New Year’s Evil (1980)

Cannon Films…  You son of a bitch!

It’s been a bit, Cannon.   How have you been, you ol’ salty dog?  Way back at the start of February, we went on a Hospital Massacre together.  I thought I said something wrong to not see you for a while, but here you are to help me wrap up the year.  You’d have almost thought that last week’s Christmas Evil would have been one of yours, but you have a much, much worse mov… er evil – New Year’s Evil!

Oh man…  For about 3 years, I’ve wanted to talk about New Year’s Evil.  It’s actually a movie I enjoy watching at the end of the year.  Is it because it’s good?  Nah.  It’s because it’s actually really dumb and kind of pointless.  But it’s a good mindless numbness I need as Christmas is over and the new year approaches.

Because slashers hit big with Halloween in 1978 of course Cannon had to get in on the action.  Because that’s what they did, right?  Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan were opportunists in the world of filmmaking.  They were goddamn visionaries I tell you.  They saw the holiday themed horror films coming along thanks to ol’ John Carpenter’s brilliance, and said, “Well…  Those dumb fucking kids will go see more of these movies.”

So!  New Year’s Evil.  But they did go one extra mile…  They added some television music video sort of Dick Clark New Year Eve sort of thing with its own theme song!  Yeah, they went out and got some schmuck to write a song called “New Year’s Evil”.  It was performed by a Seattle rock band called Shadow.

Now…  I have some observations about that fact.  First, I like that Cannon and writer Leonard Nieubauer was leaning in on how rock and roll was taking over TV.  MTV wasn’t too far away and things like American Bandstand, The Midnight Special, Night Flight were already on TV.  I also mentioned Dick Clark, so it’s a nice extension of all those things.  Next, the song has the kids going nuts in the movie, and I think was some kind of acknowledgement that these crusty old guys making this movie is hip to the younger generation.

Finally, is it possible they thought that having their own original song would either A) get them more money for the movie by selling a single or soundtrack album or B) garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song?  I really hope the answer is B.  I really, really hope that Cannon thought they were going for an Oscar.

Anyway, I like how this movie starts like it’s the start of some crime flick with a hard music sting and looking at the Los Angeles skyline.  We see Diane “Blaze” Sullivan, played by Roz Kelly, prepping for her big New Year’s Eve show.  She’s a spicy redheaded MILF who’s kind of like a hard rockin’ mom.  Her husband, Richard, was supposed to be in town for the show, but he’s somewhere else trashed.  She’s kind of pissed at him over this.

Meanwhile, her assistant that notified Blaze of her husband’s dipshittery gets ready to go to the show, but someone sneakily opens her hotel room door and kills her.  So, here we are.  The movie is off to a fast start with a murder, an intro to our mature fox, and that original song I really hope was written for the consideration of the Academy.  During the credits, we see a carload of rowdy kids partying and being that general younger generation nightmare that I’m sure Golan and Globus were trying to warn America about.  They are rowdy, shitty, drunk, stoned, no one seems to be doing anything about them.  They are clearly everything that will someday topple our great country and way of life.

But they are exactly the people this movie is made for, so I guess they want these assholes to look terrible but also they want their fucking ticket money.

Derek arrives to deliver his mom some flowers and tell her that he’s scored a sweet part on a television series.  She is busy getting ready to start the show, and she tells him he can tell her all about it at dinner after the show.  Derek seems pretty upset about what he sees as being blown off.  Instead of going to the show, he decides to stay behind to watch on TV and to call his father to wish him a happy New Year.

Blaze’s show is actually kind of a cool idea.  She’s hosting a show celebrating the year’s best “new wave rock songs” and it is timed to celebrate the New Year by time zone.  She’s in L.A., but she’s got surrogates in New York, Chicago, and Aspen, Colorado that will be checked in on as it approaches midnight.  It all ends with the in studio crowd with her in L.A.  I actually quite like this set up and how our killer plays with it.

How does he do that?  Well, he calls into Blaze’s show and uses a voice changer to introduce himself as “EVIL” and claims he will commit murder – of someone she knows and is close to her.  She ignores it and lets Shadow play that nearly Oscar nominated theme for the second time in the last like 7 minutes.  While they play, Blaze goes off stage and tells her show producer to get some cops there because she may have blown off his threat, but he is most definitely not the normal crank caller.  Something about him spooked her but good.

Back where Evil made his call, you can instantly see where this movie begins to fall apart pretty hard.  In his first moments on the phone, his identity is kept hidden, but when it goes back to him, you see his face fully.  You can say that the plot has no way around this, which I will get to momentarily, but it’s actually pretty hilarious that, within minutes, they dump the killer’s mystique.

Evil sneaks into a sanitarium.  He disguises himself as an orderly.  He runs across a blonde nurse  that seems to be straight out of Halloween II, and shares some champagne with her.  He romances the lady a bit.  When the cops show up to talk to Blaze.  They initially say that those types of calls are something she should expect due to the people she appeals to.  She talks to Derek to ask about her assistant, Yvonne, but she was the lady killed at the start of the movie.  He tries to tell her something that he says is important, but she rushes off the phone and he takes some pills and ease that fuckin’ pain of having a foxy famous mama.

Back at that sanitarium, Evil is getting up in that blonde nurse’s business.  He ultimately kills her at the top of the hour – which is midnight eastern time.  Basically, when he says he will commit murder at midnight, he wasn’t kidding.  He’s going to do it every midnight across the country.  When it’s time to collect on that west coast midnight, it’s gonna be someone close to Blaze.  However…

He didn’t really say that was actually his plan.  He just said he was going to kill at midnight and it was going to be someone she knew.  Now he seems to be kind of changing things up and no one seems to be all that bothered by a guy committing to a crime on live television.  The shit do I know?  That said, people do take notice when another nurse finds the lady’s body.

So here’s where things get kind of silly.  You know, the kind of silly that feels like they wrote their script and realized it was only about 27 pages long and that they didn’t have a filmable script.  Instead, what they realized they had was a bunch of scribbles on some toilet paper from the public bathroom where a guy went off and snorted the shit out of some coke and thought about buying a hooker.  Derek’s back at Blaze’s room with a switchblade and a desire to tear up some nylons.  He says weird shit into the mirror and claims he has a mental disorder before putting the nylons over his head and sticks a needle into his ear.  He goes back to watching his mom’s show and tears apart the flowers he brought to her while she dances to some hard rock on stage.

While the cops tell Blaze that her weirdo crank caller is for real, Evil goes on the prowl for his next New Year kill.  He goes to a real happenin’ bar and finds a couple sexy blondes at the end of the bar.  One goes off to dance with a disco beardo and Evil chats up the other.  He says he’s got to leave to go to a party at, heh, Erik Estrada’s place.  He plays off being a business manager and invites her to come along.  He apparently does talk her into coming with him.   She meets him out front, but she’s got her girlfriend with her.  Evil plays it well, but is a little frustrated that two broads to deal with now.

So as Blaze continues her show while Evil has to deal with the chicks.  He realizes he’s gonna miss midnight if he’s not able to find a place to kill these bitches.  The girlfriend asks to make a pit stop, so they go to a liquor store and when she goes to the toilet, he gives her a hundred dollar bill to buy the biggest bottle of champagne she can get.  While the girlfriend is there, he suffocates his original target and leaves the girlfriend behind with the body in the dumpster.  When she looks in the dumpster, Evil lunges out and kills the girlfriend too.

Now dressed as a priest, Evil goes to find his next victim.  He gets some grief from a group of bikers.  While he looks over a picture of a nun that I think he is planning to kill, he accidentally runs into the group of bikers.  He takes off and goes to a drive-in with the hopes of giving the bikers the slip.  However, they show up too.  For some reason we get to see a teenage couple get high and the boy fondle some sweet teen tit, but it’s cool.

Sure.

The bikers follow Evil into the drive-in and one corners him.  He pulls his knife and kills the biker.  To escape, he gets into the teenagers’ car and he takes off with the chick still in the backseat.  But uh-oh…  It’s five minutes until midnight mountain time.  The girl pleads for her life, even offering him money, as well as her body, but he doesn’t want none of that.  Some drunks get in his way and it allows the girl to take off running.  He follows the sound of her whimpers.  Police arrive and the drunks point them in the direction where the shenanigans are going down.  Just as Evil was about to close in on the kill, the cops scare him off.

So…  Evil’s missed the Mountain Time kill.  During the commercial break on the show, the detective helping Blaze makes an announcement saying no one will be allowed into the ballroom.  The kids and hard rock partiers boo him because fuck the police, maaaaan.  The idea is that, clearly, Evil is headed to where she is filming.  They mention that he’s also got a strange psychopathic women issue as each of the women he’s killed have mutilated breasts.

While the cops work on preventing a kid from getting into the building, Evil arrives and looks for a way to get in.  He calls for a cop to help with a drink and he bashes that pig’s head in with a fuckin’ brick.  He takes the cop’s clothes and goes right inside.  Evil finds a trunk he’s placed inside the building and changes clothes again.

Meanwhile, a cop escorts Blaze to her room so she can make an outfit change.  Derek is there and gets mad that she forgot that he was there.  He says he had a surprise for her but now wants nothing to do with it.  Considering the psych dude said that the killer has a breast mutilation thing and that is an indicator that the killer has mommy issues, they are spending time on Derek’s fixation on his mother despite it obviously meaning nothing.  He’s not the killer.  But whatever…

Evil shows up in his latest wardrobe change – no shit, Evil has been in more outfits than Blaze and she’s a foxy television host doing a show that is at least 5 hours long.  Surprise surprise, Blaze’s husband, Richard, is Evil.  Also, apparently, Derek knew his dad was there and that was what the surprise is.  They have normal conversation while she tells Richard about how freaked out she’s been with that Evil fella calling.  He tells the cop escort that her manager okayed him to be in the building, which the cop immediately checks up on.

Now here’s the overarching issue with this entire movie.  Remember I said they fumbled that shit with him and his identity earlier?  While I say that’s kind of a fuck up, I also understand there was hardly any way to avoid it, but man it seems goofy.  Worse, the detective discovers that the car found at the drive-in where a dead biker is belongs to Richard.  Oh, and that kill at the sanitarium?  He was once a patient there.  So he’s crazy, her manager says he always thought that dude was nuts, and we get a real dumb third act surprise.  Ain’t that tidy?

While the cop escorts Blaze back to the show, Evil fucks up the elevator causing it to crash.  He reveals he is the killer.  He says he’s “fed up” because ladies are suck.  Derek says she acts flirty around other men.  Blaze doesn’t give him enough money, because she cucks him on every level.  She turns on their son.  Wah wah wah.

Okay, so Derek appears to be like, I dunno, 25 or something?  When did Derek go to the nuthouse?  Has she never known this dude is a creep?  This is fuck, man.  I would understand if he was Derek’s stepfather and was the new guy in Blaze’s life, but this guy has, for all we know, been the only guy she’s ever been married to.  How do you reckon any of this shit makes sense?  This is what you call a “Cannon Ball Special”.  Cannon because Cannon Films made it.  Special because Cannon Films is definitely special.  Ball because this shit is balls.

Evil has chained Blaze to the bottom of an elevator.  He plans to send her all the way up and then all the way down so she gets smashed by the elevator.  The plan gets ruined by the cops who blow up the controls to the elevator.  Evil takes off for the roof with the fuzz in hot pursuit.  On the roof, Evil puts his mask back on and drops his gun and knife.  He spouts some Shakespeare and jumps off the roof to his death.

I mean, ain’t that some shit?  He kills chicks because vaginas are bad.  He stupidly comes up with a plan to smash Blaze with an elevator which fucks up with little to no concern once the police get involved.  And he jumps off the fuckin’ building.

Oh, and I guess Derek is a fuckin’ nutcase too because he has mommy issues just like his dad.  He also picked up that fucking mask, killed the ambulance driver and drives off with Blaze in the back.  Credits role over the third time we hear that goddamn theme song that was never ever ever gonna get nominated for any kind of award.

I’ve said it before.  I’ll say it again:

Do I like watching this movie?  Yeah, but it’s a really bad movie, but like that fun kind of bad.  There is little to no sense in any of it.  It’s just shit that happens.  We don’t know anything other than there’s a rockin’ New Year’s Eve, a crazy guy calls, the son is a bitch, and the crazy guy is the host’s husband – and he’s also a bitch.  Sure people get killed, but it’s sloppy.  You’ll likely be able to have some fun with this movie in the background like I do.  I can say it is perfectly early 80s though.

Man…  Another year in the books, amirite ladies and gents?  As each calendar year turns over, and I still write this blog, the more I feel like 1) I sure can’t argue that my life kinda sucks, but also 2) I do very much enjoy doing this.  I’m glad you’ve gone with me all this way thus far.  But hey, I’m not done with this blog and I’m not even done with New Year’s bullshit.  Next week, I’m going to kick off 2020 with Bloody New Year, so you know where to be in just seven days!

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