BLOODY NEW YEAR *** UK 1987 Dir: Norman J. Warren. 93 mins
The odd one out in Warren’s horror filmography, this was destined to disappoint fans of his deliciously sleazy, gory 70’s output while not delivering the late-period slasher thrills seemingly promised by the title. An offbeat British take on post-ELM STREET rubber-reality horror, it does have a charm of its own, starting out at a modern-day summer fun fair where a quartet of “teenagers” flee a group of weird, threatening older blokes on a boat, taking refuge on an island. They wind up at the now-abandoned, still festively decorated hotel glimpsed in the 1959 prologue and, despite the prowling slasher-style p.o.v. shots, face a barrage of paranormal horrors after some ominous early discoveries (“Oh dead horses and barbed wire – I don’t like this place!”).
Chaste in terms of gore and with mild, nudity-free couplings, this has a pleasant 70’s British TV feel, albeit with a dash of THE EVIL DEAD and the obvious ELM STREET influence as grabby arms protrude from walls, film reels attack, hoovers move around on their own, it snows indoors, possessed characters sport sub-par pancake make-up, a jukebox turns evil and there’s a bitey stair banister. Genre nostalgia is invoked by glimpses of an old magazine competition to win Michael Landon’s sweatshirt from I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF and a cinema screens FIEND WITHOUT A FACE. The supernatural assaults involving cutlery, crockery and ambulatory snooker tables are proficiently done, the time warp that traps the cast nods to THE SHINING and there’s a surprise sci-fi twist that pays off with a fashionable downbeat ending.
Review by Steven West