Director – Emmett Alston
Cast – Roz Kelly, Kip Niven, Chris Wallace, Grant Cramer, Louisa Moritz, Jed Mills, Taaffe O’Connell, Jon Greene
Release Year – 1980
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Due to my love for the vastly underrated and under-appreciated Christmas Evil, New Year’s Evil stood out to me as a similar film, and much like Christmas Evil…is also underrated and under-appreciated. Fans of the slasher genre will find all of what they love in such films in this watch, and despite the film’s low budget the get some good horror and one of the genre’s creepiest and nearly unknown killers.
It is New Year’s Eve, and televisions biggest female punk icon, Diane Sullivan(Roz Kelly), is hosting a televised countdown consisting of live music and lots of partying. During the event she accepts a phone call from a listener who claims he will kill one person at midnight for each time zone, ending with her as his last victim. Building security is taking no chances of such an event happening during a live television act, and takes extreme precautions to ensure Diane’s safety. As promised, the body count rises at each hour of midnight across the nation, and despite the security force around her, Diane is in grave danger from a lunatic she would never expect.
Well, I am really glad that I went into this watch with fairly low expectations, as I did with Christmas Evil. Don’t assume that you must go into this film with low expectations in order to enjoy it, I am glad that I did such a thing because it only makes the film more enjoyable, and gives you that “hidden gem” feeling we all love to attain in the horror genre.
Fans of serial-killer/slasher films should find this one enjoyable thanks to our awesome antagonist. Much like Christmas Evil and the original(sad I have to say “original”) Black Christmas, the holiday season brings out the worst in someone, and thankfully that someone decides to hack up a bunch of worthless human beings and put on a show for us horror fans. The very moment we are introduced to the killer in this film I was treated to one of the creepier scenes I have ever seen in a slasher movie. A simple phone call is how we are introduced to the killer, and just from his voice and dictation he sets the eerie mood for the rest of the film, and thankfully…he delivers more and more creepiness as the film goes on. Each kill is creative and enjoyable, and although he comes along a few obstacles in his path to achieving the ultimate New Year’s resolution, he succeeds in giving us what we want to see. I enjoyed the usage of our main protagonists in the film, Diane Sullivan and her neglected son Derek Sullivan(Grant Cramer). Diane is a self-centered woman who believes that she must act as an icon with everyone even though only her cohorts view her as such, and she delivers brash and cold treatment to those around her, including Derek. This leads us to not root for the character of Diane, but instead root for the killer, which we rarely see purposely employed in the genre, but is nonetheless an idea that I love to see. We see Derek’s pain as he deals with the fact that his mother is not really a mother to him, and this is made even more awesome during the film’s climax, which Derek plays an awesome part in.
Director Emmett Alston did a great job adapting his story to the screen and delivering the great horror I just mentioned. His execution of the killer is amazing, and despite not being the most accomplished director he gets a great performance out of actor Kip Niven, who has just earned a spot in my list of under-appreciated actors. The kill sequences are well executed, and we get some fair gore thrown in as well, which is always a nice touch. On an overall basis the gore level is fairly low for a slasher film, but in all honesty…this is not about the gore, but about the violent nature of our awesome killer, and the depravity he endures to complete his “resolution”, which in my opinion is scary as hell.
Overall, this is a very underrated and under-appreciated watch that thanks to great direction and a good story delivers one of the creepiest killers I have ever seen. Adorned with great kills and fantastic execution all around, this is one slasher film that should be required viewing for fans of the slasher sub-genre.