Bloody New Year (1987)
WRITER: Screenplay by Frazer Pearce
DIRECTOR: Norman J. Warren
STARRING: Suzy Aitchison as Lesley
Nikki Brooks as Janet
Colin Heywood as Spud
Mark Powley as Rick
Catherine Roman as Carol
Julian Ronnie as Tom
QUICK CUT: A group of young adults run away from some self-caused mischief, and end up on a remote island with an empty resort, despite the place being decorated for a New Year's party. And then things get weird.
Lesley - Tom's girlfriend. Get used to those descriptions. No one in this movie is terribly deep. But she's your typical girlfriend character, who isn't half bad at pool.
Janet - Rick's girlfriend, pretty much the typical girly girl, with a fear of elevators. She tends to scream first, act never.
Spud - A rebel without a clue, but he saves Carol from being accosted by filthy carnies, so he's not all bad.
Rick - The closest thing this movie has to a hero, but not the closest this movie has to a personality.
Carol - The lone American in the film, and that's about the most defining characteristic anyone gets. She does end up being the impetus for most of everyone else's actions.
Tom - Leslie's boyfriend, and a bit of a jock. Even if he does scare easily.
THE GUTS: I'm worried at first when the movie starts, since it looks like I've actually gotten someone's home movies after the credits roll, but things fade to normal colour and scratchiness soon enough. Actually, it works as a nice transition that pulls you into the 1960s timeframe.
A group of friends are the last to leave a New Year's party, but one of them stays behind to fix her hair and makeup in the reflection from a window. She reaches out to her reflection and HOLY KAUFMAN the reflection reaches back and grabs her!
I rarely jump, but that got me good. It was so sudden and legit unexpected with just enough quiet to lull you but not so much that you know something is coming, and the movie immediately smash cuts to more modern times in that moment. I actually was so caught off guard, I had to run the movie back to make sure I saw what I thought I saw.
Congrats, movie, you have my attention now!
Our new cast kills some time in the opening scenes at the beach, and then the nearby fair. Nothing special as far as fairs go, until some of them try and help a girl being tormented on a teacup ride by some of the carnies.
Everyone tries to get in the van, while two of the guys draw the attention of their pursuers. And these guys take their carny rides seriously, as they whip out some chains around their hands to smack some shit up. Our heroes, for lack of a better word, duck into the nearby haunted house to try and lose them.
But then their friends crash the jeep through the haunted house, and everyone jumps in the boat they're pulling. Geeze. I was kinda on their side before, they were just helping a girl out, and caused some minor, harmless mischief. No need to break out the fists and chains! But now they've literally destroyed a ride? Yeah, that's not cool, guys.
Speaking of the boat, everyone decides to celebrate their act of wanton vandalism by heading out to the sea for a three hour tour. They get paid back for their fun when the boat grinds over a rock and punctures the hull, taking on water. They get themselves near enough to an island and wade in as the Bismarck goes down.
I bet Carol is just loving that these guys came along and saved her from the teacups now!
They start exploring the island, and they run into what should be a mountain of foreshadowing. Er, barbed wire. Strung along at ankle level, and all over the place. Somehow, this is never, ever, ever mentioned again. Ever. They also conveniently ignore the "KEEP OUT" sign.
Finally they find their way to a convenient hotel on the island, and things get weird inside when they discover everything is decorated for a Christmas/New Years party. In July! Well, good. The title of the movie never would have made sense otherwise!
In classic horror movie tradition, the sextet splits up into pairs to explore the hotel and see if they can find anyone. Or find some showers and towels if no one is there to mind. Probably a moot point since the electricity doesn't seem to work.
After getting scared by the dude at the window, the two in the hotel bar resume trying to get some drinks. The girl picks up a magazine from the 60s and sets it aside, forgotten, while she gets a brandy. There's a nice little spooky bit when the magazine closes itself. OoooOoooo.
Carol and Spud (Yes. Spud. Just go with it.) manage to get a fire going, which puts their survival skills at a top ranking. But the girl is still cold, so he goes off to find a blanket. While he does that, a wild maid appears to deliver one to Carol.
Meanwhile, Janet has managed to find a bath, but she gets interupted by the window gnome. She mistakes him for Rick though, so she thinks nothing of it, and doesn't notice the extending shower head snaking its way through her bubble bath. Again, not that anything happens because of it.
Instead of finding a blanket for Carol, Spud stumbled all the way into a ballroom where he catches glimpses of an ethereal 50s band singing some tunes, and flashing lights. Just as he's about to have a siezure, the show stops, and they're gone.
Rick and Janet are busy getting dressed with some handy clothes left over in the hotel's closets. I hope the owners don't mind. Although, considering they're long dead, probably not. But on the other hand, it looks like we have ghosts, so they may hold a grudge!
Leslie and Tom are busy playing pool and not looking for that fuse box, mostly just killing time. They decide they've done enough of that, and should get onto important things before its dark. As they head off, all the red balls on the table pull themselves together, and one knocked into a corner pocket even rolls out to join them. I gotta say, I am loving all the little spooky touches. They add a nice bit of flavour.
They wander around the basement, searching for fuses, and missing the window gnome stil lurking outside. Tom seems intent on finding them, but Leslie is suddenly horny and pounces the guy. One, it's a good thing there was a convenient mattress laying on the floor where they fell to the otherwise concrete floor. Two, it is a bad BAD idea to pounce a guy holding a lit candle. So many things could have gone wrong when he dropped it! I mean, this cellar is full of old, musty, junk.
Finally, they the fusebox leaps up and hits them, and they switch it on. And sure, the lights come back on, but for some reason, it also ignites a box of fireworks that explode in the corner. Once that little surprise is done with, everyone rushes to the foyer. And a phantom vaccuum cleaner arrives as well, falling down the stairs.
Okay, the vaccuum cleaner that was left on when the power was shut down in order to assault people is weird enough, but I could probably explain it if I tried hard enough. Let's go with a sudden evacuation of the location. Yes, that will do nicely. But why do things that are clearly not plugged in, that would run on either battery or windup power, like a toy Santa on a desk, spring to life when the fusebox is fixed? Sigh.
There's only so much, "Ghosts did it!" I can take.
After everyone gets changed into fresh clothes straight out of the 50s, they all head to the bar to get their drink on. Carol points out what a crazy day she's having, and they joke about maybe they're actually stuck in a time warp. Please don't be the actual explanation.
After taking a jump to the left, and just a step to the right, the gang suddenly hears voices and investigates, but why are they surprised to hear voices? All the tvs popped on and they've been watching those. They've seen a maid and some crooners. And a window gnome. Nothing too surprising to suddenly hear voices. In fact, my mocking is well warranted, as the voices are just coming from the hotel's cinema, currently playing Fiend Without a Face!
A movie about killer brains? I totally intend to review that movie someday, don't worry folks.
Since they have nothing better to do, the gang actually decides to sit and watch the movie for a bit, or until Rick can figure out how to shut it down. And I am fine with this, since even though it's cheesy, it's probably better than this.
The reel stops, but before Rick can do anything about it, the next reel starts spinning on the other projector. Sadly, it's not the rest of the cheesy 1950s classic, but home movies from the Grand Island Hotel they're stuck in. Spud starts making fun of the people on film, and they don't like that too much, so one of them leaps out of the screen to throttle the Last Action Hero.
Spud gets scratched across the face by the film ghost, and then it leaps at the projector, attacking Rick with some spare lengths of film stock littering the floor. He's okay though, which is more than can be said for Spud, because apparently, face scratches are lethal.
Everyone freaks out and runs away, making them easy pickings for whatever is going to come next. Tom and Lesley wander around and find a shack. They try to see if anyone's inside, but Leslie somehow falls through the door and gets caught up in a net, that slowly starts wrapping her up and digging hooks into her.
She freaks the fuck out, screaming about getting it off her face, and I guess she's mostly just caught by surprise, since nets don't cover faces up very much. But if something was suddenly wrapped around you, draped over your skin, I guess that would explain her unease.
Tom does his best to save her, and does a pretty terrible job until he grabs an axe to cut through the net. Me, that would freak me out more. Here, hold still while I slam this axe down to cut the net! NOPE.
Aside from a few scratches, she's none the worse for wear, and they try and find some stuff to clean the cuts. They take a few moments stumbling around the shack, until Tom notices some stuff on the table. Lesley shoves him aside to deal with it herself, and HOLY FUCK SURPRISE CREATURE IN THE TABLE!
The tablecloth burst upwards, and this green, seaweedy thing jumps out, grabbing at Lesley. That is twice the movie has legit got me. They really know how to throw in the surprises in this film, and I kinda love it for that. They don't do that long...slow...quiet...drawn out...scene that you just KNOW is going to scare you. They just throw the shit right out there in the middle of a scene.
ANYways, Tom grabs a nearby harpoon and stabs at the thing until it lets Lesley go. He keeps stabbing until the table is nothing but a solid, normal table again. Spooooky. And uh, he suddenly cries out when something swats him from behind.
Meanwhile, Rick and Janet decide to stay outside, but even that might not be safe. They hear more voices, and soon have to hide from the whispering Others in the woods. If that wasn't enough, the trees start waving wildly. Oh man, run! It's a Great White Pine!!
They run and run, but the laughing voices chase them all the way down to the beach, where the sand reveals, and hides, footprints that come and go. Janet asks why they can't see the people, and Rick has what may be the absolute best "Fucked if I know!!" look on his face.
Suddenly, shit gets serious when they hear planes overhead, and things start exploding. We are suddenly in Vietnam, I guess. I love the smell of bad movies in the morning. It reminds me of Triskaideakfiles.
They find a bombed out, burnt little building, and Rick goes inside to check things out. Inside, he finds a mirror where the window gnome is watching him. Rick does the usual turn around and see no one there, only heightening the confusion.
Back near the hotel, Carol is wandering around aimlessly, waiting for anyone to show up. She thinks she sees Rick, but it's actually the housekeeper from earlier, and she follows her to another of the hotel's outlying buildings.
She follows the woman inside, and I presume it's like the quarters for the hotel's staff and such, but she doesn't find anyone there. What she does find, is a blizzard in the closet. No really. She opens a door, and gets covered in snow. In the middle of summer.
The blizzard finally stops, and Carol opens her eyes to find she is back outside, strangely enough. She's as confused as I am by this, and it's not helped when we cut to a shot of a tiny Carol that has been shrunk down by aliens and stuck into a jar...no wait, it's just a doll in a snowglobe.
Lesley, Rick, and Janet turn back up, and Lesley drags everyone out to the fisherman's hut to show them the cool table, and to try and help Tom. But when they get there, he's gone, and so are the back rooms, as Rick discovers. He tries opening a door and steps out into thin air over a cliff.
He gets pulled back inside by all the girls, and they all agree that for the sake of masculinity this will NEVER BE SPOKEN OF AGAIN.
When they try and go outside to check the bottom of the cliff for Tom, BAM the dude from the teacup ride is waiting outside! What d'you know, that plot is actually coming back to play a role. He goes after Rick and they punch each other up a bit, and then he goes for Lesley, and his hand goes right through her!
It sure looks like she's done for from that, but you notice there's no blood, and then we see her face is...weird. Skeletal a little, or covered in barnacles, I can't decide which way to go with that. She easily picks the attacker up and hurls him through a wall.
Rick tosses a net over her causing some deja vu, and lights off a smoke flare signal thing, as everyone runs out of the shack. He locks the door as best he can behind them, and suggests going back to the hotel.
Janet's had enough of everything, and runs off to try and just swim back to the mainland, which may be the smartest idea anyone has had the whole movie. Or at least, it was until the ground tries to eat her. Did not see that coming. The other two pull her out though, so that was a minor non-danger, really.
They hide out under a rocky outcropping straight out of Lord of the Rings, and gather their thoughts and strentgh. Rick decides they're safer than the others because they know shit's going weird. Yeah, because knowing the island is prone to random table attacks will save you.
As if on cue, the rocks begin to come at them. They figure it MUST be the other guys from the fair, and rush back to the hotel. Again.
So back to the hotel we go, and they try and lock all the doors in a building they're unfamiliar with. Even if they succeed, the way this place is doing spooky things, that won't help much.
The Window gnome smashes out of the mirrorverse behind the bar in the lounge where the girls find him. Carol smashes him good over the head, while Janet stands and screams. Damnit, Janet...
Janet runs off and one of the guys from the fair comes crashing through a window, scaring her even more. As he advances menacingly, even more menacing laughter fills the hotel.
Lesley pops out of the ceiling, pushing the guy down to the floor. She climbs down, grabs his head, and twists it off like a can of soda.
Janet runs away, but gets stopped when one of the figureheads on the bannister grabs her arm while Lesley creeps forward. Rick shows up with a gun and shoots her in the stomach, which explodes like a popped balloon, sputtering out air and black guts.
They hack the figurehead off the railing, and Janet gets free. They take her to another room to recover, and that still doesn't feel terribly safe. And when they're gone, the severed, wooden snake-like head on the floor disappears, and returns to the top of the post where it was, like nothing ever happened.
Janet has the brilliant realisation that the guys from the fair must have a boat if they're rampaging through the island, and they go looking. They don't get very far when they discover Tom at the front door, not looking too great. They find him a chair so he can recover.
Since Tom is catatonic and babbling about Lesley, and Janet's a bit of a wreck, the other Rick and Carol head off to find the boat, having the last vestiges of sanity in the hotel.
They catch sight of something in the woods, and it runs away from them. Rick sees this as a promising sign, and decides to run after it, for a change. Dude, I get your thinking, but if something on this island wants to get AWAY from you? Let it.
What they do end up finding, is a bunch of mirror shards hanging from trees like windchimes. No, that's perfectly normal, keep going guys.
They keep going and find the wreckage of a crashed plane, a makeshift shelter, and a radio calling for help. Carol finds yet another mirror, and once again the window gnome appears, before his head goes all Scanners on them.
After staring at his remains for the two seconds before it disappears, Rick remembers they're supposed to be looking for a boat, and drags Janet away from whatever the hell.
Janet's been busy caring for Tom, who finally reveals his unsurprising true colours, and he's on the side of the hotel now too, speaking in a creepy voice. Janet realises the folly of over-barricading the door and only barely manages to squeeze out before Tom follows. She shoves the Christmas tree in the foyer over onto him, and gets a little bit further away in her escape.
But Tom doesn't give up that easily, and chases her to an elevator, which he gets the grate slammed on his hand a few times. Janet gets the gate closed, but then he just reaches through to grab her ankle. Points for persistence, at least!
She manages to hit a button and get the elevator moving, severing off one of Tom's arms. And I am not sure how and where to count these dead guy's deaths, really.
Janet thinks she's safe in the elevator, but ohhh no! Not in this hotel! In this hotel, the walls come alive and try to grab you! And this effect must have been quite something back in the 80s, even if it is kinda ripped off from Elm Street.
The last carny arrives to chase them around some more, but runs afoul of the hotel. It diverts him and flings stuff at him until he is shoved into a giant, boiling pot and devoured. This is what happens if you don't regularly feed your hotels, people.
Despite helping them, the kitchen starts flinging stuff at our last two survivors, including knives, making them duck into a storage room to avoid getting stabby. They watch through a window as the kitchen gives up and puts everything back in place by running the film in reverse.
Once the kitchen is back to the way it was, the pair hesitantly step out of their safe haven, and give a look around. The kitchen seems fine, and even handily opens up the door for them to leave. Talk about your schizophrenic ghosts.
We see Lesley putting herself back together elsewhere, as Carol and Rick run into the ballroom, where they are quickly closed in. Someone appears on stage and introduces them as the last two contestants in the dance contest.
The emcee, of all people, gives us the exposition we've been waiting for to answer the "What in the hell?" questions from the past hour. It seems that the government sent that plane up with some weird cloaking device, and it turns out that the device was capable of shattering time itself, so when things went wrong...creepy spooky ghost island, I guess.
Where the hell is The Doctor and Amy when you need them?
So yeah, everyone who died there is trapped in a state between life and death, and this is pissing them off something fierce. Well, I will give the movie this; that is the most unique reasoning behind a haunted hotel I've seen in a very long time. Although I'm not sure bending time and space scifi stuff is at home in a horror movie, but whatever. I like the freshness.
Having delivered the exposition dump, the hotel lets the pair out of the ballroom. Yes, it literally locked them up so they could not escape being told the plot of the movie.
They lock themselves in the lounge, with Carol pointing out the pointlessness of it, at least. The room attacks them, naturally. Pool balls, pool tables, paper, Spud, carnies...you name it! It's a fun terrorising time!
Carol and Rick actually do a fair job of defending themselves, and hold their own until things calm down. Unfortunately, 'calm down' means all the zombie temporal spirit people come walking in to chant at them.
The pool table starts spinning around, so the living people jump on it for a ride. For some reason, the ghosts or whatever can't seem to grab them. You would think the hotel and the ghosts could better co-ordinate things. Anyways, the table heads for a window and spits our remaining heroes outside.
So, the haunted hotel still can't decide if it wants to help people or kill them. Great.
The two run for the boat with absolutely zero trouble along the way. I guess the hotel got bored. Or so things would seem, if they weren't just about to escape, and Janet appears begging Rick to not leave her behind.
Being the gallant hero he is, he rushes back to save her, and ends up falling into quicksand. All Carol can do is watch from the boat as he sinks further and further. Which would have been a much better scene, if this was Lesley in the boat, who said she couldn't swim.
Rick sees a hand and thinks he's saved, but no! It's one of the carnies! But still, there was really NO good option for it to be, was there? Carol is the only person who might actually save him, and yeah, boat.
So Rick comes to a terrible end when the carny uses an outboard motor to slice his head off. Now, was that really necessary? The island already had him sucked neck deep in the ground. Just let him die with what little dignity he has left!
Oh, but the movie isn't done yet. It has one last surprise left as Carol, whom you would think is safe, and is the last to escape like in any good horror movie, gets sucked down through the boat and trapped to the same fate as the rest! Good little twist.
But wait, there's more! as one laaast teeny twist as we see her trapped on the other side of the reflective window, only able to watch the true hotel, the modern, damaged husk, spray painted by vandals, and people dancing in the ruins in modern times, instead of the healthy, old, perfectly kept version we saw everyone running around in from the start. Nice, they were trapped there the whole time, with no real hope, weren't they? I like that.
Video: It's okay to look at. It's clearly old, and no one did much with it before it hit DVD, but it's clear to look at. Heck, it's so well lit, you see the fusebox ages before the people in the room with it.
Audio: Standard stereo mix, with good enough seperation. No big surprises.
Sound Bite: "At least we have a better chance than the others. We know there's something wrong." Yeah, great logic, Rick.
Body Count - Keeping in mind that things get weird with deaths and zombies, so here we go...
1 - Spud dies from uh, scratches to the face. And some strangling, I guess. Almost 37 minutes into the film.
2 - Tom, off camera, I guess. Poked in the back by Lesley ghost.
3 - Lesley, also off camera, but she keeps going as a baked potato.
4 - Carny number one, killed by whatever Lesley is now.
5 - Carny number two, head twisted off by Lesley.
6 - Tom finally, actually dead, maybe, after the elevatoring.
7 - Janet, sucked into the elevator.
8 - Third carny, boiled for dinner.
9 - Rick, sliced up by a rotor.
10 - Carol, sucked up into the boat.
Best Corpse: My vote goes for the poor carny who gets his head popped off like a dandelion. From the moment Lesley burst out of the ceiling, it was a fun sequence and a good climax.
Blood Type - B-: The effects are decent in the movie, and I particularly love the table monster. There's not a ton of blood itself, but there's some. And the window gnome pilot's exploding head was well done!
Sex Appeal - A couple teasing scenes with the girls, but not much else.
Movie Review: Like I said, I give the movie credit for creativity. This is not your everyday plot. There are legit surprises, and bizarre ideas floating through this plot. The biggest failing is that the characters are terribly bland. I can't remember much about any of them, besides Carol beign American, and everyone else is British. The idea is almost too bizarre, and likely to turn people off, and ultimately goes nowhere with too much padding and going in circles. But it's not a total waste of celluloid, just cheaply made for what it wanted to do, I think. Three out of five attacking elevators.
Entertainment Value: When I say I was legitimately surprised by this movie several times, I meant it. It didn't scare me ever, but it definitely startled me in my chair. It had my attention, waiting to see what it did next. And even knowing it could do anything at any time, it STILL surprised me. And that is rare, and needs to be highlighted. I almost feel bad that I felt compelled to mention the good bits, because now you'll see them coming. Still, don't let that stop you, some of those things need to be seen for themselves. And if you want a horror movie about a haunted building with a different set up, well, this movie is for you! I really enjoyed the circumstances and the events, even if I never cared for the people on screen. I do wonder how much inspiration for Lost came from this movie, since I found any number of parallels. Four out of five baked potato zombies.