Judge David Johnson is running out of witty things to say about goofy '80s horror movies.
Five teens wander into an abandoned hotel and blah blah blah. But this installment in the "hack-'em slash-'em" teeny-bop debauch-o-rama separates itself from the rest of the pack with its straight-up nuttiness.
Facts of the Case
A pack of friends are living it up on their vacation. Between traipsing around a boffo amusement park and evading the local toughs, their outing is on track to be a memorable one. But when they decide to take to the sea and venture out on their own party barge, circumstances will soon take a turn for the '80s slasher hullabaloo.
One things leads to another, and the boat sinks, catapulting the kids onto a strange island. Some exploration of the island reveals an abandoned hotel, which seems to be stuck in the throes of a retro-'50s New Year's Eve celebration.
They nose around, try on some of the dated—though undeniably cool—clothing, and take full advantage of the hotel's amenities. But it isn't long before they notice something ain't quite right with their surroundings.
Suddenly, they are under siege from an array of supernatural forces: ghosts run rampant, zombie scratch and gnaw upon them, the staircase comes alive and bites hapless passers-by, and one by one, this former merry band of adolescents fall prey to the sinister…eh, screw it. You get the point.
This low-budget 1987 horror offering comes courtesy of British exploitation maestro Norman Warren (Alien Prey, Satan's Slave). His final directorial effort, Bloody New Year plays like a cross between a lower-tier Star Trek: The Next Generation episode and The Shining.
We have an evil-infested hotel, which boasts a scientific origin (I won't ruin the surprise, but let's just say it doesn't make any sense), and a pack of college-aged fodder that gets picked off in increasingly bizarre ways. Whether it's the aforementioned banister, or the demonic game room from the climax (our heroes attempt to outmaneuver attacking pool tables and pinball machines), or a malicious elevator that sucks its victims into oblivion, the treacherous pitfalls are numerous and imaginative.
The zaniness isn't confined to the indoors, either. The loonier moments unfold when our heroes take to the outside. One particular sequence shows two survivors in the middle of the woods, being pursued by some malevolent, unseen force, rendered as ultra-fast, disorienting camera POV shots (it nauseates more than anything else), and finding, at every turn, laughing shrubs. That's right—foliage emitting a canned laugh track.
In a boathouse, the protagonists do battle with a spectral fisherman, and then a zombie that, lucky for them, has a real hard time clawing its way out of fishing nets.
These odd, surreal scenes and images make Bloody New Year stand out from the parade of generic slashers. On the other hand, the film is missing several elements that make these '80s bloodbaths fun. The film is nudity-free; a surprising development, considering the director is renowned for lewd exploitation. And it's not that gory. Aside from a few memorable shots—particularly the fist through the sternum and chopped-off arm—Bloody New Year relies mainly on its all-out craziness to generate scares.
The movie is released in its original 1.33:1 full-frame ratio. The studio put forward a pretty clean transfer; yes, the film looks dated, but there are no dramatic problems that flaw the picture. The same can be said for the 2.0 digital mix, converted from the original mono. Nothing major, and barely effective. This is an extras-free disc.
When all is said and done, Bloody New Year doesn't do enough noteworthy things to elevate it above its old-school-slasher brethren
Guilty of making this judge wonder what narcotic the writing crew was speedballing.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
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