Title: BLOODY NEW YEAR—aka—TIME WARP TERROR
Year of Release—Film: 1987
Five teenagers (Suzy Aitchison, Nikki Brooks, Colin Heywood, Mark Powley and Catherine Roman), strangers to each other for the most part, meet at a carnival when one of them is attacked by a rowdy pair of thugs. The teens escape in a small boat that soon takes them to an island where a long-abandoned (but surprisingly tidy) hotel awaits. Little do they realize that tragedy hit that very hotel on New Year’s Eve 1959. And, that the not-so-departed partygoers of that long ago gala event wait for fresh blood. And, little do they know that the pair of rowdies, along with the carnival's owner, are fast on their heels, seeking revenge! Will the terrified teens escape the island? More importantly, at the end of 90 minutes, will the audience members even care?
BLOODY NEW YEAR had a good premise, that of zombies and ghosts and hauntings. But apparently, it was fed it through the long and expensive process known as suspense-extraction because it's painfully dull! Passable make-up effects were left to linger a long and painful death by cast members who fail to act or react to them. Take this scene as an example. One teen girl turns around to discover her friend has turned into a part-zombie, part-scaly-faced monster. Her reaction is to stand there expressionless for several agonizingly slow moments before letting out a single scream! Now, my reaction if I just saw my friend turned into some hideous thing would be to beat feet so fast the heels on my rubber soles would melt! This is not a singular episode! The acting was competent but everyone in this movie had the same blank expression. It's as if reactions and emoting were cash and payday wasn't until a week from Friday!
Special effects can make or break a movie and BLOODY NEW YEAR is no exception. The special effects in this were actually quite inventive. From the stop-action duck head newel posts that gnaw at one girl to the attack during which two teens must do battle against common kitchen implements to ghostly apparitions materializing and evaporating again, they belied the low budget. And a few scenes stood out as highly effective such as the girl being assimilated into an elevator's walls and a Sheik jumping out of a black and white movie and strangling one of the male teens. The camera work, especially the outdoor work, was above par, too. The script, though hackneyed today, was for 1987 fresh and inventive with tinges of Sam Raimi's THE EVIL DEAD and Stephen King's THE SHINING without being a blatant rip-off of either.
So, where does BLOODY NEW YEAR go wrong? For one, it lacks the over-the-top gore of THE EVIL DEAD and the mounting sense of dread of THE SHINING. The directing by Norman J. Warren, who had given us ALIEN PREY just a short decade before, is flat, lackluster and uninspired. It's creative touches are hampered by its low B-movie budget and fall short when it should have been going for the gusto. Parts that should have left one gasping in horror only left this reviewer gasping in laughter. Reading the imdb user reviews left me wondering what movie they were reviewing. Certainly not the BLOODY NEW YEAR I sat through last night! But, in their defense, they were very kind to Norman J. Warren's final film, calling it "completely surreal" and "a bizarre demonic horror film" but at the same time recognizing it's obvious flaws, such as the ill-fitting soundtrack.
Hollywood big shots take notice. BLOODY NEW YEAR is begging for a 3D remake! Throw in some young "Twilight"-type stars and you are guaranteed box office boffo! But, until that time, my copy of BLOOD NEW YEAR goes back behind the doors of the Video Vault, unloved and never again to be viewed.
"Merry Christmas ... if that's OK"—Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000