Bloody New Year (1987)

Happy Bloody New Year (a few days late), my Enemaniacs!

You might be wondering, “Geoff, what’s up with all this festive cheer and shit?”  Well, don’t worry, fellas and lady fellas…  I just had to clear some slates before I got buried beneath a load of movies I always want to write about but don’t have a particularly perfect timing to do so.  Besides, this does check a couple extra boxes for me:

  1. Another Vinegar Syndrome release
  2. Another Norman J. Warren joint

So yeah, as you might have picked up by reading this blog over the past couple years, I buy a TON of Vinegar Syndrome releases.  They are a marvelous purveyor of cult classics, nearly forgotten gems, and exploitation.  These are things I am particularly in favor of.  So I had to help clear some of that backlog before I can get to some of the other finds I’ve picked up at various conventions and what have you.

Bloody New Year is one I’ve seen a few times over the past handful of years.  I think prior to Vinegar Syndrome picking it up for release, its rights were probably in some pretty murky gray market waters because it was easily attainable for view on the YouTubes and various other Roku channels featuring horror and culty classics.  In fact, many of Warren’s movies were put into my eyeballs thanks to various Roku channels.  I’ve already covered Warren twice before with Terror and Prey – both of those are also Vinegar Syndrome releases as well.  Another VS release that will be on the docket this year, Satan’s Slave, and maybe my favorite of all his movies, Inseminoid, are definitely on the docket for 2020.

To say I’m a fan would be selling it short.

Something else I’m a big fan of, if I do say so myself, is a real goofy and ill-fitting theme song to get things started in a movie.  This movie has this lovely little 80s tune by Cry No More called “Recipe for Romance”.  This is a band I have no history of prior to seeing this movie for the first time, and this is maybe the catchiest little tune ever – but in a horror movie.  Check it out:

I have to wonder if this was just a thing in the 80s.  There is this other song that is super ill-fitting for a horror movie.  The movie is The Mutilator (and, man, I may have to someday get to that stinker fart) and the song is “Fall Break” by Peter Yellen and The Breakers.  What Peter’s Yellen about I couldn’t say, but if you wanna know a thing or two about that song, check it out below:

Anyway, let’s get back to Bloody New Year because I don’t wanna talk any more about The Mutilator.  Though, I do have to wonder if Warren saw that movie and thought, “I like that song.  Is there a group over here that can get me one of those funtime rockin’ songs for my next horror movie?”

Sadly, Bloody New Year would prove to be Warren’s final full length movie.  In the 21st century, he did do a few shorts, but no more features.  He made nine in all, and I do have every intention to do all of them.  I’ve been able to find a couple online, but I plan to knock them all out on B-Movie Enema.  But before we get too long in the introduction, let’s dive into Bloody New  Year!

The movie opens with some good old fashioned black and white 8mm film of a rockin’ New Year’s party.  It appears to be 1959/about to be 1960.  The party runs through the credits with that bitchin’ Cry No More song.  As the movie begins in earnest, it’s considerably wound down.  People have celebrated and gone home.  Left behind is a single lady.  Alone in the dance hall after everyone’s gone  home, she checks her hair and makeup in the giant mirror.  As she is about to touch the mirror to rest on it, her own hand pulls her through it.

Jump-cut to the present so we can meet our present day group of saps… er I mean heroes…?  Before we get too much into these dopes, er, I mean, ah fuck it…  I need to say I really liked that opening scene.  I REALLY liked the shock of the girl’s own hand pulling her through the mirror.  That was awesome.

Alright, so now, in the present, we have five friends – the couples Lesley and Tom and Rick and Janet, and then to round out the group, Spud.  Spud is a prick.  He tries to help get sunscreen on Lesley while Tom is right fucking there.  Anyway…  He decides to go to the fair happening on this island.  The others follow later, but Spud sees these hooligans fucking with this American girl, Carol, on a spinny spin spin ride thing.  Spud gets his mates, Tom and Rick, and decide to chase off the hooligans.

They are only successful when, with no help of the ride’s operator who thinks Spud and Rick are causing the trouble, Tom pulls a circuit out of the ride’s transformer causing the toughs and the operator flying off the spinny ridey thingy.  Rick gets Lesley and Janet and take off running.  They have to hide in the funhouse.  They ultimately escape when Lesley drives their car and hitched boat through the fucking funhouse.

That…  That seems like an awful lot of damage for trying to stop these dicksticks from messing with an American tourist.  Not to mention…  The ride’s operator was IN ON THE SHENANIGANS WITH THE FUCKING DICKNIBBLES!

They go off sailing on their boat, but hit something unexpected.  the boat is taking on water big time.  Tom tells everyone to bail because the boat is sinking.  Lesley can’t swim.  Janet is freaking the fuck out.  Rick is being a dick about Janet freaking out.  This group kinda sucks!  They cause ride operators at the fair to want to try to murder them, and now they can’t even use a boat in the middle of what I can only guess is the English fucking Channel.

So now, our waterlogged “heroes” are on the island where the spooky New Year’s party happened during the credits and rockin’ theme song.  When they get inside, they see everything is still decorated for Christmas.  However, it’s not rotting or dusty or seemingly falling apart.  It’s all fresh.  There are no employees or power at the hotel.  Lesley does find someone peering into a window she opens the shudders for, but he, like, runs away immediately.  Tom goes to check it out, but doesn’t find anything or anybody.

Elsewhere, Spud and Carol start a fire.  She’s still shivering so Spud goes off to find a blanket for her.  Suddenly, down the stairs comes a ghostly maid  carrying a blanket.  She gives Carol the blanket and tells her not to worry about the others – they’ve been taken care of, which is something I don’t think you’d really want to hear an old English maid say.

I like her bow. Makes her even cuter.

Sexy Janet is taking a bath and someone appears in the reflection at the doorway.  When she looks, she doesn’t see anyone and no one answers when she calls out to find out who is there.  Also, uh-oh Spaghettios, the hose thing that you can use to spray off soap and stuff moves on its own.  Anyway, Rick pops up behind her and makes out with her, because no duh, she’s a mega cutie and wearing a cute bow in her hair.

Elsewhere, Spud is wandering about alone and hears music playing.  He goes to look at the stage from where the spotlights are stationed and sees two members of the band Cry No More playing a song.  They suddenly disappear and the music stops.  All Spud has to say about this is, “weird.”  Ya think, bud?

In one of the rooms, Janet and Rick finds some clothes of the 1959 people at the party.  When Janet puts on the dress, she looks in the mirror and sees a girl in the same dress looking back at her.  Instead of exclaiming, “Gh-gh-gh-GHOST!” like a normal person, Janet doesn’t say anything.  Rick even gives her an out by saying, “Oy it looks like you seen a ghost!”  She still doesn’t say anything.  That’s odd, don’t ya think?

In the pool room, Lesley asks Tom if he’s ever thought about what it might be like to do it on a snooker table.  He doesn’t catch on until she’s a little more obvious and he’s like, “Pfft…  Lesley!  What you thinkin’?”  Now, far be it for me to argue with the great Norman J. Warren, but these characters seem pretty weird.  They may have casually murdered people at a fair.  Tom is fairly cool with his boat getting sunk and them getting stranded on an island with a spooky hotel decorated for the Holidays in July.  Janet literally sees a ghost and says nothing.  Lesley wants to fuck on a pool table and Tom is like, “nah, let’s find me mates and the fuse boxes, oy!”  Tom is such an idiot that when Lesley literally tackles him to fuck him in the nasty ass basement and he’s still not into it.

Anyway, they finally get the fuses to work and everything goes nuts.  A vacuum runs on its own, a battery operated Santa comes to life.  Everyone is happy and willing to take other people’s shit so they can get into dry clothes.  What they don’t see, and this is kind of awesome, is a TV that is playing live television from December 31, 1959.  On the TV, though, is the really important thing about the hotel and the reason for why things are the way they are.  There is an experimental jet on a test run.  It can bend light and possibly time travel.  The jet was going to start its experiment in the wee hours of the morning on January 1, 1960.  It was going to go full on invisible for a full minute.  This likely caused everything to go goofy and how all the partiers at the beginning of the movie simply vanished.  That’s some seriously high concept stuff and potentially could be very, very cool for a story.

But fuck that!  Let’s dress up in 50s clothing and drink, motherfuckers!

L-R: Carol, Spud, Rick, Janet, Tom, and Lesley

They hear the hotel’s theater playing Fiend Without a Face to no audience.  They don’t even see a projectionist to tell him it can be shut off.  When the movie ends, another movie starts up which shows a some past guests at the hotel.  In the projection booth, some film wraps around Rick’s leg.  As Spud mocks the guy in the film, he suddenly jumps out of the movie and attacks him.  The ghost scratches and kills Spud and then jumps into the projection booth making the projector short out and Rick to fall from having his legs wrapped up.

Janet freaks out and runs outside.  She tries telling Rick what everyone saw, but he doesn’t buy it.  Worse, Tom also sides with Rick.  While he runs after Janet, Lesley and Tom find another building on the island and they knock on the door to see if they have a telephone.  As Lesley knocks, the door opens and she falls into some netting and has a total freak out.  As she thrashes about, the fishing hooks scratch and cut her until Tom is finally able to get her out.  When she goes over to the table to tend to her wounds a table monster (I… I don’t know what else to call it) jumps out and attacks her.  Tom is able to fight it with a harpoon but he gets attacked from behind.

Elsewhere, Rick has finally caught up with Janet, but someone is watching them from the trees.  She seems much, much better now after Spud’s horrific death.  They hear people laughing outside but can’t find anything.  All they see are trees and bushes jostling.  then something chases them through the yard Evil Dead style.  It’s trippy as shit, man.  While they are running away and seemingly are scared by whatever is chasing them and the disembodied laugh track, I still am not sure these people are human.  I don’t know if they even care anymore that one of their friends, albeit the shitty one, is dead.  I understand they can’t get off the island because they have no boat or other way to get out, but it all still seems pretty odd.  They even see footprints appear and disappear on the beach and don’t seem all that bothered by it.

I know that every movie has to have a plot hole or something that doesn’t seemingly line up properly in order for some things to actually work out, but this is a really strange movie in the sense that the main characters are not really human.  They can’t be.  A regular, non-lizard person would totally question just about everything more than a couple lines from Janet about hearing the laughter but not being able to see anything.  It’s so bizarre that there are several instances that someone, anyone, can just say something about what they see or how they feel and it would not only heighten the fear from everyone, but give some stakes.  When there are no stakes because people act like crazy people, or those people are totally gaslit so easily by the other characters, I don’t know what to feel or how to approach anything with the story and plot.

And sure, maybe you can say this was trippy and almost stream of consciousness in how dreamlike and nightmarish everything is, but it’s hard to translate that stuff when everyone experiences something truly, totally crazy, but no one can verbalize what they saw or all come together to realize weird shit is happening to all of them.  You know them Nightmare on Elm Street movies?  In every goddamn one of those movies, there comes a scene in which all the kids sit down and talk about the strange dreams they are having.  They don’t all agree that it is more than just coincidence, but they all at least know the weird shit is happening to more than just themselves.

This movie has gone nearly two thirds of the way at this stage and they haven’t had that scene.  That scene that ties everyone together onto the same plot thread.

So everyone does reconvene because Tom got attacked by the table monster or something else.  When Lesley found Carol, Rick, and Janet, did she say that she got attacked and nearly choked out by a table monster?  No.  No she did not.   It doesn’t matter, though, because when they go to the little shack, the ride operator that was chasing them earlier suddenly shows up.  Now…  And I cannot stress this enough…  I can’t fully explain what happens next.

Rick and the guy fight for a minute.  Then he, Carol, and Janet run away.  Lesley is now left with the carney.  This is what happens.

I didn’t edit that.  Spinny twirly ride operator punches Lesley…  THROUGH Lesley, and then she is a monster and she picks him up and throws him out of the building to his death off a cliff.  What the what?!?  This wasn’t an illusion.  It wasn’t a dream.  It happened.  Lesley is a monster lady.  They escape her by Rick tossing the net onto her and then tossing a flare onto it.

I don’t make this shit up, kids.  I just report on it.

So we’re left with the American girl, the one that freaks out about everything, and the jerk boyfriend of the girl who freaks out about everything.  I do like that Janet makes the suggestion that maybe, just maybe, if they stay behind and be real quiet, maybe the ghosts will leave them alone.

That was actually said in the movie.

Carol, because Americans are the tits, says that probably wouldn’t be very likely.

That was something else actually stated in this movie.  Again, I don’t make this shit up.  I’m just here to give you the play-by-play of it all.

One of the main ghosts stalking everyone, and the one that Lesley saw early on after arriving at the hotel, is a pilot.  He’s the guy flying the experimental jet in 1959/1960.  At one point, Janet and Rick heard the plane overhead and saw the explosion as it crashed.  So there is definitely some kind of time displacement happening.  Now, why are they monsters and not just people who have lost time?  Beats me, but that’s what’s going on here.

The trio goes back to the hotel and plan to lock themselves inside…?  I’m 100% positive that’s a terrible idea.  But that’s what they do.  They hear a knock on the door and Lesley saying, “Hey!  Let me in!  I’m scared out here!”  Janet nearly goes for the door but Carol holds her back.  After they lock themselves in, the toughs from the fair come bust in and try to mess with everyone and, in particular, Janet, but monster Lesley also busts in and takes one guy’s head and spins it around like a bottle cap and eventually breaks his neck while poor, cute Janet has to watch in utter fear.  As she goes down stairs to get away from Lesley, one of the birds at the end of the banister grabs hold of her.  As Lesley approaches to, I dunno, kill Janet?  Probably kill Janet…  Rick shows up with a fucking rifle and shoots Lesley with a diarrhea fart bullet!

Kids, I don’t make this up.  I just provide commentary.  I can only assume that was a misfired squib or something but goddamn it’s funny.  They went with it too.  They just let it rip.

Now, Tom returns all messed up.  He’s babbling on about Lesley and being careful.  Janet has two little bites on her arm from the wooden monster thing from the stairs.  I’m sure that can’t be great.  Rick and Carol go to find the boat the hooligans rode in on while Janet barricades her and Tom into a room in the hotel.  Rick goes after the jet pilot following them and when they find him, he’s made a camp with a bunch of shards of mirrors hanging from strings.  There’s a radio talking about how Operation Mirror has failed and such.  They check out everything and the pilot appears and reaches out for Carol but when Rick hits it in the head with a stick, he fucking explodes into dust and nothingness!

They find the boat and head back to the hotel.  At the hotel, Janet is trying to calm Tom and he says all sorts of nice things about how he always liked her best, but she was Rick’s girl, and Rick was the leader and so forth.  He turns into a monster version and chases her through the hotel.  When he tries to grab her in an elevator, she is able to go up and the elevator and that tears his arm off.  Unfortunately, the buttons in the elevator turn to marshmallows and the walls of the elevator pulls her in.

The other hooligan that didn’t get his head turned around by Lesley and the hotel itself still terrorize Rick and Carol, but, as it turns out, those two villains end up kind of cancelling each other out because the house eats the hooligan and kind of stops attacking Rick and Carol for a bit.  On their way out, Rick can hear Janet’s voice calling to him.  This leads them into the ballroom where Lesley comes onto stage and emcees the end of the marathon dance competition that took place on that New Year’s Eve.  She tells them about the plane carrying the stuff that fucked up time and space and such.

They continue to try to escape the hotel but it’s really more of a haunted spookhouse now more than anything.  It taunts them, attacks them, tries to use their friends against them, etc.  You know, good ol’ fashioned demony goodness.  Actually, it’s a lot like Night of the Demons really.  You’re in a spookhouse and people die and turn into monsters in the house…  Yeah, it’s a lesser Night of the Demons.

Looks like someone got to figure out what it was like to do it on the snooker table.

Soon, Rick and Carol escape the hotel and are chased by the zombified people from the old party in 1959 and their friends and hooligans from that day.  They all beckon to join them.  They get to the beach to get onto the boat the hooligans used to get to the island.  Rick is tricked by a vision of a totally normal Janet and falls into quicksand and is killed by one of the zombie demons.  Carol gets on the boat and seemingly is able to get away from it all, because, duh, USA rulez and shit.

BUT OH NOES!  Carol is pulled under water by a monster.  She appears on the opposite side of the mirror in the ballroom and begs for help from the partiers in the hotel – who are a mix of the old timers and our new kids.

Man…  Bloody New Year is a goofy movie.  While I do applaud it being more than just a run of the mill spooky haunted house movie.  I mean it is awesomely weird and different with the time and matter displacement stuff.  I can’t tell you of another super high concept type of movie of that era quite like this.  All of that said, you almost have to see the movie to believe what you get here.

It’s got an odd pacing issue where it takes forever to something big happening then a lot of big happenings take place to the point that it then has to slow down to a near crawl to not wrap everything up in only 50 minutes.  That means it has about 45 minutes of actual filler.  It’s got super thin characters that don’t really seem to care much for each other.  I mean, yes, I do like the stream of consciousness feel to the movie, but it feels like a first draft movie.  Its charm can help you through it, but the bizarreness is not enough to carry it over its problems.

But it is a Norman J. Warren movie so it is the best thing I’ve seen so far this new year.

Next week, I get to another that has been sitting in a stack for a while that I finally get to write about.  In 2012ish or so, a little indie movie came out with the intent to look and feel like an early 80s slasher/thriller.  It even has Mr. Joe Bob Briggs in it too!  So come back to see what I have to say about Justin Russell’s The Sleeper!

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