The title Bloody New Year feels overly obvious: surely, this is yet another holiday-focused slasher movie in which shrieking teens get picked off one by one. And while there’s a bit of that, this 1987 British release—also known as Horror Hotel and the far more spoiler-y Time Warp Terror—is also far, far weirder than you’d expect.
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After a brief opening depicting a New Year’s Eve party bidding “good-bye 1959, hello 1960,” rendered in “vintage” footage, we cut right to the ‘80s, where a group of friends are killing time at a seedy seaside carnival. After they rescue an American girl, Carol (Catherine Roman), from a trio of leering, chain-wielding bullies—freaking out a fortune-teller and causing untold amounts of property damage in the process—they speed away and then are suddenly at sea. When their sailboat runs into some rocks, they escape to a nearby island, where they discover a curiously empty resort hotel that is, even more curiously, freshly decked out for Christmas… in July.
With its pieces in place, Bloody New Year—the last feature directed by Norman J. Warren (Satan’s Slave, Inseminoid), a contemporary of British “new wave” horror legend Pete Walker—wastes no time in revealing to us, and its slightly slower-to-catch-on characters, that something is very wrong on this island. The reason is heavily foreshadowed early on, but even if you figure it out, you still won’t anticipate any of the bonkers decisions the film makes moment to moment.
Part haunted hotel/Shining riff, part zombie tale (one that cheerfully salutes both the work of Italian master Lucio Fulci and the Evil Dead movies), and part Twilight Zone episode, Bloody New Year has a completely forgettable cast aside from Roman’s level-headed final girl, but is otherwise full of absolutely unforgettable details. Just a few favorites: the impromptu screening of schlocky British sci-fi horror classic Fiend Without a Face, a sudden attack featuring a sentient fishing net, the persistent use of canned sound effects, and the lo-fi special effects, which encompass both the gory (a head gets twisted around… twice!) and the hilarious, as when a stair bannister briefly comes to life and clamps down on the nearest wrist. There’s also a priceless moment when someone falls headfirst into a giant kitchen vat and the vat audibly burps with pleasure. Mmm-mmm. Delicious.
Bloody New Year is streaming free with ads on Tubi and Plex.
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