Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Year's Evil

Last night was one of those nights. Norman decided to practice his bongo drums in the nude again until all hours making sleep very, very difficult. When that beat, beat, beat of the tom-tom is running through my head, I often find it wise to go down to my studio to work on new and exciting tap routines but he kept changing tempos depending on his mood so we were always off beat with each other. I was not amused and eventually slipped a couple of bottles of Nyquil into his cocoa and he finally dropped off.

I, however, remained wide awake. So many things to worry about. My next public appearances at the Snake Wrangler's Hall of Fame opening and the Hip-Hop awards aren't ready. The VickiWear labor crisis is keeping me from filling infomercial orders in a timely fashion. Will my big power ballad for Flying Down to Reno entitled I Could Have Crashed All Night be a major hit on adult contemporary radio from coast to coast. All of these matters of vital importance were churning through my mind.

As sleep was slow in coming, I turned on the late night cable to find something to while away the hours while my Xanax highball did its work. They weren't playing my infomercial so I channel surfed until I ran across New Years Evil on late night Showtime. Feeling in the mood for a good slice and dice slasher film, I settled in. Unfortunately, this was not good and only marginally a film.

New Years Evil was a Cannon Group/Golan-Globus entry in the early 1980s cycle of slasher films kicked off by the success of Hallowe'en and Friday the 13th. It was designed to showcase the many thespian talents of Roz Kelly, best known for her stunning performance as Fonzie's girlfriend, Pinky Tuscadero, in the later stages of Happy Days. What these thespian talents are supposed to include is anyone's guess - they do not appear to encompass acting, portrayal of emotion, or creation of a character that could be called a recognizable human. Fortunately for humankind, her career flamed out soon after this turkey was released and we have been spared further appearances of this so called actress since. Her leading man is Kip Niven, son of David, who apparently inherited none of his father's looks or talent, but does have the biggest feathered hair-do this side of Farrah Fawcett.

Roz is Diane Sullivan, a Casey Kasem type disc jockey known as Blaze. She's hosting a big new year's eve party televised coast to coast (a la Dick Clark) called New Year's Evil featuring the sounds of 'The New Wave'. As the budget for the film appears to have been $9.95 plus tax, this gala affair is being held at the Hollywood Boulevard Holiday Inn and the only bands they could get are some pretty terrible LA garage bands called 'Shadow' and 'Made In Japan', neither of which is New Wave. 'Shadow' is a 'Queen' wannabe complete with a Freddy Mercury sound alike and too much eye shadow (perhaps this is whence they derived their name). 'Made in Japan' is just bad and sounds like the kid next door and his high school pals trying to entertain at the local block party. A psycho killer calls in on Blaze's request line and threatens to do someone in at midnight in each of the four time zones, ending up with Blaze herself. Could the psycho be her drug addled husband (Niven), her ignored son (Grant Cramer), just a random loony off the street bent on terrorizing radio DJs who wear dresses that look like orange saran wrap and way too much rouge? Those with more than a kindergarten education will figure it out within about ten minutes.

Sure enough, the crazed psycho starts to don various disguises including priest and cop and runs around LA doing in libidinous young ladies at 9 PM, 10 PM and 11 PM PST. The victims are all starlets with a willingness to feather their hair and indulge in 70s style eye make-up. Acting talent doesn't appear to have been a requirement. There's a very serious looking police lieutenant (Chris Wallace) who tries to protect Blaze from danger while she whips up a crowd of unenthusiastic punk looking extras into enjoying the horrid sounds of the house bands. His job is to say inane things like 'We'll protect you.' and to bark orders at other uncomfortable looking extras dressed as cops (the gaffers and grips pressed into service, perhaps?). By the time Blaze is manacled to the bottom of an elevator and ridden up and down the shaft, we half hope there won't be a nick of time rescue, just so something interesting will happen.

For a slasher film, there's remarkably little blood. Most of the murders take place off screen and their aftermaths seem almost decorous, considering what other films of the period were doing. The lead ups to the murders are so ineptly staged that there's nothing scary about them. There's only one good shock moment in the whole film, a scene involving a garbage dumpster that turns your expectations on their head. The director/creator is an Emmett Alston who went on to such glory as Nine Deaths of the Ninja and 3 Little Ninjas and the Lost Treasure. No, I haven't heard of them either but maybe Mr. Alston had more luck when his actors were shrouded in black and could not be seen by the audience.

Recommended only to those making a serious scholarly study of the films of Golan-Globus.

Destroyed roses. Smashed clown on tricycle. Mask with psychosexual undertones. Phone bank volunteers. 'Blood Feast' clip. Gratuitous disco dancing extras. Red pantyhose over head. Fake mustache. Gratuitous Psycho references. Cop clubbing.

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