Now Playing: NEW YEAR'S EVIL
Want to kick off the new year with a serial killer, Pinky Tuscadero and lots of shitty new wave music? Thanks to the badasses at Cannon, namely Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, you can.
NEW YEAR'S EVIL is a slasher movie about Blaze (Roz Kelly), a remarkably talentless (even though the movie claims otherwise) host of a network New Year's Eve special that's counting down to midnight in all four U.S. timezones while kids dance to punk and New Wave bands in the studio. Just before the ball drops in New York (the movie is set in El Lay), Blaze receives an on-air phone call from "Evil" (Kip Niven), telling her that he plans to kill someone close to her at the stroke of 12 in every timezone. The movie is so poor that this never happens; in fact, except for his first pre-call murder, Blaze knows none of his victims.
Director Emmett Alston, who later made the memorable George Kennedy/Bigfoot/space zombie opus DEMONWARP, attempts a red herring by having Blaze's teenage son Derek (a lousy performance by the amazingly-still-working Grant Cramer) act strangely and even wander around backstage wearing a red stocking and dark glasses on his head. Why, I don't know, because the killer's identity is no mystery, and a late twist will surprise no one.
Alston even fouls up the killings, staging them off-screen with precious little gore. Evil is one of cinema's lucky serial killers; either that or he's a master planner, because everything seems to go his way. He's aided by several stupid cops, and his first attack is predicated on knowing that his victim, a nurse, will unquestionably follow a complete stranger into a back room and have sex with him.
Roz Kelly was an odd choice to play the Final Girl in a slasher movie. She was almost 40 and not exactly blessed with ingenue looks. Her claim to fame was playing Fonzie's tough-chick ladyfriend Pinky Tuscadero in a handful of HAPPY DAYS episodes. Kip Niven had been around too; he may have been a Universal contract player for awhile, and he also appeared with Robert Urich and David Soul as vigilante cops in the Clint Eastwood thriller MAGNUM FORCE. You'll also see Taaffe O'Connell, next seen being raped by a slimy space worm in GALAXY OF TERROR, and a young and boobular Teri Copley, who went on to star in a couple of sitcoms and bounce around in some BATTLE OF THE NETWORK STARS competitions.
Cannon released NEW YEAR'S EVIL near the end of 1980. There's no telling whether anyone went to see it, although it does have a pretty good trailer that plays up the murder-per-timezone gimmick and shows the killer wearing a scary-looking Stan Laurel mask, something he barely does in the film.
Niven lures one of his victims out of a crowded bar by telling her he's going to "a big party up at Erik Estrada's house". Awesome!