Oh, it’s been too long and I need a palate cleanser from the Deep Cut on The Dark and the Wicked–great movie, but very intense and borderline nihilistic. Time to lighten up with some Glorious Shit. Again, the horror films which qualify for this honor–and it actually is, I love these movies–are entertaining films which are still objectively bad. These aren’t so-bad-they’re-good flicks; these are movies that can be enjoyed because they have some defining characteristic that makes them a cut above the thousands of plain bad horror movies. In the case of Evilspeak, there are actually several good elements, but the defining feature of this film is one of the most badass endings…period. It’s cheesy. It’s fake. It’s stupid…but it’s badass. And quite frankly, I don’t get why it hasn’t garnered the cult following it deserves.
Just as an indication of how memorable the climax is, it’s one of the very, very, very few “low-budget” (the budget was $1.3 million in 1981, for fuck’s sake, Starry Eyes was crowd funded and it’s actually an excellent film. But I digress…) horrors churned out during that cultural wasteland known as the 80s that I even remember. I was only half-watching it on some pay channel (we got free Showtime for a year and a half until somebody got wise) while reading a book, but the ending got my attention. I ended up re-watching the whole movie…and came to the conclusion that it was still pretty bad, but DAMN. Love the ending. A couple of years ago, I suddenly remembered watching it and was frustrated that I couldn’t find it on any of my myriad streaming channels, but it turns out there is at least one unedited version on YouTube. Pretty sure there’s more, but I’m positive about the one. And I’m really encouraging people to watch it because if The Prowler and The Burning deserve cult status, then Evilspeak absolutely deserves it, too.
While the 1981 graphics and computer interface are sad now–Clint Howard cracked, “This society wasn’t much past playing Pong when this came out”–the plot is fairly innovative for its time: Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard…yes, as in Ron Howard’s younger brother) plays a bullied orphan cadet at a military academy who happens upon the ancient texts of a long dead satanic priest named Esteban. He somehow manages to rig his Flintstones’ style computer to plug into Esteban’s dark soul in order to wreak sweet revenge. Kind of a cutting edge early 80’s spin on the tedious Ouija-style summoning. I mean…basically, he was using a network before networks were a thing outside of government. Ironically, that was one of the reasons it seemed even more farfetched than it really was–the idea of contacting an evil spirit via computer. Now we know that the internet can be used for far, far, far worse things than anything Esteban could have even imagined.
But you would’ve been hard-pressed to prove that to the MPAA; director Eric Weston said they had to cut some of their scenes from minutes to seconds because of the gore (multiple decapitations, heart pulled out of chest and an unnecessarily naked chick being attacked by a herd of pigs in her shower, no I’m not kidding) to avoid the dreaded X-rating…which seems quaint nowadays, but it was nonsensical even then. If Last House On the Left and I Spit on Your Grave got in under the wire, the MPAA should’ve breezed this one through. Apparently–and I just learned this today–the reason the MPAA is so goddamn inconsistent in their ratings is because it there is a different review board for each movie. They must’ve had some real prigs serving on that one because I have the “unedited version” and…it’s really not that bad, though that may be because some of those decapitations are hilariously phony. Then again, Evilspeak managed to make the U.K.’s infamous “video nasties” list, so maybe I’m missing something.
If you decide that you are ridiculous enough to buy the DVD like I did, the commentary is so-so. But I did learn a few interesting factoids, which I shall sprinkle liberally throughout this Evilspeak promotion. That’s right–this isn’t just a review, I’m openly promoting this bitch. And I’m spoiling the hell out of it, too, so if you haven’t seen it, go to YouTube and watch first so you can better appreciate both the Glory and the Shit that is Evilspeak. Then come back tomorrow, park your head in idle and enjoy.