Thursday, August 30, 2012
New Year's Evil (1980)
I was an avid collector of x-rentals as a young man, believe it or not. My apartment - at the time - was filled with thousands of movies, some very rare. I bought tapes from
Sweden, Denmark, and every other country. One
film that always showed up in its Swedish release was Emmett Alston's (who
directed the brilliant, crazy, trasherpiece Nine Deaths of the Ninja) NewYear's Evil, a slasher/thriller/something produced by legendary madmen Golan
& Globus, yes Mr & Mr Cannon themselves. I remember I watched it and
forgot it quickly because of the lack of bloodshed and it wasn't until today
that I saw once again, now on MGM's print-on-demand DVD. Greece
New Year's Evil still lacks that important bloodshed, something that's a very important ingredient in eighties genre cinema, and Cannon has never been afraid of showing some blood and guts. But I have a feeling they wanted to break into the American market with something a bit more classier - and less sleazy and bloody - than the usual by-the-numbers Friday the 13th rip-off (something they totally forgot two years later when they gave birth to the trashiest and silliest slasher ever, X-Ray, starring Barbie Benton). NYE almost succeeds in being a good thriller. The set-up isn't at all actually: a killer (Kip Niven) is murdering himself through the timezones during new year's eve until he reaches the main goal, the rock-queen TV-host Diane who's airing a live show, rock/new wave/punk/goth concert together with an audience of heavily make-upped wannabe-rockers.
The twist and some of the characters is genuinely good, so good it would work to do a remake to make the idea work better. Right now the script strolls along like a senile pedestrian, just stopping from time to time to kill someone - without gore or blood - and then stumble away to the next kill-scene. Make no mistake, everything look nice and proper and the cinematography by Thomas E. Ackerman (who later shot the immortal classic
and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked) looks splendid. The film looks a lot more
bigger and expensive than it probably was. Alvin
Kip Niven, a very competent but slightly forgotten leading man of the seventies - who's agent probably made a couple of very bad choices (lots of flops and increasingly smaller parts in big Hollywood films) - does one of his best, wildest and craziest performances here. What I like about him is that he looks terrible good, but somehow - don't ask me how - he manages to twist his whole appearance so he looks damn ugly when he's going on killing sprees. I guess that's called acting, of course, but I wouldn't have mind seeing him in more baddie-parts instead of just leaving to the land of has-been's. If you read this Kip, remember I think you're awesome. Even Grant Cramer (who later found fame in Killer Klowns From Outer Space) is good as Diane's creepy son.
And talking about the acting, don't miss John Alderman's performance as Dr. Reed, which makes William Shatner look like subtle, low-key, naturalistic actor! I'm surprise they didn't run out of film when they shot his scenes - the pauses in-between the words make up half the dialogue!
I still don't think New Year's Evil is a good movie, but it entertained me more than the first time and it has some wonderful acting and looks stunning. The soundtrack, mostly songs by the bands Shadow and Made in
, is excellent - which is
another reason to revisit this uneven slasher-wannabe. Japan