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With the up-and-coming release of 'Evilspeak' fully re-mastered and uncut from 88films, for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK, I have decided to review this underrated slice of bloody terror.
'Evilspeak' was directed by Eric Weston and stars Clint Howard as Stanley Coopersmith, R.G. Armstrong as Sarge, Joe Cortese as The Reverend, Charles Tyner as the Colonel and Don Stark as Bubba the school bully.
'Evilspeak' gained infamy in the 1980s as it appeared on the Video Nasties list in the UK, and was banned for a while before reappearing on VHS in a tackily edited edition, which cut out most of the gore and nudity, as well as some of the satanic references.
'Evilspeak' tells the story of Stanley Coopersmith a young orphan now a cadet at a military school. Coopersmith is perpetually tormented and bullied by Bubba and his goon friends. Coopersmith is sent to clear out the schools chapel basement as punishment for something he did not do, he finds a secret tomb and a satanic book, which he translates using his computer. After continuous punishment and torment Coopersmith summons powers from Satan which possess his soul and body, aiding Coopersmith in casting out revenge on those who wronged him, ending in a bloody blazing climax.
The acting is positive throughout, with mostly all of the characters being vicious, cruel and nasty towards our hapless protagonist Coppersmith, All of the actors are believable and the script is decent so they have little room for error.
The gang of bullies come across as programmed patriots, ready to lead America into the next war, blindly following immoral leadership based on American exceptionalism ideologies.
What makes 'Evilspeak' work is Clint Howard's performance as he genuinely legitimately looks like the sort of guy who would have been picked on and bullied at school.
The whole film rests on Howard's shoulders, his characters evolution is totally justified as he is not just bullied but dehumanised within the system that houses him, the teachers resent his common background giving Coppersmith not one ounce of respect, and his arch from timid victim to peeved, angry and ultimately vengeful is honest and believable.
The direction and cinematography are creative with some really interesting choices in composition, and the lighting is dark and eerie throughout, keeping you unsettled as Coppersmith slowly progresses towards the dark-side.
Some reviewers have cited this film as being a Carrie (1976) clone, and that is a fair judgment, however, there are enough original ideas here to keep the film fresh and exciting.
One of 'Evilspeak's' most standout features is the use of early computer graphics and animation, these computer elements stand out but in a good way and don’t distract from the main story, however, they are still unique and we would see this sort of material popping up in latter 80s horror films.
'Evilspeak' is creepy, gory and filled with suspenseful moments, if it's not heads being decapitated or pigs eating people alive, it’s the creepy drunken Sarge character trying to rape poor Coppersmith.
'Evilspeak' has an aura of bizarre brutality mixed with chilling psychological suspense, which you hardly ever see in a 1980s splatter movie.
There is also a mythic quality to the story with gothic fantasy undertones, which reminded me of The Evil Dead (1981).
Overall 'Evilspeak' is an underrated slice of gold from the golden age of splatter, it’s a fun intelligent horror, which deals with the occult in an interesting and unique way.
Evilspeak' contains everything that makes a 1980s horror movie enjoyable to watch, cutting out a lot of the cheese that crippled the latter genre efforts.
I genuinely believe this was a film before its time, and with this new re-mastered Blu-ray from 88films I hope it finds new life reaching a modern audience.
I give 'Evilspeak' a solid 4 out of 5 stars.
'Evilspeak' is available from 88films on 25th January 2016