• Bloody New Year (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: January 29th, 2019.
    Directed by: Norman J. Warren
    Cast: Suzy Aitchison, Nikki Brooks, Daniel James, Mark Powley
    Year: 1986
    Purchase From Amazon

    Bloody New Year – Movie Reviews:

    The final feature film directed by the great Norman J. Warren opens with a prologue where we see some grainy black and white footage documenting the festivities of a New Year’s Eve party welcoming in 1959 playing out over the opening credits. From there, we heard to a lovely British beach where people frolic about and enjoy the lovely weather. Here we meet Rick (Mark Powley) and his super cute girlfriend Janet (Nikki Brooks) and their friends Lesley (Suzy Aitchison), Tom (Julian Ronnie) and an annoying guy named Spud (Colin Heywood). When Rick spies some thugs harassing an America tourist named Carol (Catherine Roman) on the Tilt-A-Whirl, he steps in and before you know it, chaos erupts! They hide out in a spookshow but wind up making a break for it and eventually take off in a sailboat to get away from the troublemakers.

    It turns out that they kind of suck at sailing, and eventually they ram into some rocks and sink their boat. Thankfully, they’re close by an island and they manage to make it to shore pretty easily. Here they come across a stately old building called The Grand Island Hotel. Oddly enough, it’s all decked out in Christmas decorations, despite the fact that it’s the middle of July. It also seems to be abandoned, yet somehow in very nice shape looking very recently lived in. Regardless, our sextet makes themselves at home, splitting off to make out a bit here and there, and not too long after, strange things start happening.

    And we’ll leave it at that, because this movie is fucking wacky enough that it’s best to go in pretty blind.

    Warren’s film benefits from a pretty quick pace, not really bothering with giving his characters much in the way of personality but instead keeping our attention first with some action and then with an ever-increasing sense of the bizarre. It doesn’t take long for the movie to get to the island and from there, we bear witness to strange things aplenty as the film mixes up supernatural horror with slasher movie elements and wraps it all up in big, soppy blanket of absurdity.

    None of the performances are really all that good, but every one in the cast is perfectly fine in their respective part. If no one here is all that remarkable, neither are they particularly bad. Sufficient is probably the best way to describe the acting. Powely, who has mostly done British TV work but who did have a decent supporting role in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson, is likeable enough as the male lead. Nikki Brooks chews the scenery at the end of the movie but somehow its fitting. Catherine Roman’s American heritage has no bearing on the plot whatsoever but she’s fine in her part, while Suzy Aitchison, another British TV stalwart having appeared on Mr. Bean and Are You Being Server?, is dressed in such a way as to make her character look much older than she is. Colin Heywood as Spud has an annoying speaking voice while Julian Ronnie seems like a nice enough guy, cast here as the dork of the bunch.

    The movie benefits immensely from some great location work. The Grand Hotel isn’t quite The Overlook but it gets the job done, and the various outlying buildings and wrecked planes add to the mystery. The craggy shore of the island is also a boon, it looks remote enough, pretty and scenic but also potentially dangerous. Some of the effects work featured in the picture is also pretty solid, never quite 100% convincing but good enough in the way that the best low budget horror movie effects tend to be.

    The film also features a few songs on its soundtrack from a British band called Cry No More, the two most memorable selections being Recipe For Romance (Parlophone Records released this as a single in 1987), which plays a few times in the movie and in its complete form over the end credits, and Caveman Rock which plays from the jukebox in the hotel. Both of these songs, especially Recipe, will get stuck in your head for a while once the movie is over with.

    Bloody New Year – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Bloody New Year to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation framed at 1.85.1 widescreen “newly scanned & restored in 2k from 35mm archival elements.” A disclaimer before the movie starts notes that VS did the best they could to restore this but the fact of the matter is that the elements were not stored properly and there was only so much they could do. As such, be prepared for emulsion marks, water damage and print damage as well as some flicker and some noticeable fluctuations in color density throughout. Having said that, detail is probably better than you’d expect it to be and during the more stable scenes – which is the bulk of the film – colors look good. This doesn’t measure up to the 4k scans done from 35mm negatives that the label has treated us to over the last few years but given what they had to work with, it’s hard to imagine it looking a whole lot better than it does.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is decent enough. There is some occasional hiss and a pop here and there but the track is balanced well and generally pretty clean. The dialogue stays audible enough and the score sounds genuinely good most of the time. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    The only extra on the disc is an audio commentary track with Norman J. Warren. This might have been a better track with a moderator as there are moments where Warren goes off track or quiets up but for the most part his memories are enjoyable. This is, generally speaking, a reasonably scene specific talk that, as you’d guess, starts with talk of how the opening black and white footage was shot and where he managed to get the people that appear in that scene from. As the track goes on he talks about working alongside the cast and crew, the luck involved in securing the film’s genuinely great locations, the effects and makeup work that was involved, the music used in the film and a fair bit more. Aside from that, the disc also includes menus and chapter selection.

    As this is a combo pack release, there’s also a DVD version of the movie using the same restoration and with the same commentary included in the clear plastic keepcase. Reversible cover sleeve art is also included. Vinegar Syndrome offers this as a limited edition of 3,000 pieces with a slipcover available directly from their website.

    Bloody New Year – The Final Word:

    Bloody New Year is a fairly bonkers affair, never quite making a whole lot of sense but entertaining us regardless. Vinegar Syndrome has brought it to Blu-ray in as best a condition we’re going to see (unless better elements turn up) and with a director’s commentary as well. If you’re able to throw logic to the wind, you can have a lot of fun with this one.

    Click on the images below for full sized Bloody New Year Blu-ray screen caps!