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New Years Evil (Blu-ray)

    Ian Jane

  • New Years Evil (Blu-ray)

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: February 24th, 2015.
    Director: Emmett Alston
    Cast: Louisa Moritz, Jed Mills, Taafe O'Connell, Roz Kelly, Kip Niven
    Year: 1980
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Emmett Alston (who made a few ninja movies in the eighties) in 1980, New Years Evil is one of the countless slashers that followed in the wake of Black Christmas and Halloween set around a holiday or special occasion. It's entertaining enough and an interesting product of its time, but is it any good? No, not really. It's fun though if you're in the right mood.

    The story follows a popular L.A. disc jockey named Diane 'Blaze' Sullivan (Roz Kelly) who is hosting a KROQ bash to celebrate New Year's Eve - the theme? They're going to ring in the new year four times this night, once in New York, once in Chicago, once in Colorado and then last but not least, in real time once it hits midnight in Los Angeles. The hottest punk/new wave bands are playing live and the whole thing is being broadcast on TV. It all starts to get weird though when Diane takes a call from a listener (Kip Niven) who tells her how evil he is and that he's going to kill a woman each time the arrival of the new year is celebrated.

    She figures it's a hoax or just some random nutjob messing with her but once Times Square lights up at twelve, this caller plays back a recording he made while murdering a nurse he hoodwinked into fooling around with him at an insane asylum he broke into. From there, he continues his killing spree, taking out a poor teenage girl and then coercing a girl to be alone with him by putting on a fake moustache and inviting her to a party at Erik Estrada's house (huh?). As he closes in on Blaze, the cops are looking for him but all they know is his voice…

    While this movie isn't in the least bit scary it is packed to the gills with early eighties goofiness. Loads of scenes of dancing 'punkers' pads the movie out to feature length while Kip Niven's bizarre performance as the 'eeev-villl' serial killer on the loose is more comical than it is frightening. Most of this has more to do with the script than with his performance but he's definitely deserving of some of the blame. The movie is fun though - there are a couple of moderately interesting kills, even if the film doesn't really show us anything new here, and the unintentional comedy that's offered up by all of the bad eighties everything is amusing, particularly to those who have been around long enough to remember just how horrible much of that decade was as far as fashion was concerned.


    New Year's Evil looks arrives on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory's Scream Factory imprint in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer, offering a nice improvement over the previous release. The picture is crisp and colorful and free of major print damage. Grain is apparent throughout the feature but that's not a bad thing, while color reproduction is strong throughout, this is really obvious in some of the garish fashions you'll see on display. Black levels are good, shadow detail is fine and there aren't any instances of overzealous noise reduction or irritating edge enhancement to spot. All in all, this is a pretty strong picture, the movie looks very good in high definition on this disc.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track sounds good. Dialogue is clean, clear and properly balanced and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. The music and effects has a bit more depth than they did on the DVD release and the track is stronger and clearer here than on past releases. Clarity and range are quite good and the white subtitles are clean, clear and easy to read.

    The previous MOD/DVD-R release from the MGM Limited Edition Collection had only a trailer as its sole extra - this disc makes up for that, starting with an audio commentary track featuring director Emmett Alston moderated by Bill Olsen. They start off the track by talking about the hotel location used in the opening scene of the movie and then go on to give an okay screen specific talk about the making of the movie. Alston clams up now and again and his memory isn't so hot, but Olsen is fairly quick to ask him a question and get him talking about as best he can. There is a bit of dead air here and there despite his best efforts as a moderator. Despite that, Alston talks about getting the extras for the concert scene by rounding them up off of Hollywood Boulevard, working with Golan and Globus (describing them as all business), and what it was like working on his first feature film as a director. They talk about the various cast members that pop up in the film, the need to shoot late at night after the Los Angeles traffic had died down, changes that were made to the script here and there, the problems with working for Cannon who wanted the film made as quickly as possible and more. Aside from those instances where Alston goes quiet, this is a worthwhile talk that the film's fan base should appreciate.

    There's also a featurette included here entitled Call Me Eeevil: The Making Of New Year's Evil runs just over thirty-seven minutes in length. It starts off with some thoughts from director of photography Thomas Ackerman who speaks highly of Emmet Alston and how he met him to begin with and how he got into filmmaking. Kip Niven also pops up here, talking about how a lot of the 'principal components' involved in the film were working on a feature here for the first time, himself included. He speaks quite highly of his experiences working on the film, as does actress Taaffe O'Connell who has 'nothing but nice things to say' about the director. Grant Cramer also appears here and talks about his work on the film. Other topics include working with Cannon Films on the picture, some of what happened on the set with Chris Pierce as the film's producer, some of the more infamous set pieces that appear in the film, working ten hour days on the shoot and quite a bit more. It's a thorough, well put together piece that does a great job of detailing the background of the movie.

    The film's trailer, animated menus and chapter selection round out the extras and hey, we get some nice reversible cover art here too.

    The Final Word:

    About as goofy as a slasher film can get, New Years Evil isn't scary or particularly intense but it's entertaining enough in its own stupid way that fans of the era's stalk and kill films will get a kick out of it. The film's Blu-ray debut from Shout! Factory is quite a nice one, giving the movie a nice upgrade not only in the audio and video departments but with some newly created supplements too.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

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