Bloody New Year 1987, directed by Norman J. Warren, is a fun kind of awful, writes JAMES WILLIAMS
TITLE: Bloody New Year
RELEASED: September 1987
DIRECTOR: Norman J Warren
CAST: Suzy Aitchison, Nikki Brooks, Colin Heywood, Mark Powley, Catherine Roman, Julian Ronnie
Review of Bloody New Year 1987
Released direct to video in 1987, ‘Bloody New Year’ hopped on the marketable trend of holiday or “occasion” based horror, which started in accomplished fashion with Black Christmas 1974 and Halloween 1978.
Enter the 1980s and we got slashers of dubious quality for all our joyous occasions, including Christmas Evil 1980, Happy Birthday to Me 1981, and even April Fool’s Day 1986.
But Norman J. Warren’s Bloody New Year is its own absurd treat. For one thing, it’s not a slasher. For another, it’s set in July.
And the oddities don’t stop there. The plot, such as it is, follows a group of young adults as they’re tormented by a trio of ruffians at Barry Island Pleasure Park in Wales (the film-crew were given unlimited use of the funfair for the modern day equivalent of under £1000 a week), before the friends set sail on a boat, hit some rocks, and wash up on a small, seemingly deserted island.
Taking little heed of the dead horses, barbed wire, plane wrecks and ‘Danger: Keep Out’ signs, the friends head inland and come across an abandoned hotel which, unluckily for them, is stuck in a “time-warp”, fixing it in New Year’s Eve 1959. Perhaps not such a horrific situation on its own, but the inhabitants of this “awful, angry half-world” are intent on their new guests joining their undead NYE party for ever and ever and ever.
From here a host of bizarre and inexplicable scares take place. These include vacuum cleaners springing to life and tossing themselves down stairs, morose ghosts in mirrors, vicious attacks from monsters formed from tablecloths, and an eerie maid who dissolves in and out of frame while humming ‘Recipe for Romance’ by Chas Cronk’s band Cry No More.
It’s a bit of a mess, and you’d be hard-pushed to call any of it scary, but there are enough surprises and goofy antics to make for worthwhile entertainment, if you’re inclined towards this brand of low-budget horror.
Director Warren, who had experience making horror with Satan’s Slave 1976 and Inseminoid 1981, all but gave up on the film, even before production was finished. Indeed, he had such a “terrible experience” making Bloody New Year he never made another feature film again.
In this interview, Warren revealed, “it turned out to be a bloody nightmare. We had the wrong producers on that film and they didn’t know anything about horror. So the film lacks in every department and by the end of it, my heart just wasn’t in it…they wanted to make the film cheaply and terribly quick.”
Initially the whole film was to have been set in the 1950s, but this was soon rejected due to budget constraints. No doubt it was a frustrating experience for the director, who came to see less and less of his vision realised on screen.
There are certainly plenty of shoddy effects, like when a lift wall sprouts hands that accidentally pierce through the cheap latex the effect was made from.
The script too, leaves a lot to be desired, with the characters neither distinctive nor likeable. Though, their blasé reactions to outlandish supernatural events – and even their friends’ violent deaths – are a source of repeat amusement.
At one point, while the gang watches a film in the hotel cinema, a character jumps out of the movie and slashes one of them to death. Later, reflecting on this shocking incident, Tom (Julian Ronnie) shrugs it off, saying, “We’ve all had a jumpy day.” The ropey dialogue just adds to the film’s charms.
In the final act, after Nikki Brooks’ Janet is dragged out of an improbable hole in the forest path, she says, “This is a nightmare, just awful”.
She’s not wrong – but it’s a fun kind of awful.
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