Bloody New Year (1987)
Written By: Angela DiLella
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Norman J. Warren
Producer: Hayden Pearce
Screenwriter: Frazer Pearce
Date Released: October 22, 1987
Suzy Aitchison as Lesley
Nikki Brooks as Janet
Colin Heywood as Spud
Mark Powley as Rick
Catherine Roman as Carol
Rating: 2/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
In the middle of the summer, a group of friends and acquaintances run their boat aground on an island that is home to a mysterious hotel strewn with Christmas decorations from the fifties. However, they soon find that the Christmas decorations are only the tip of the iceberg as there are much stranger and more dangerous things lying in wait for them…
There is not much gore to speak of. There’s one impressive kill involving an elevator that belies the cheapness of most of the other effects, but most of the gore effects aren’t going to scare anybody over the age of thirteen.
The Grave Review
Some fond memories I have from high school are from my video English class projects. You probably had to do them too: in a group of four or five kids, reenact the key scenes from Hamlet on tape. Or reimagine Beowulf as a Western, or something like that. Bloody New Year kind of feels like one of those movies.
In a way, that feeling made it less surprising when I learned that Bloody New Year was apparently meant to be an homage to fifties B movies. It has the earmarks of those kind of movies: an inexplicable science experiment, some mostly inexplicable monsters, and effects that range from surprisingly good to shockingly goofy with little to no warning.
Bloody New Year (1987) potentially has that kind of charm, for the most part running as a straight B movie. Characters are forgettable (I only really remembered Rick’s name throughout because they were yelling it all the time), unfitting for their roles (they’re supposed to be teenagers, I think), but aren’t necessarily a bad lot, it just feels less like they’re acting as a group that showed up and are reacting in real time to weird events, like a half-planned grade school video project. Things happen to the characters, sometimes because of the affected hotel and sometimes because things just happen in these kinds of movies. This is par for the course for these types of movies, and not necessarily a problem if you know what you’re getting into.
It does have some surprisingly good effects and concepts that make it stand apart from other movies, even more mainstream, better-budgeted features. My favorite scene might be a very well-cut scene where a character gets too close to a projected film. One of the people from the film steps from the projection and attacks the character. There’s also a scene where a character opens a door in the hotel and is blasted with snow and wind—the snow isn’t going to fool anyone, but it’s so odd and unexpected that I don’t really care. The scene wears thin as she struggles through the snowy room, but it’s such a break from a stereotypical jump scare that it really did win me over, especially in light of other generic scares scattered throughout the film. These and similar refreshing moments make sillier scares and effects even more disappointing, but you never really know which way scenes are going to go, which add their own excitement and tension to the actual story that is surely unintended by the creators of the film.
Overall, Bloody New Year is a bit of a toss-up. It has strong moments or ideas that stand out even when compared to better-budgeted horror movies I’ve seen, but the quality of ideas and effects are so inconsistent it’s hard for me to really love it—just parts of it. I can appreciate what it wanted to be, but like the fifties B movies it seeks to emulate, update, and pay respects to, it ends up as a movie that is fine, but is only the sum of its parts, nothing more. It isn’t my Indie darling, but I have no doubt that it’s somebody’s out there; for me, it will be a background movie for chores or work, but rarely ever a feature.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Bloody New Year (1987) two graves out of five graves.
The BluRay/DVD set for The Children was generously donated by film restoration and distribution company Vinegar Syndrome. You can check out more of their catalogue at their website or at their physical storefront, The Archive, located in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
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