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BLOODY NEW YEAR (1986)
[aka Time Warp Terror]

"Dead or alive, we are all caught in this awful,
angry half-world. And we can’t escape, ever. Ever."

bny.jpg (9991 bytes) Director: Norman J. Warren

Starring: Catherine Roman, Mark Powley, Nikki Brooks, Suzy Aitchison, Julian Ronnie, Colin Heywood

Screenplay: Frazer Pearce

trans.GIF (93 bytes)

Synopsis: During a New Year’s Eve party, 1959, a girl disappears when dragged into a mirror by her own reflection. More than twenty years later, Carol (Catherine Roman), an American girl visiting England, is harassed by three thugs while visiting a fair. A group of teenagers rescues her and, after being pursued for some time by the thugs, manages to escape. The group goes sailing in a small boat owned by Rick (Mark Powley), but runs into trouble when Spud (Colin Heywood) steers them onto rocks near a small island. The teenagers wade ashore and try to find shelter. After passing the wreck of a small plane, the group discovers the Grand Island Hotel. Strangely, the hotel appears to be deserted, and although it is July, is freshly decorated for Christmas. Unable to locate anyone, the teenagers nevertheless decide to stay. While having a drink in the bar, Lesley (Suzy Aitchison) is startled by a face at the window. Her boyfriend, Tom (Julian Ronnie), rushes outside, but no-one is there. While exploring, Spud hears music and voices, and then sees a fifties-type band performing in the darkness of the hotel’s ballroom. However, when he approaches, the performers seem to vanish. When it is discovered that the clothing present in the rooms upstairs is all fifties party clothes, the group concludes that the hotel holds "theme parties". Hearing voices from nearby, they discover a small screening room where a film is playing. While the others settle in to watch, Rick goes around to find the projectionist. However, the projection room is empty. At the conclusion of the film, one projector shuts off, while a second comes to life. In the cinema, the rest of the group sees what looks like home movies. Spud plays up to them, acting out what he sees until, without warning, a man emerges from the film image and attacks him. Before his friends can react, Spud is dead, and his attacker has vanished into the lens of the projector, which explodes. The horrified teenagers rush from the hotel, desperate to find a way off the island, but soon discover that their nightmare has only just begun.

Comments: As a follow-up to Satan’s Slave (1976), Inseminoid (Horror Planet) (1982) and Alien Prey (1984), Bloody New Year is enough to make me add Norman J. Warren’s name to my personal list of nominations for the worst director of all time. The film’s only saving grace, if indeed you can call it a grace, is that it is so relentlessly stupid as to almost make it into the realm of the genuinely entertaining. Viewers who can struggle through the dull opening thirty minutes are rewarded with a parade of some of the weirdest (and cheapest) "monsters" in film history. Would you believe a killer vacuum cleaner? – a deadly fishing net? – a mutating table? They’re all here, and many more. If the object of this movie was to prove that British teenagers could be just as moronic and objectionable, and die just as messily, as their American counterparts, then I guess you’d have to say this is a job well done. On every other level, the film is an abject failure.

The only thing in Bloody New Year that resembles an actual performance comes from Catherine Roman as Carol, the token American. She’s the level-headed, unhysterical one, qualities that would usually qualify her as "last girl", as film analyst Carol Clover phrases it. However, along with its silly monsters, the film’s other redeeming feature is its ruthlessness, and Carol goes the way of her companions (although in a sense, she still is "last girl", I guess). The rest of the acting is terrible, the dialogue so bad that it may well have been improvised ("I’ve been saving myself for a gorgeous American girl to come along and look after her," is one of the more coherent lines), and the direction aggravatingly heavy-handed, full of camera zooms meant to point out what the "significant" bits are, just in case we’re all as stupid as the characters in the film and can’t work it out for ourselves.

There are, very briefly, a couple of effective moments – one of the island’s former victims looking out sadly from within a mirror, Carol catching a glimpse of her ultimate fate in a snow dome – but they’re so quiet that they’re almost lost within all the noise and idiocy. Bloody New Year’s biggest flaw is in actually attempting to find an explanation for the goings-on on Grand Island. While I’m prepared to accept that the crashing of an experimental plane might somehow be able to produce a time warp, I can’t really see how it could possibly turn a fishing net feral, or cause a table to sprout a monster from its midriff. In cinematic terms, nothing in this film can compete with the included excerpt from Arthur Crabtree’s Fiend Without A Face (1959). Genre buffs enjoying that may also wish to amuse themselves with the film’s apparent belief that I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957) starred Michael Landis….