After diving into all the great Christmas-themed slashers and horror movies like “Silent Night, Deadly Night,” “Santa's Slay,” “Christmas Evil,” “Saint Nick,” and many others, it’s sometimes hard to believe there’s another great holiday to revel in just around the corner. There might not be as many films directly centered on ushering in the New Year, but there’s plenty to keep you entertained for a few days and nights.
I realize that not everyone smiles in glee like I do as teenagers get axed and knifed. Some folks just want some alternate choices in the face of all the countdowns and variety shows they’re bombarded with every year. The list I’ve put together includes not only slasher and horror flicks, but disaster, sci-fi, and action-oriented ones as well.
“New Year’s Evil” tells the tale of a Punk Rock and New Wave radio DJ who receives a phone call stating someone will be murdered in each time zone as the New Year rings in. The bad news is the last victim will be her.
Made in 1980, “New Year’s Evil’s” Kip Niven will be familiar to those who grew up on a diet of prime-time dramas and action series like “T.J. Hooker,” “Knight Rider,” “CHiPs,” “Barnaby Jones,” and the likes. It also features actor Grant Cramer from “Killer Klowns from Outer Space,” “Santa Claws,” and “The Young and the Restless.” Lead Roz Kelly is probably best known for playing Pinky Tuscadero on the sitcom “Happy Days.”
“Terror Train” centers around six college kids whose prank blew up in their faces years earlier. The gang is now being hunted down one-by-one by a masked killer during a New Year's party aboard a speeding train. It's hard to know what you're running from when the murderer keeps changing his costume from one victim to the next.
Imagine “Silver Streak” or “Murder on the Orient Express” merged together with “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th.” The “Halloween” comparison is made even easier to accept with the presence of Jamie Lee Curtis as one of the targeted kids. Director Roger Spottiswoode went on to helm several high-energy Hollywood hits like the James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies,” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “The 6th Day,” and the action / comedy “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” with Sylvester Stallone and Estelle Getty.
In “End of Days,” Satan is on the hunt for his bride as the turn of a new century arrives. An ex-police officer who heads up a security service is recruited by the Church to stop him.
Arnold Schwarzenegger had already battled cyborgs, aliens, Batman, terrorists, a postman, kindergarten children, warlords, and a game show host by 1999. The only person left for the future Governator to square off with WAS the Devil as the 20th Century came to a close. Director Peter Hyams ("2010,” “Outland,” “Timecop”) pushes Schwarzenegger through this ambitious mix of 1970’s satanic panic and 1980’s action hero fare as he goes up against the swaggering and confidently wicked Gabriel Byrne as Lucifer reborn.
“The Poseidon Adventure” takes us on a luxurious cruise liner set sail across the seas for a lavish New Year's celebration. The festivities come to an end as the ship is capsized and completely flipped over by a monstrous wave. A group of passengers make their way through the vessel to escape certain doom as the ship begins to sink.
Aside from “Airport,” “The Poseidon Adventure” kicked off a decade of disaster films which saw millions of innocent people suffering at the hands of earthquakes, towering infernos, avalanches, plane crashes, and a huge meteor throughout the 1970s. The poor souls attempting to climb to the top of the bottom of the ship are forced to face all sorts of deadly booby-traps and obstacles set in their path by Director Ronald Neame (“Scrooge,” “Meteor”) and Producer Irwin Allen (“Lost in Space,” “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” “Land of the Giants”) from a best-selling novel by Paul Gallico. Gene Hackman leads the group, which includes Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Roddy McDowell, and several others, through the maze of destruction.
“Strange Days” takes place in the "futuristic" Los Angeles of 1999. A former cop peddles virtual reality experiences to anyone willing to pay. He stumbles upon a police conspiracy that puts his life and those around him in danger. It all comes down to a deadly confrontation in the crowded city streets during the city’s New Year’s celebration.
A forgotten gem of the science fiction genre probably thanks to the fact that it’s aged because of the date it’s set in, “Strange Days” is full of talent that makes it worth a watch not only at the end of the year, but any time you can catch it. Ralph Fiennes stars with Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis as they wade through a gritty and dark vision of our future. The story was written by blockbuster filmmaker James Cameron (“Avatar” – duh) and directed by Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty”).
I trust you’ll find something here you’ll enjoy to pair up with the more traditional programming we all grew up on like “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” and Garry Marshall’s modern classic “New Year’s Eve.” I hope you could sense the sarcasm the latter half of that sentence was typed in.
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