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Dr. Jose on “New Year’s Evil”

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I originally wrote and posted this article on the other site I contribute to, Nerd City. You can read the original article on Nerd City HERE.

Happy Holidays, gorehounds!

Welp, it’s the end of December – and the end of another year. As we wrap up this utter shitshow that was 2014, we should take a moment to reflect upon what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown over the last 365 days.

But since that sounds like a real snoozefest (not to mention, I’d prefer to forget everything that happened this past year), I’m going to take this time to reflect upon the New Year’s Eve-set gonzo slasher flick, “New Year’s Evil”. By my accounts, it’s the only horror film that explicitly uses New Year’s Eve as a plot device (rather than just ‘occuring’ during NYE). The most well-known horror flick to use New Year’s Eve as a backdrop is the fair-to-middlin’ “Terror Train”. But while that film had a pedigree like Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Johnson, David Copperfield, and Roger Spottiswoode to help sturdy its wobbly structure, “New Year’s Evil” had absolutely nothing to support its existence, unless you count Roz Kelly – known for playing Fonzie’s girlfriend “Pinky” Tusacdero – as ‘support’. And it probably didn’t do the movie any favors that it was written by a 64-year-old with no prior credits to his name – let alone any horror credits. Incidentally, both films came out in 1980, and neither were huge successes.

“New Year’s Evil” is slasher absurdity at its best; complete with overacting, a paper thin plot, and a twist you see coming within the first 5 minutes of the movie. To help illustrate just how goofy it, I took a bunch of screenshots – which I intend to walk you through now! So, without further ado.. New Year’s Evil!

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A Golan/Globus Production, so right off the bat you know this thing is gonna be all types of shitty. They were essentially ‘The Asylum’ of the ’80′s, churning out mid-to-low budget films that were cashing in on the genre trends at the time. Golan and Globus were behind most of the Chuck Norris movies of the 80′s, as well as “Hercules” (starring Lou Ferrigno), “The Barbarians” (starring the Barbarian Brothers!), and “Masters of the Universe”. Off to a great start.

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So the movie opens with a group of punk rockers driving down some Hollywood boulevard, as you do. And they’re screaming. You can tell by the caption. This goes on for literally 3 minutes. Also, I don’t know if you can see, but there’s 8 people, crammed into that droptop. And they’re drinking. And screaming; don’t forget the screaming. I guess the cops had the night off seeing as it was New Year’s Eve.

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After the long, screamy opening, we’re introduced to our protagonist, “Blaze”, who hosts a yearly New Year’s countdown show. She’s like an MTV VJ type, but far worse. We’ll get to that in a second.

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As Blaze is getting ready to host her countdown show, her fragile son shows up to announce he’s just landed a role in a new TV show! But mom doesn’t seem to care. So junior pouts and asks, “Where’s dad?”, to which Mama Blaze responds, “I don’t know – you know he’s not well…” And as the camera hangs ominously on her bleak expression, the director successfully gives away who our antagonist is going to be. Five minutes into the film! Congrats, must be some kinda record. Anyway, Blaze splits for her gig. And remember how I said she was an awful host? It’s because she says shit like this:

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What the shit is she talking about? No one talks like that. No one has ever said that grouping of words. Ever. I can assure you. “Spin out and boil your hair”? “Slam down and get even”? Oof.

Anyway, it should be noted that this live countdown show is also a call-in show, where callers can…y’know…call in. For what reason? I have no idea. There is a band playing, but they’re not taking requests. In fact, the first person who does call in randomly says “I really like that song ‘Don’t Need No Education’!”, (I’m assuming she was referring to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall pt. II”), but why did this girl call in to the show to announce that? Even Blaze is baffled and says, “Oh, just some hot gossip, huh?”, and HANGS UP. Great, a call-in show with no reason to call in. Anyway, surprise surprise, the next caller is our killer. He uses some sort of voice distortion, ala “Scream”. But it’s so laughably bad and not scary. It sounds like someone who had a laryngectomy. Like from those TRUTH commercials.

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See, even Blaze ain’t buying it. Eventually, our killer makes his grand announcement:

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Now, since this is a call-in show, I assume the calls are being fed through a loud speaker for the audience to hear. I know the calls are being aired on TV, because we see junior hear this call unfold while watching the tube from his apartment – so people at home definitely heard this call. Yet the crowd – the audience at the live taping – do not react to this announcement AT ALL. There are no gasps, no laughs, no cheering. NOTHING. The crowd just sort of mills about waiting for the band to play. Speaking of the band, please welcome to the stage…Shadow!:

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So this show is touted as a “new wave show” and Shadow is supposedly a new wave band. Yet the first song they play is 80′s metal, akin to Grim Reaper or Judas Priest. And then they play this sorta sexy bluesy song. Go figure. New wave was still finding its footing in 1980. Well then we cut to a loony bin, where the patients are watching the countdown show and dancing. And the nurses are laughing at the patients.

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So the killer – disguised as a doctor – breaks into this hospital. And he immediately starts hitting on a nurse. And within seconds, they’re making out:

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Told you. But then he kills her right as the East Coast countdown reaches zero:

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So with his promise fulfilled, he makes his way to a payphone to call up Blaze and announce the deed hath been done. And again, I just wanna point out what a goofy sonofbitch this guy is:

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Like, besides being only one of two people to have called in, you’re the only dude who’s called the show and address himself as “Evil” using some weird voice distorter. Why would you say, “Remember me?” How could they forget?

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So that’s junior, being a total nut. I promise I have not altered and shifted any of these screenshots to try and change the tone of the film or what actually happens. All of this insane silly bullshit happens.

So, our killer makes his next move. He plans to kill three women total (one for each timezone – clever!) He slaps on a fake mustache, goes to a disco, and uses this line to pick up his next victim:

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On what planet, in what dimension, would that pick-up line ever work? Anyway, shockingly, it DOES work. But the girl insists they bring her friend along. Mr. Suave hesitantly agrees. They stop at a convenience store and our killer sends the friend in to buy a bottle of champagne so that he can have some alone time with this poor, gullible gal.

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Why! Why would say that about your friend who you dragged along, especially while she’s in the store not able to defend herself? Also, it’s not like the friend asked, “Can we stop so I can go to the bathroom?”, so why in the world would you just randomly say that about her? I take it all back, this girl deserves to get whacked.

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See that giant, green nug in that bag? Yes, he actually suffocates her with a bag of pot. No joke. This movie is groundbreaking. (Note: more screaming.)

So after killing this chick – and her poor diarrhetic friend – he changes costumes once more. This time, he suits up as a priest. As he’s driving around, he crashes into some bikers.

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This plot point serves absolutely no purpose. He escapes to a drive-in theater (where the films playing on screen are better than this actual film), and hijacks a new car, and gets away. That’s it. No idea why the producers felt the need to include this utterly random scene. Also note the caption above says “fighting” despite the fact that it’s just some bikers biking through an alley. This shit is too heavy for me.

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Oh great. Hey, look everyone. It’s junior. Being a total crazy fuck, again. What the fuck is going on. He looks like he should be in Madness.

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I guess the killer is a cop now. He finally makes his way back to the studio where the live show is taking place (which also happens to be the same building where Blaze’s apartment is – convenient!)

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This Stan Laurel mask is by far the creepiest our killer has looked the entire film. He should’ve worn this the whole goddamn time. We should have never seen his face! Anyway, while in this garb, he abducts Blaze, who happens to be HIS WIFE! You had this figured out already, right? Like immediately? Good. So, our creeptastic killer takes her to an elevator and gets philosophical for a second:

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Great. You realize you’re a guy and you’ve been killing people, right? Killing innocent women, mind you. This movie is deep! This dude is one tortured cat!

So he ties her up to the elevator cables in the shaft, hoping that she’ll fall to her death or get crushed. But as she’s banging around in the shaft, the greatest line of the whole film is delivered by a completely random character:

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Just as I was about to give up on this film, some dude who looks like he got kicked out of Pure Hell pulls me back in. Okay, let’s wrap this baby up.

The cops bust into the building and save Blaze. They also track our killer to the roof. He stands perilously on the edge, and decides now is as good a time as any to quote some Hamlet:

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Okay, sure, why not. Then he jumps!

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Wheee!

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Oh, great. Look who it is. So, Junior, distraught over his father’s death (seriously, I hope you pieced that all together long, long ago), decides maybe he’ll drop the acting and get into dad’s line of work. So as Mama Blaze gets loaded into an ambulance, we see the driver…

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Hey! Wait a minute!

Notice all the people in the background, obviously witnessing that some deranged kid has put on a freaky mask, subdued the driver, and is now driving the ambulance himself. But are they gonna do anything to stop him? Hell no. Why should they! Now that I think about, it might be that same braindead, emotionless zombie crowd from earlier in the film! Hey, I think it is!

Well, that’s it friends. I hope you’re able to glean some important life lesson from my walk through of “New Year’s Evil”. Even if that lesson is as a simple as “wearing sunglasses over pink pantyhose is a bad look”.

Here’s to a (hopefully) diarrhea-free 2015!

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“I Spit on Your Grave” (1978) REVIEW

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 What a fucking great title for a film. Truly one of the most badass.

 This is one of those exploitative “rape and revenge” flicks that was so popular in the 70s, along with Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left and Ruggero Deodato’s House at the Edge of the Park. I mean, yes, the film is pretty vile. And it is mostly violence and sex for violence and sex sake. But there is nothing better than watching the reeeallly bad guys get their comeuppance.A pretty, young writer goes to a secluded cottage to get some work done. The locals take a liking to her, but she shrugs off their advances. They don’t take kindly to her city ways and decide to give her a nice country welcome with a heavy dose of gang rape. Left for dead, the young woman exacts revenge on the redneck rapists.
 
There are a couple classic (cringe-inducing) scenes, especially for the male viewers. And who can forget that classic box art? If you want to be a well-rounded horror film fiend, you’ll make sure to watch this along with your haunted houses and mutant bugs.

“Maniac” (1980) REVIEW

maniac081811You know the song “Maniac” from the movie Flashdance? It was inspired by this film. The songwriters simply changed the lyrics about the killer so it could be used about an obsessive dancer instead.

That tidbit should be enough to make you want to see this 1980 slasher classic. It was directed by William Lustig (who also directed Maniac Cop, proving his affinity for the word ‘maniac’), and the make-up was done by none other than 80s effects wizard of gore Tom Savini. This movie is infamous for a scene involving a shotgun blast to the face. Bless you, Mr. Savini.

The movie is about a schizo loner named Frank Zito (played by a sweaty, scary, and super creepy Joe Spinell, RIP) who likes to go out and scalp women. He brings their scalps back to adorn several mannequins he has lying around his apartment. He’s so lonely – he just wants the company!

The is one of those low-budget, guerilla-style labors of love that really show how dedicated some people are to the genre. The movie only had a purported budget of $550,000.

“April Fool’s Day” (1986) REVIEW

april-fools-day-1A full decade before Scream was being self-aware and winking at the audience, there was April Fool’s Day. It’s really quite a ballsy move releasing a tongue-in-cheek horror film amid the 80s onslaught of slashers and stalkers. Especially considering the whole film is presented as a typical slasher film. It’s not until the last act… well, I’ve said too much already.

I’m sure you’ve seen the iconic box cover before. A girl stands, facing a group of friends, her back to us. In her hand, hidden to the crowd but visible to us, she holds a knife. Oh, and her hair: her hair has been braided into a noose. A great image.

The cast is a bunch of young faces you’ll recognize from other 1980s films. And as I mentioned, the film isn’t afraid to have fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously. There’s some gore, some decapitation, some stabbings, sure. But there’s also some laughs. I mean, the movie stars Biff Tannen. How can you go wrong with Biff Tannen?

“The Blob” (1988) REVIEW

SG_BMovies_sideWith a crew like Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont, make-up by Tony Gardner, and a cast including Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith (and Del Close and Bill Moseley), how can you go wrong?

While I don’t necessarily believe in the need for remakes (nor am I anti-remake — deep breaths), I would hope that the main motivations behind one would be the intention to improve — like in the case of this movie, updating the special effects to make The Blob a brutal, acidic globule. That’s exactly what The Blob does, and it does an amazing job. This blob is gross and ominous and truly threatening. And the damage it does to the people it encounters is painful looking, to say the least.

The plot line is pretty much the same as the original, save for a change of locations — a meteor crashes to Earth, and the space jelly contained inside starts wreaking havoc on the small town; not much needs to be improved upon there, the story is solid.

When it comes to remakes, this is one of the scant few I give a bloody, gnarled thumbs up.

“Waxwork” (1988) REVIEW

7857_03Ah, to be a teen in the 80s. To be able to enjoy every awesome horror release.

Combining everything that was awesome about 80s horror: bored, affluent teens seeking (ultimately) deadly thrills; likable genre actors and actresses; comedy and gore; killer poster art — “Waxwork” goes above and beyond what’s required to become a classic. Not to mention there are 18 (!) different monsters/villains that are used throughout the film. You couldn’t ask for anything more!

The storyline is quick with the set-up and doesn’t hesitate getting to the good stuff: a group of college students discover a newly opened wax museum while on a walk one day. The proprietor invites them to a gathering and, naturally, they accept. When they visit the museum the next night, they find themselves being sucked into the displays and interacting with the scenery directly. One student gets sucked into a werwolf scene, another is sucked into a vampire scene. So forth and so on.

This one always stuck out to me as there’s so much going on, with all the different scenarios and monsters. This was followed by an equally cool/fun sequel.