Bloody New Year Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Vinegar Syndrome
Directed by Norman J. Warren
Written by Frazer Pearce
1987, 94 minutes, Rated R
Released on January 29th, 2019
Catherine Roman as Carol
Suzy Aitchison as Lesley
Nikki Brooks as Janet
Colin Heywood as Spud
Mark Powley as Rick
Julian Ronnie as Tom
Five British friends are enjoying a sunny July afternoon at a local amusement park when they cross paths with some hooligans causing trouble on one of the rides. They rescue the goons’ intended target, a pretty American girl, and flee deeper into the park. The kids get chased through various attractions before speeding away in their car with the hoods in pursuit. They get away and opt to go sailing with their new friend. Things are going great until they hit a rock and spring a leak. The boat sinks leaving them stranded on a remote island. They explore the terrain and discover the Grand Island Hotel, a large resort that appears to be the only building around. They enter and find the place empty and decorated for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Our heroes split up to check the place out and this is where things get strange. The hotel is haunted by not just one ghost, but an entire ballroom full of spirits. The malevolent spooks attack the kids on several occasions, adding them to their numbers before chasing down their next victim. If anyone is to survive this ordeal they must find a way off the island and time is running out.
Bloody New Year is a haunted house picture with elements of the slasher film thrown in for good measure. The main location is an old hotel perpetually stuck in 1959, and ready to host a New Year’s Eve party that never ends. The ghosts appear in the background and around the edges of the frame before moving front and center and there are a lot of gags featuring objects resetting themselves once people leave the room. Errant strains of laughter fill the surrounding woods and footprints from an invisible source track the beach. Music fills the grand ballroom and an old movie plays in the hotel’s cinema. Appliances move on their own and the furniture comes to life in unexpectedly aggressive ways. In short, this place is bonkers.
Directed by Norman J. Warren (Inseninoid), this is a deliberately-paced creeper that does a reasonable job creating suspense as the dead pop up quite frequently and keep things interesting. Frazer Pearce’s screenplay is loaded with ghostly gags and runs the characters through their paces at a decent tempo. The haunting is caused by a traumatic event from New Year’s Eve as 1959 rolled into 1960. The details are gradually revealed in a satisfying manner that will keep audiences’ attention. In a nice touch, the kids come out of the water to the hotel where they find dry clothes in one of the rooms. The wardrobe is vintage 1950’s style placing them firmly within their surroundings. Unfortunately the cast is largely uninspired and merely move from one scene to the next. Warren knows how to stage a scare, but isn’t as adept when working with actors. The script builds one supernatural sequence after another, growing larger until they become a bit overwhelming and turn comical.
The kills are inventive and fresh, but the gore effects are merely serviceable. The ghostly shenanigans are more successful with furniture and appliances moving unassisted and the appearance of spectral figures. One highlight comes as a victim is attacked in an elevator leading to an unsettling resolution. The ending drags on a bit with a series of twists, but these are mostly satisfying and hold together well. Bloody New Year is an interesting movie that benefits from its supernatural elements and should hold your attention. Some of the ideas are too big for the budget, but there is a lot of creativity on display here keeping the film worth checking out.
Video and Audio:
The feature is preceded by a title card explaining that the original negative has been destroyed and the only available source was a rare 35mm archival print. The film has some rough edges and a recurring chemical stain throughout, but the 2K scan is clean and bright. The shortcomings of the material are front and center, but the efforts are quite welcome. The previous DVD did not have the same video problems, but the image was not as colorful and sharp.
A DTS-HD MA 1.0 preserves the original mono recording and fares better than the video counterpart. Dialogue is always clear and free from distortion and music cues are full without being intrusive.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
Director Norman J. Warren provides a thoughtful audio commentary that shares a lot of information from the production and offers some background on the project.
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