Here at Balladeer’s Blog I’m very fond of cinematic turkeys that have seasonal tie-ins. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas bombs have gotten ample attention from me, so permit me to follow those items up with this look at bad movies with a New Year’s Eve theme. As usual, full-length reviews of these films can be found on my Bad Movie page.
BLOODY NEW YEAR (1987) – Also released under the title Time Warp but it’s grisly enough for the more explicit title. A handful of British boaters who are fleeing a family of soccer hooligans (no, really) wind up on an island with a deserted hotel that’s been decorated for a New Year’s Eve party since the 1950’s. This Norman J Warren film stars nobody and borrows heavily from Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead in terms of its imitation “Deadites” and its POV tracking shots. It also features a killer who emerges from a movie being watched, a monster who climbs out of a tablecloth, homicidal kitchen utensils, indoor snowfall, laughing shrubbery and living walls. All the chaos is being caused by hapless souls who have been trapped in limbo for decades and will do anything to get out or to drag others into their hellish undead existence with them.
Bloody New Year is a neglected bad movie classic that has all the little extras that separate monumentally bad films from the mere pretenders. An enjoyably catchy opening song called Recipe for Romance adds to to the fun if you’re like me and get a kick out of truly awful movies with goofy but memorable songs. And the two scenes with sentient and deadly fishing nets come across like the towel-in-the-face bits from the Naked Gun flicks.
This movie is wildly enjoyable but a bit too violent for many viewers. It’s hilariously illogical and loaded with unbelievably lame acting, a pointlessly extended period with no dialogue and a kind of “Haunted House on Acid” appeal. You’ll enjoy watching the filmmakers piss away the few good ideas they had and undermine their movie’s atmosphere by having most of it set DURING THE DAY like The Newlydeads. For added fun you can pretend the castaways are various characters from Lost so you can really enjoy the scenes where they meet their gruesome ends. “Take THAT, Locke, you smiling jackass!”
TERROR TRAIN (1980) – A New Year’s Eve slasher film set on a train carrying a load of partying passengers who plan to ring in the New Year in each time zone of the United States. As required by law at the time, Jamie Lee Curtis starred since it was a slasher flick with a seasonal theme. (Look under the Federal Halloween, Halloween II and Prom Night Act of 1980 if you don’t believe me) A few years earlier Curtis and her college buddies played an initiation trick on a freshman by tricking him into bed with a female corpse. The guy had a nervous breakdown from the ugly near-necrophiliac experience (like sleeping with Barbra Streisand must feel) and is supposedly still in a mental hospital because of it.
Curtis and company are among the partiers on the Auld Lang Syne Express mentioned above and a ridiculously costumed slasher (guess who) begins knocking off her college friends as the train rolls across the countryside. Veteran actor Ben Johnson plays the heroic Train Conductor standing in for Dr Loomis in this flick and David Copperfield himself plays a professional magician … and is utterly unconvincing, oddly enough.
Viewers are forced to endure Copperfield’s act which is trite and boring but it makes Terror Train one of the Big Four horror film turkeys that use pointless magician’s acts as filler. (The other three being The Body Shop, Boardinghouse and Funhouse.) This baby has not aged well and is fun to laugh at because of the ubiquitous cliches, dull death scenes, lack of logic and its Sleepaway Camp style twist ending. The scene where the killer’s costume looks like a crazed Gene Shalit getup is a lot of fun. All this plus a young Vanity! They’re actually doing a remake of this, believe it or not.
GHOSTKEEPER (1981) – One of those infamous Canadian tax shelter movies of the early 1980’s, so you know what you’re in for: the usual slapdash storytelling, low production values and a tale that would have been better handled in the old glory days of radio decades ago. On New Year’s Eve two men and a woman get stranded in the Rocky Mountains following a snowmobile crash. They seek refuge in a creepy old boardinghouse run by the female Joe Spinnell, Georgie Collins. Collins plays an absolute psycho who has two creepy sons, one of whom is a host for the cannibalistic Native American monster called the Wendigo.
The Wendigo son is kept in the basement where its mother and brother have been feeding people to it for years and our three stars battle to stay alive. There’s also a struggle for freedom involved because the demented woman (who springs a twist that is so lame I wouldn’t dream of spoiling it for you) is looking for someone to take over her burden of overseeing the Wendigo’s captivity in the haunted boardinghouse. All this plus a Texas Chainsaw Massacre ripoff – uh, I mean homage.
NEW YEAR’S EVIL (1980) – This one is so infamous I’ll just do a quick take. See my full-length review if you want more. As the title suggests this flick is the New Year’s Eve entry in the 80′s trend toward slasher flicks for every occassion on the calendar. Kip Niven, David Niven’s son, plays the mass murderer who kills at least one person each time Midnight arrives in each of America’s time zones. Roz Kelly plays an elderly punk singer who is not punk in any way, shape or form and who is hosting a New Year’s Eve special like a certain elderly DJ used to host. Lack of logic abounds, as do interchangeable victims, no-name musical acts and a long, pointless battle between our slasher and a biker gang!
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