It’s the end of a decade, but it’s also the beginning of a new year, which means that it’s as good an excuse as any to kick off 2010 with a list of ten enjoyable (in their own way) “new” films you might want to watch this weekend…starting with this classic:
10. New Year’s Evil (1980): Any holiday worth its salt has inspired a slasher film, and the celebration of a new year is certainly no exception to that rule. The tag line for this Cannon Films classic is just as cheesy as it ought to be – “This New Year’s, you’re invited to a killer party” – and so is the cast, which is led by Roz Kelly, best known for playing Pinky Tuscadero on “Happy Days.” Roger Ebert deigned to review it upon its original release, describing the film as “an endangered species: a plain, old-fashioned, gory thriller. It is not very good. It is sometimes unpleasantly bloody. The plot is dumb and the twist at the end has been borrowed from hundreds if not thousands of other movies. But as thrillers go these days, ‘New Year’s Evil’ is a throwback to an older and simpler tradition, one that flourished way back in the dimly remembered past, before 1978.” For a slasher flick, that’s about as much of a rave as you could hope to get, really.
9. A New Leaf (1971): This was in my original draft of this list, but I yanked it because I couldn’t find a clip to use with it. When our man Bob Westal snuck a peek at the piece and cited it as an unforgivable omission, however, I dug a little deeper and found something that I could use. This was Elaine May’s directorial debut, and she also served as the female lead of this Walter Matthau comedy. Any film that’s loved by both Roger Ebert and Vincent Canby clearly has something going for it, so I’d say it’s more than worthy of making an appearance on this list, but, my, I had no idea that carbon on the valves was such a common mechanical problem…
8. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000): David Medsker swears by this Disney animated flick, and who am I to argue with him? Plus, this gives me an excuse to drop in an anecdote from Patrick Warburton about the flick. He assured me, “I love Disney as much as any straight man in the world can love Disney,” but then he told me about meeting up with Eartha Kitt, his “co-star” in the film, at the premiere and reminding her that they’d worked together before. “When I was in my very early 20’s – I was 21 or 22 – I had done a movie with her in South Africa that was absolutely horrible,” he said. “I got the impression that she probably didn’t want to hear that anything she had ever done was not good. You didn’t even have the right to say it if you were a part of it. She just looked at me and said, ‘I’m sure we had a good time, darling.’ I looked back at her and said, ‘Well, we didn’t have that good of time, Eartha.’”