Blu-ray Review: New Year’s Evil

People in Los Angeles get to celebrate New Year’s Eve four times as the clock hits midnight through four time zones. The party starts at 9 p.m. with the ball dropping in Times Square and ends at midnight when the guests hit the floor at Bill Cosby’s house. Four times in the night they get to countdown, throw confetti, clink champagne glasses and kiss. What a wonderful way to spend the night unless there’s a serial killer in the mix. New Year’s Evil presents a horrific year changing party with a rockin’ ’80s new wave soundtrack.

Blaze (Pinky Tuscadero on Happy Days‘ Roz Kelly) is all geared up as hostess to her network’s version of Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year. She’s got a packed house of partying kids in Los Angeles ready to slam dance. She’s the first lady of rock and roll so this is her night to make sure the kids at home feel the party through the television. Things are looking to be fun until Blaze takes a call on the air to find out how the party people are doing across America. The lucky caller has a shocking New Year resolution. He’s going to kill someone close to Blaze at midnight. Talk about a party pooper not named Ryan Seacrest. This isn’t merely a crank call since we see the caller kill someone just before he dials his favorite show. It’s a mystery stabbing movie. He’s primed to drop his victims with each countdown. Blaze can’t stop her show since the kids need it. There’s plenty of suspects for the masked killer including Blaze’s son who has secret obsessions.

The film is pure ’80s kitsch. There’s plenty of punk stereotypes and new wave boppers. The fashions are beautifully over the top. What’s amazing about this film is that neither of the bands became minor musical stars. Made in Japan and Shadows work well in the film as the bands. Do not confuse Made In Japan with the English new wave band Big In Japan. Made In Japan was so unmemorable that a band from Australia took their name in 2009 and nobody was confused.

New Year’s Evil is a charming mix of glitter and blood. There’s quite a few good stunts including when Blaze gets cornered in the elevator shaft. The movie still scares even after the holiday has passed. Roz Kelly seems like the kind of woman who would have hosted a New Year’s Eve special. New Year’s Evil works for every night of the year.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the wildness of a Los Angeles going from disco to punk. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 although it sounds mono. But that doesn’t ruin the sound of Made in Japan. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary with director Emmett Alston recounts the film and his career. He’s rather quiet at the start. Interviewer Bill Olsen does a fine job of getting Emmett to open up.

Call Me Eeevil (37:18) gives a great sense of what it was like to make a horror film for Cannon in three weeks. Director Emmett Alston got his start in filmmaking as a combat photographer in South Vietnam. This might be the most dangerous film school of the ’70s. The most exciting news is that they made a Pinky Tuscadero pilot. Why isn’t this a bonus episode on a Happy Days boxset?

New Year’s Evil deserves a place next to Halloween and Christmas Evil in your horror holidays collection. The film delivers with thrills at the count of midnight on each time zone.

Scream Factory presents New Year’s Evil. Starring: Roz Kelly, Kip Niven, Chris Wallace, Grant Cramer and Louisa Moritz. Rated: R. Running Time: 90 minutes. Released: February 24, 2015.

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