From Christmas to Valentine’s Day, Holiday Horror is a tried and true subgenre, and New Year’s Eve is no exception. New Year’s Eve is a popular holiday in movies for a reason. It’s a dramatic day where we break with the past and embrace a brighter future. In the case of horror, it presents a chance to offer up a bleaker vision of the coming year… if you’re even lucky enough to live to see it.
‘New Year’s Evil’
In the 1980 slasher film New Year’s Evil, a punk-rock DJ receives a chilling phone call during a televised New Year’s Eve celebration. The mysterious caller unveils a horrifying plan: a “naughty girl” will be murdered at midnight for each U.S. time zone, with the DJ’s fate hanging in the balance as the final victim. Unlike most films with a New Year’s hook, this one scores major points for taking place all on the holiday.
‘The Mystery of the Wax Museum’
Okay, so maybe an 80s slasher isn’t how you want to ring in the New Year. How about a classic horror film from the 30s instead? 1933’s The Mystery of the Wax Museum is a New Year’s horror film that also happens to be an important pre-code film.
Set on New Year’s Day in 1933, this movie revolves around Ivan Igor (played by Lionel Atwill), a sculptor who, tragically, was left disfigured and scarred in a fire orchestrated by his partner at their wax museum. The inferno consumed all of Igor’s magnificent creations. Fast forward 12 years, and he embarks on a macabre quest to resurrect his art by murdering individuals and abducting corpses that bear an uncanny resemblance to his sculptures, encasing them in wax. As the disappearances pile up, intrepid reporter Florence (portrayed by Glenda Farell) finds herself drawn deeper into Igor’s sinister world. Notably, this film also features King Kong‘s Fay Wray.
Film historian and YouTuber Dr. Udru did a terrific dive into the two-tone technicolor process this early color film used.
‘End of Days’
Maybe you need some action-tinged thrills to keep you awake until the ball drops… Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s End of Days is an underseen action horror film. It also happens to take place on the cusp of the new millennium.
Set in New York City on December 28, 1999, the story revolves around the devil’s arrival and his possession of an investment banker. This possessed banker is determined to conceive the Antichrist with Christine, portrayed by Robin Tunney from The Craft. Of course, Jericho (Schwarzenegger), a former cop battling alcoholism, becomes Christine’s and humanity’s last hope for salvation.
‘Ghostbusters 2’ New Year’s Eve Horror for the Whole Family
While the original Ghostbusters is a classic, it’s worth noting that the often-overlooked and underrated Ghostbusters II deserves attention too. The sequel also is a great holiday horror film, with the climax taking place on New Year’s Eve, 1989. Just look at this horde of ghosts and goblins descending onto the Big Apple!
Set several years after the events of the initial movie, the Ghostbusters find themselves disbanded and subjected to ridicule. However, a peculiar haunting specifically targeting Dana Barrett and her young son, Oscar, compels Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddemore to reunite and confront the formidable Vigo the Carpathian.
With Vigo scheming to conquer the Big Apple on New Year’s Eve and claim Oscar’s body, the Ghostbusters have no choice but to marshal the city in a way that only they can. To lift the spirits of grumpy New York City dwellers, the Ghostbusters take control of the Statue of Liberty and crank up Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” on New Year’s Eve.
Indeed, the Ghostbusters employing “mood slime” to bring the Statue of Liberty to life, uplifting New Yorkers as a means to confront malevolence, can be considered rather peculiar. Still, maybe after some chills, maybe it’s best to ring in 2024 with some goofy charm and laughs.
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