|Bloody New Year|
|Directed by||Norman J. Warren|
|Screenplay by||Frazer Pearce|
|Produced by||Hayden Pearce|
|Edited by||Carl Thomson|
Bloody New Year (alternatively titled Time Warp Terror) is a 1987 British horror film directed by Norman J. Warren and starring Suzy Aitchison, Nikki Brooks, Colin Heywood, Mark Powley, Catherine Roman, and Julian Ronnie. The film's plot concerns a group of British teenagers trapped in a haunted hotel on a remote island.
In 1959, a group of partygoers celebrate New Year's Eve at the Grand Island Hotel before mysteriously disappearing. Decades later, young couples Lesley and Tom, and Janet and Rick, together with their friend, Spud, are spending the day at a seaside funfair when they notice an American tourist named Carol being terrorised by local hooligans. The group outwit the hooligans and rescue Carol. To escape the pursuing hooligans, they take a boat out to sea, only to run aground and be left stranded on Grand Island. They stumble across the hotel, now seemingly deserted; the lobby is adorned with Christmas decorations, despite the fact that it is July.
Spud looks for a towel for Carol, who is shivering and damp. While he is gone, the apparition of a maid enters and gives Carol a towel. Meanwhile, Spud hears music coming from the empty ballroom. He sees a duo performing on stage only for them to vanish before his eyes. In one of the guestrooms, Janet and Rick swap their ruined clothes for 1950s attire, but Janet is suddenly startled by the apparition of a woman that she sees in a mirror. While searching for the building's circuit breakers, Lesley and Tom are disturbed by fireworks that inexplicably ignite.
Later, the group find the hotel's empty theatre, which is screening the film Fiend Without a Face. Rick, convinced that someone is staging an elaborate prank, tries to turn off the projector but inadvertently plays a promotional reel for the hotel showing partygoers in front of the entrance. A figure bursts out of the screen, kills Spud, and vanishes. Trying to find a way off the island, the survivors separate and are each plagued by supernatural occurrences: Lesley and Tom find a cottage near the shore, where Lesley is attacked by a monstrous figure that disappears after Tom spears it; Janet and Rick hear disembodied voices in the woods and see a plane crash into a nearby building; and Carol is suddenly caught in a snowstorm inside the hotel.
Lesley summons the group to the cottage to find Tom. There, they are attacked by the hooligans, who have followed the group to the island in another boat. One of them kills Lesley by impaling her through the abdomen, upon which she transforms into a zombie and throws the hooligan to his death. Back at the hotel, the disfigured Lesley kills another of the hooligans by twisting his head off, while Janet is attacked by a banister carving that comes to life. Rick takes an old shotgun and shoots Lesley, apparently killing her.
An injured Tom returns to the hotel and is cared for by Janet. Rick and Carol search for the hooligans' boat and discover another plane crash site. Tom transforms into a zombie and attacks Janet. She flees into a lift but is pursued by Tom, who is seemingly killed when the rising platform traps and severs his arm. Meanwhile, Janet is engulfed by a featureless figure that absorbs her into the walls of the lift. Elsewhere, Carol and Rick witness a series of apparitions and poltergeist activities, and Ace is killed in the kitchen after falling into a large vat. Carol and Rick flee to the ballroom, where they are greeted by a woman resembling the zombified Lesley. She tells them that they are trapped in a time warp created when an aircraft carrying an experimental cloaking device crashed on the island on New Year's Eve, 1959.
Carol and Rick flee the hotel, pursued by their friends and the hooligans – all now resurrected as zombies. They make it to the shoreline and Carol manages to board the hooligans' boat, but Rick is trapped in quicksand and killed by one of the zombified hooligans. Carol is pulled under water and re-emerges behind a mirror in the ballroom, where she sees her friends join the New Years' Eve party. As the picture fades to black, a woman's scream is heard.
Warren was approached by Maxine Julius to make a horror film for her and developed the plot over seven days with line producer Hayden Pearce. Bloody New Year was meant as a homage to 1950s B movies, the film being set on an island trapped in a time warp where it is always New Year's Eve, 1959. Originally the entire film was to have been set in the 1950s, but this idea was abandoned due to budget constraints. According to Warren, the premise was inspired by the real-life contamination of a Scottish island as the result of a failed disease control experiment.
Bloody New Year was filmed in June. It was shot mostly in and around the seaside resort of Barry Island in South Wales, with Friars Point House serving as the filming location for the Grand Island Hotel. The fairground scenes were filmed at Barry Island's long-running funfair with minimal supervision from the owners, who gave the crew full use of the site and attractions at a cost of £300 (equivalent to £885 in 2019) for a week's shooting. To secure extras for these scenes, the crew offered free rides to members of the public. The ballroom scenes were filmed at The Paget Rooms theatre in Penarth and the scenes of Janet's death in a disused tower block.
The film's opening credits play over black-and-white footage presenting the 1959 Grand Island Hotel New Year's Eve party. The extras playing the dancing hotel guests were members of a local rock 'n' roll preservation society and worked unpaid. The extracts from Fiend Without a Face were supplied free by its producer, Richard Gordon, a friend of Warren who had produced his earlier film Inseminoid. A stunt scene in which the character Rick opens the back door of a cottage only to find himself dangling over a cliff edge was performed by actor Mark Powley without safety equipment. Warren had envisaged a particularly bloody scene for the film's climax, where the zombified "Dad" (Steve Emerson) kills Rick by slicing his head with an outboard motor propeller. Ultimately the violence was toned down to ensure that the British Board of Film Classification would award the film a 15 certificate instead of a more restrictive 18.
Warren commented negatively on the film. In one interview, he described Bloody New Year as "a very terrible experience for me; in fact it turned out to be a bloody nightmare. We had the wrong producers on that film and they didn't know anything about horror. So the film lacks in every department and by the end of it, my heart just wasn't in it." He added that the producers "wanted to make the film cheaply and terribly quick" and that this was to the detriment of the music and sound effects. In another interview, Warren criticised the music, stating that it "just doesn't work". He added: "On the second day of dubbing, I must confess I gave up on the film. I'd run out of fight, and just sat there and let them go through the motions." Warren said that his experiences on Bloody New Year put him off making any more films.
Release and reception
The film was not given a cinema release in the United Kingdom. It was released on home video in the UK by Braveworld/IVS in September 1987. In the United States, the film was released directly to VHS and Betamax on 22 October 1987 through Academy Home Entertainment.
Kim Newman describes the film as a "feeble dump-bin video quickie". Dennis Schwartz, in his review for Ozus' World Movie Reviews, calls it a "goofy film" with "brutal" dialogue, "cheesy" direction and "not much plot". According to Jake Dee of JoBlo.com, the film's "cheap and silly" practical effects are reminiscent of a "fun early Herschell Gordon Lewis movie". Dee adds that the film "plays like a haunted house flick in the interiors and a traditional zombie flick in the exteriors, with the middle ground a breeding place for the genuinely odd and unsettling amalgamation of both."
The website AllMovie gives Bloody New Year one star out of five. Commentator Cavett Binion writes that the film employs a "wacky but interesting supernatural theme" with "silly special effects". He considers it "derivative of Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead and Lucio Fulci's The Beyond, minus those films' extreme approach to horror". Writing for Video Watchdog magazine, Richard Harland Smith describes the film as a "barrel-scraping rehash of horror tropes from Shock Waves (creepy island hotel), Dawn of the Dead (bickering TV commentators), The Evil Dead (girl-next-door turned cackling, whey-faced ghoul) and even Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo." He adds that while the premise is reasonable, the film fails to "[particularise] the horror beyond a few double exposure ghosties and some haunted hardware."
Preston Barta of the Denton Record-Chronicle remarks that Bloody New Year "could perhaps be best described as an episode of Scooby-Doo that is sent through the filter of The Shining and The Evil Dead", adding that in some places "it's got early Sam Raimi written all over it." He criticises various aspects of the film: "The drama is no good, the characters are all jerks (so it's OK that they kick the bucket) and the dialogue is elementary." Writing for Sight & Sound magazine, Anne Billson compares the film to the Japanese horror comedy House (1977) and its production values to those of "early Doctor Who".
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