New Year’s Evil is a 1980 slasher film from B-movie gods Golan-Globus; it stars Roz Kelly—a.k.a. Fonzie’s girlfriend, Pinky Tuscadero, on Happy Days—as Blaze, “the first lady of rock.” It’s about a prank-calling killer who menaces Blaze as she hosts a live music show (which has an on-stage phone bank) for NYE.
“I’M GOING TO COMMIT MURDER AT MIDNIGHT! I’M GOING TO KILL SOMEONE YOU KNOW! SOMEONE CLOSE TO YOUUUUU!”
Even seen-it-all Blaze is unnerved by this guy, who calls himself “EVIL” and whose obviously disguised voice would be freaky as hell even if he wasn’t also threatening her loved ones—like her friend Yvonne (who was slashed to death pre-credits, though Blaze doesn’t know that yet) and her teenaged son, Derek, who’s bummed out for mysterious reasons of his own:
It gets worse:
Jeez, Derek. Anyway, the cops don’t take the caller seriously, but Blaze should indeed be worried. Just look where the call came from, in the grandest of 1980s insane-slasher-killer traditions:
The crazed pay-phone stalker isn’t a patient, though, he’s a fake orderly, who sneaks into the hospital carrying a boom box and a bottle of champagne, ready to seduce the first nurse he encounters. While the TV counts down to midnight in New York City, he knifes the unlucky nurse to death. And he recorded it, too, right onto his boom box, so Blaze could hear when he called her again!
This is pretty much how the movie progresses: “EVIL” dons a disguise (mustache, priest collar, police uniform) and picks out new victims (including a ditzy blonde who opines, “When a girl doesn’t have a date on New Year’s Eve, she’s in Shit City!”) as each time zone in America experiences its New Year. Then he calls Blaze to give her the news. Who is “EVIL” and why is he doing this? What’s his beef with Blaze? Is he attracted to her fame, as a police psychologist stiffly suggests? If the viewer doesn’t figure out who the killer is in act one ... all is revealed in act three. And yes, there’s a twist ending, too.
New Year’s Evil is not your typical early-1980s slasher movie; despite its too-clever pun of a title, it doesn’t have a cast of teenagers or college students. There’s an exploitation-movie factor that evokes contemporaries like Don’t Go in the House or Maniac, both about adult men who stalk women and kill them in variously sick and horrible ways. There’s also a bit of When a Stranger Calls, for obvious reasons. And then there’s the theatrical, new-wave factor, which (along with Roz Kelly’s iridescent costume and make-up) brings to mind another truly unusual Golan-Globus classic: The Apple. Make sure you turn it up during the musical numbers!