for large portions of the film and that just makes the viewer want to shut this crappy title off and do something else.
Also working to the film’s disadvantage, the body count is way too low. New Year’s Evil only sets itself up for a very limited number of kills by the fact that there are not enough time zones in the U.S. to establish a sufficient body count for a slasher film. From there, the deaths that do transpire are not impressive and not even worth finishing the movie to see. Even the killer’s death is completely bland and totally stupid
New Year’s Evil was clearly working with an extremely limited budget and that shows in every aspect of this film. This is the kind of flick that I would support remaking with a bright young director, a capable cast, a better screenplay, and a decent budget. There are so many things about the original film that a remake could improve upon without even trying and I can’t imagine many horror fans being put off by the idea. It’s not as if New Year’s Evil is not a cherished classic; it is a really bad movie that could serve as a jumping off point and an example of what not to do for a group of talented up and comers.
New Year’s Evil is available to order from Amazon as an MOD (Manufacture on Demand) title. It comes with the original artwork but the disc is printed on a DVD-R. This is the kind of film that only the most die hard of slasher fans need to see and even then, they only need to see it for reference, in case it ever comes up as a trivia question. Stay away.
Director(s): Emmet Alston
Writer(s): Leonard Neubauer, Emmet Alston
Stars: Roz Kelly, Kip Niven
Studio/ Production Co: Cannon Film Distributors
Length: 90 Minutes