Retro Rewind: NEW YEAR'S EVIL

New Year’s Evil

1980

Slasher

Welcome everyone to debut edition RETRO REWIND, a look back on the horror genre we all know and love. With each entry, I will be looking at films that have both defined the genre or those that deserve a second look. Yes, this is a retrospective, but unlike most, this is meant to be fun, much like the films are. I have a list of rules to keep these uniform, which are as followed:

  1. The film must be legally old enough to drink

  2. Positivity is key. Even if the film is terrible, they’re supposed to be fun and I want to have as much fun watching and writing these as possible.

  3. I will recommend how I believe you should view it: Own It, Rent It or Stream It

So without further ado, I present to you my very first film in the series, 1980’s cleverly titled, New Year’s Evil!. Spoilers, of course, to follow.

New Year’s Evil takes place, oddly enough, on New Year’s Eve, as we connect with Punk Rock DJ/VJ (it’s never really clear) Diane “Blaze” Sullivan (Roz Kelly), as she is putting together a NYE show and fundraiser. She is bombarded with obscene phone calls by a man calling himself EEEEEVVVVVVIIIIILLLL, who promises to kill a “Naughty Girl” when the clock strikes midnight in each time zone. His promises come true, as he kills Blaze’s best friend Yvonne, a nurse, two party girls (one of which was possibly an accident, we never find out), with Blaze to be his last victim. What sets this apart from other slashers at the time is, we see the killer’s face from the get-go! He is a pretty attractive man, which makes it easy for him to connect with these “Naughty Girls” easier, as a night of partying in 80s Los Angeles did not bring out the best in people. EEEEVVVVVVIIILLLLL is on a roll, though I must admit, I thought he was killing people in each time zone when I first saw this at a way too young age. It became clear to me this time that he is just killing people in LA at 9, 10, 11 and midnight.

But there’s a twist that would make even M. Night Shyamalan blush; EEEEEVVVVVIIIIILLL (yes, I am going to keep calling him that with differing ways of spelling it) is actually Blaze’s estranged husband Richard, who has spent time in an asylum. As he tries to kill his wife (after five minutes of pretending he isn’t going to), Richard falls to is death from the top of the building, right as the clock strikes midnight. Cruel irony or artsitc statement? You decide.

Oh God, I almost forgot their son, Derek, who has completely adopted his father’s mannerisms, threatening himself in a mirror and putting on what I believe is his mother’s pantyhose over his head. Anyway, this plot point is very small but very funny to watch.

Best Kill: With only six deaths, New Year’s Evil is a classic example of an early slasher, which, believe it or not, did try and focus more on scares and plot than deaths (those come much later in the 80s). The best kill, I would say, goes to Sally, one of the party girls EEVVVIIIILLLL (okay, I’ll stop) picks up. None of the kills are spectacular, but this one is pretty visceral and calls back to Black Christmas.

Best Moment: There are so many. As nonsensical and by the numbers as the film is, it is a chalk-full of hilarious moments. I am torn between the New Year’s Evil song that plays hilariously throughout the movie and the group of punks who violently threaten the event ticket taker just for asking for their tickets (because they’re punks, of course). I think I’m going to choose the former because, well, the song is amazing and, though this is considered a “punk rock” movie, this song is as far from punk as possible but so, so catchy.

Rating: Rent It. New Year’s Evil is known by diehard genre fans for its ridiculous premise and badass soundtrack, but no one would ever place it in the higher echelon of slasher/80s horror flicks. However, it is a lot of fun and definitely needs to be seen at least once, especially if you’re planning on drinking every time the world “EVIL” is said or sung (which is 14, by the way). It might not have re-watchability to own for some, so Rent it is.

So join me in two weeks, as I continue this series with another horror film from the past. Each entry, I’ll be giving a clue as to what the next film will be. So be a doll and join me next time!