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"Evilspeak" (1981) Review
"Evilspeak" (1981) - Directed By Eric Weston
**WARNING: SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW**
Greetings, loyal fiends, and welcome once again to It Came From the Bargain Bin, the Hub series that loves vintage low-budget cinema almost as much as it loves cold beer. Tonight we'll be examining 1981's cult classic Evilspeak, a cult Satanic gorefest that came to the table a little too late to ride the "Satan Movie" craze of the early-to-mid '70s, but was WAY ahead of the computerized cyber-horror curve that would later manifest itself in films like The Lawnmower Man, Brainscan and FearDotCom. Evilspeak is a film that *almost* manages to transcend the limitations of its obvious low budget thanks to some genuinely creepy moments and a standout performance by B-movie legend Clint Howard. Not only does ol' Clint happen to be the brother of Ron ("Apollo 13," "The Da Vinci Code") Howard, but he's a prolific actor in his own right, with appearances in dozens of popular genre films as Rock N Roll High School, Carnosaur, Ice Cream Man, and the Silent Night, Deadly Night series. Clint's bug-eyed, snaggle-toothed, perpetually confused/slightly creepy demeanor suits him well in Evilspeak's lead role of Stanley Coopersmith. This flick can best be described as a high-tech (by 1981 standards, anyway) gender-reversal of Carrie, in which a put-upon nerd finally gets revenge on his tormentors in the goriest ways possible. Sound like a good time? Then read on!!
Evilspeak opens in the Dark Ages, where we join in the excommunication of the mysterious Father Esteban (a pre-"Night Court" Richard Moll) somewhere on the shores of medieval Spain. Seems that Father Esteban's been dabblin' in the Black Arts, which naturally doesn't go over well with the local Church authorities. Being cast out of his homeland doesn't seem to bother Esteban or his followers much, however... they simply shrug and start a Satanic hoe-down right there on the beach, which ends with Esteban hacking the head off of a sweet young topless thing with a big ole sword. Now that's what I call a beach party!!
...before the human sacrifice's dying screams fade totally away, we flash forward to the present day and meet the hapless Stanley Coopersmith, the least popular cadet at West Andover Military Academy. Poor orphaned Stanley is hopeless on the soccer field, a constant target for derision and pranks by the so-called "cool kids" on campus (who dub him "Cooperdick") and looked down upon even by the Academy staff, who refer to him behind his back as a "charity case" and constantly berate him for bringing shame upon the institution's good name with his general ineptitude. So in other words, Stanley's life pretty much sucks, which is a shame because he actually seems to be a decent guy. Befitting his lack of social status, Stanley gets all the crappy jobs around the Academy, like cleaning out the hog pens (why does a military academy need to keep a horde of gigantic, hostile, potentially man-eating hogs around? Because they're integral to the plot later on, of course) and eventually, being assigned clean-up duty in the basement of the main campus building, which seemingly hasn't been touched in about a hundred years. Whilst moving the accumulated dust of ages around, Stanley uncovers a hidden door which leads him to the long-hidden sanctum sanctorum of... Father Esteban. Yup, apparently Esteban split Spain for the sunny shores of Southern California back in the day and ended up setting up shop on the same exact plot of land where the West Andover Academy now stands. What're the odds, huh? Stanley is fascinated by the collection of occult paraphernalia and musty spell books that fill the room, and begins hanging out down there at all hours, using his trusty Radio Shack TRS-80 computer (don't laugh, they were top of line once!) to translate the various spells and incantations from Latin into English. Eventually he seems to contact the undead spirit of Esteban himself when his computer suddenly promises him "I will return."
"Data Incomplete. Human Blood Required."
It's like "Revenge of the Nerds" -- but with way more Satan!
Stanley's transition from nervous nerd to full-on Satanic bad-ass isn't without its trials and tribulations, of course. At one point he loses his copy of Esteban's spell book, which is recovered by the base commander's shady (but hot) secretary. She's only interested in prying the jewel out of the book's cover, but when she's unsuccessful at that, she merely throws the book on her nightstand and goes to take a shower, thus successfully fulfilling the film's B-Horror Gratuitious Nudity requirement. Unfortunately it turns out to be a bad move for Miss Hot Secretary, as foolin' around with the book sends some sort of Satanic signal to the campus pigs, who invade her apartment and eat her for lunch in one of many gleefully gory kill scenes.
By this point Stanley and his computer are almost ready to complete the big Satanic ritual, but they need one more vital ingredient... human blood. That's not a problem because when one of the Academy's staff members wanders into Stanley's underground hidey-hole and starts throwing a fit Stanley impales him on some sort of Medieval torture device lookin' thingy to keep him quiet. More intruders come in the form of Stanley's "cool kid" tormentors, who start messin' with the occult items and, most shamefully of all, killing a stray puppy that Stan's been keeping down there as a pet. NOOOO!! First rule of horror movies: kill all the stupid co-eds and jarheaded jocks you want, but NEVER HURT A PUPPY!! Losing his beloved canine pal is the last straw for poor Stanley, who goes utterly batsh*t crazy and invades the campus' packed chapel...by blowing a hole through the floor and levitating into the air, wielding Esteban's big ole sword of vengeance. The last fifteen minutes of the flick are absolute mayhem, as the possessed Stanley whacks off heads a'plenty whilst his faithful Demon Hogs make short work of anyone he misses. Even though Stanley may technically be the "bad guy" in this flick, we've watched him suffer so much at the hands of these uncaring individuals that you actually find yourself rooting for the guy, screamin' "Wooo yeah! Give'em HELL Stanley!" as he gives each of the Academy a-holes their just desserts.
Human Blood Required...
Evilspeak does have an unfortunate tendency to drag during its first half, but the last half hour (particularly that chapel scene) is a gorehound's delight of over-the-top mayhem with plenty of impressive old-school effects on display. The "computer graphics" which probably looked really whiz-bang in 1981, of course, look hilariously outdated now, resembling some crappy Atari 2600 screenshots. The last shot of the film, in which a digitized Stanley appears on the computer screen with the promise "I... WILL...RETURN" probably shocked the crap out of drive-in audiences in '81 though. In the end, Evilspeak is an ambitious little gore flick that features fine performances by Moll and Howard, as well as B-movie mainstays like Charles ("Hamburger: The Motion Picture") Tyner, Lenny ("The Godfather") Montana, and even a very young Don ("That '70s Show") Stark as one of Stanley's teenage tormentors. The film was released on DVD by Anchor Bay back in 2004 but is now unfortunately an out-of-print, pricey collectible. Who knows, though... you may get lucky enough to find a copy in your nearest local Bargain Bin. Happy hunting...