Of all the rare and offbeat reissue choices that Scream Factory has made, amongst the niche-est of the niche must be their reissues of slasher flicks from the early days of Golan and Globus-era Cannon Films. For example, their two-fer blu-ray edition of X-Ray and Schizoid was a totally unexpected but welcome surprise for fans of trashy ’80s horror. They’ve returned to this obscure area once again to produce a blu-ray special edition of New Year’s Evil – and the result proves that trash-horror lightning can strike twice.
Things start off beautifully with a nice transfer of this title: the movie takes place entirely at night, with lots of dimly-lit exteriors, but the cinematography by a young Thomas Ackerman is beautifully lit. The transfer makes the most of this asset, with the exteriors having a nice depth and the neon colors really popping off the screen during the t.v. show sequences. The film’s original mono mix is presented in lossless form and sounds pretty good for a vintage mix, adding some depth to the music.
Scream Factory also makes a quality effort in the extras area. First up is a commentary track with director Emmett Alston and moderator Bill Olsen. This track can be slow going at times, with a second half that loses steam, but Alston offers some interesting info about the inner workings of Cannon and his working relationship with producer/sleaze mogul Billy Fine, who married one of the film’s cast members. Olsen’s questions are hit-and-miss but there are plenty of them and they keep the director talking. Also included is the film’s theatrical trailer, a trashy classic that plays up the film’s bevy of stalking scenes and pseudo-punk rock.
However, the key extra here is “Call Me Eeeevil,” a retrospective featurette that runs just over 37 minutes. Ackerman appears here as well as cast members Kip Niven, Taaffe O’Connell and Grant Cramer. Ackerman and Niven both remember the film warmly as a “first time” experience: it was the first feature for the former and the first leading role for the latter. Cramer has a fun story about the wild audition he gave to get his role and O’Connell brings a charming enthusiasm to tales of filming her death scene and making out with Niven on-camera. Best of all, everyone has the right attitude about the film: no one pretends it’s an unsung classic but all make a good case for its cheap thrill charms.
All in all, this is another pleasant retro-horror surprise from Scream Factory and a must for slasher devotees and Cannon collectors.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of New Year’s Evil, click here.