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Blu-ray Review: New Year’s Evil
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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New Year's Evil Blu-ray from Scream Factory

New Year’s Evil
Blu-ray
Director: Emmett Alston
Screenwriter: Leonard Neubauer
Cast: Roz Kelly, Kip Niven, Grant Cramer, Chris Wallace
Scream Factory
Rated R | 90 Minutes
Release Date: February 24, 2015

Diane “Blaze” Sullivan (Roz Kelly), the host of a nationally televised punk-rock show on New Year’s Eve, is receiving calls from a mysterious killer who tells her of his plans to off someone at midnight in each of America’s major time zones… and she will be the last.

In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom pushed the envelope on screen violence and sexuality. These two films would go on to influence an entire sub-genre of horror: the “Slasher” film. After years of post-Psycho thrillers like Dementia 13 and Corruption, Bob Clark’s 1974 film Black Christmas would emerge as the first true slasher film.

When John Carpenter’s Halloween stabbed its way into theaters in 1978, it became the prototype for the slasher sub-genre, paving the way for hundreds of psychopathic knife-wielding copycats – like New Year’s Evil.

Released seven months after Friday the 13th, 1980’s Evil continued the popular trend of basing slasher flicks around holidays. The plot, which concerns a maniac traveling across the country to murder women in every time zone, is absolutely ridiculous – a silly gimmick to make all the bloodshed more interesting, I guess.

Forget the kills, the most interesting thing about this film is seeing Arthur Fonzarelli’s girlfriend, Carol “Pinky” Tuscadero, as a 37-year-old punk icon who hosts a call-in show called Hollywood Hotline. Sure, I guess I can buy that! And then there’s the killer, Evil (Kip Niven), who looks like the psychotic spawn of Bruce Jenner and Steve Prefontaine.

In a variety of disguises, Evil stalks unsuspecting women and records their murders on his tape recorder. With a voice straight out of Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise, Evil calls into Hollywood Hotline and plays the audio of his victims’ final screams, taunting the police like the Zodiac Killer.

I’d like to tell you that New Year’s Evil is an unsung classic waiting to be rediscovered, but that’s not quite the case. Unfortunately, Alston’s film is remarkably tame. Like so many of those early ’80s slasher films (Prom Night, Final Exam, He Knows You’re Alone), New Year’s Evil isn’t scary enough, or bloody enough, to provide sufficient thrills.

Still, for students of the horror genre, it’s interesting to see these early, bloodless slasher films before the creative, effects-driven kills of films like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street became the driving force in the sub-genre. And for those who are too easily upset by horror films, New Year’s Evil works as a way of tip-toeing into the genre without jumping directly into the deep end of depravity. It’s silly, safe, and altogether harmless. It’s also hilariously dated, so at least you’ll be chuckling during all that groovy new wave mayhem!

Alston’s film comes to Blu-ray with an excellent 1.78:1 1080p transfer that retains a nice amount of grain. In addition to making this forgotten slasher look brand new, Scream Factory uncovers the obscured audio elements with a Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio track. Bonus features on this release include an audio commentary with director Emmett Alston as well as The Making of New Year’s Evil, a new making-of documentary featuring interviews with Kip Niven, Grant Cramer, Taaffe O’Connell, Thomas Ackerman, and more.

New Year’s Evil is now available on Blu-ray at Amazon. Check out the trailer, as well as a scene from the film, below:

Trailer

Bloody Midnight Murder

Behind the Scenes

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