Evilspeak (1981) Review
Centuries ago, a devil-worshipper and his cult are banned from Spain and are told to never return. In the present (that is, 1981), we are introduced to Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard), an orphaned outcast at a military academy who is targeted by a group of bullies and is constantly tormented by them. The staff of the school despise him as well, including the soccer coach and the colonel, the leader of the academy. In fact, his only two friends at the academy are Kowalski (Haywood Nelson) and the school cook.
While cleaning out the cellar underneath the chapel, Stanley discovers a hidden room filled with all sorts of weird artifacts, including a book that Stanley takes and begins translating it with his computer. By doing this, the spirit of the devil-worshipper from the beginning gets inside his computer and gives him instructions on how to perform a black mass ritual with the supplies in the secret room. Stanley decides to try it out, but stops before the ritual is complete. However, when the bullies do something incredibly horrific to him, he decides it's high time they got their just-desserts, goes through with the ritual, and you can imagine what happens next.
The screenplay for Evilspeak was initially called The Foundling and was written by Joseph Garofalo, and was tweaked around by director Eric Weston, with the biggest change being to add a computer to the mix. The script went through several drafts in order to get the right pace and add more elements to the character of Coopersmith. The director managed to scrounge up $1,000,000 to make the movie, and it was wrapped after three weeks. However, to avoid the dreaded "X" rating, they made several cuts to the film, usually to remove gore footage or sketchy religious scenes. It was released on February 26, 1981 and managed to end up on the infamous UK Video Nasty list.
The acting in Evilspeak is incredibly good, with Clint Howard being the best, but more on him later. What makes this movie so uniquely entertaining is its ability to take a standard situation and put a spin on it. For example, the standard horror shower scene. We've all seen it before, but have we seen the woman in the shower get ripped apart by homicidal pigs? I think not. The special effects are also really good, even if today's techies will let loose a hearty laugh when they see the dinosaur of a computer Stanley uses, not to mention the cheesy graphics on it (I guess Satan is skilled with computers). And, in a moment that would make Scumbag Steve gasp in horror, the bullies decide it would be fun to slaughter Fred, Stanley's puppy. Usually in a bully-revenge film, like Trick or Treat, I don't feel the bullies deserve to get massacred for harassing a guy, but here, I was cheering on Coopersmith as he systematically murdered the bullies inside the chapel.
Ah yes...Howard's acting. After seeing such films with Clint Howard as Rock 'N' Roll High School and Grand Theft Auto (the original; not the video game), I was expecting an entertaining, albeit cheesy, performance from him. Imagine my utter shock when I find out that (absolutely no joking) his performance deserves an Oscar. I'm being dead serious. Howard fills the screen with some of the best acting I have seen in a long while. Even if the bullying itself seems unrealistic, his reactions to it all were uncannily real. Move over Colin Firth; Clint Howard's in the house!
Overall, I feel Evilspeak is a great alternation on Carrie that deserves your attention. The gore is great, the performances are astoundingly phenomenal, and the ending was effectively creepy. Anchor Bay released this complete and uncut back in 2004, along with a trailer, poster & still gallery, and a commentary by Eric Weston and Clint Howard. The disc is OOP, and if you can find a copy for under $20, don't hesitate to buy it, because it's definitely a :ME LIKES:
:HOF: The best of the best.
:ME LIKES: A really good film.
:roll: It's OK; has its flaws.
:powerofchrist: The power of Christ compels you to stay away from this film!
:slasher: Death is preferable to this garbage.