Title: Evilspeak (1981)
Director: Eric Weston
Cast: Clint Howard, Richard Moll
Satanic themed movies where big during the 70’s and 80’s, but in my opinion they’ve kind of lost popularity, I guess because kids don’t find Satan scary anymore, but back in the 80’s Satan was the talk of the town, and religious horror was at its peak. Films like The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976) thrived on people’s fears of the old Father of Lies, The Prince of Darkness, Beelzebub himself. Right now, these types of movies are more likely to elicit laughs from audiences instead of scares; hell, I’ll be honest, Evil Speak got a couple of chuckles from this Film Connoisseur! Of course, Clint Howard’s funny looking face had a lot to do with that, but also the cheesiness of the whole satanic angle made me chuckle, I don’t know what it is but I can never take these Satanic worshipping movies seriously. As far as I’m concerned, Satanist are even lower in the religious echelon then all other religions, they are far sillier to me then all other branches of Christianity. But back in the 70’s and 80’s these satanic themed films really played with peoples heads.
Evil Speak is all about a young man named Stanley Coopersmith, a teenager who gets picked on all the time by his classmates. You know how that old storyline goes; Stanley’s peers make fun of him all the time and essentially make his life a living hell. Stanley goes to a military academy where only the richest families send their sons. But Stanley stands out like a cockroach in a chicken dance, because he isn’t rich, he isn’t good looking and he’s a major geek. You see, sometimes, as a service to society, this elite military school takes in ‘welfare cases’ like Stanley. Kid’s who have no parents and don’t come from a rich family. It’s the governments’ social service that’s always taken care of Stanley, a true product of ‘the system’. And so, even though he isn’t rich or anything he ends up going to this military school where they shape rich young men into fine killing machines for the U.S. government. It’s the kind of school where they program kids with Christianity and loyalty to your country.
But in this Christian military academy, no one gives Stanley the respect he deserves as a human being. He’s always seen as the ‘weirdo’ the proverbial outcast, so much so that not even the teachers give him the time of day. So he often times gets the jobs that no one likes to do like taking out the garbage, taking care of the schools pig sty (yup you read that right!) and doing hard labor like cleaning up the schools abandoned cellar. One day, while cleaning the cellar, Stanley discovers an entrance into an old catacomb! This new discovery grabs his attention so much that he begins to explore the old catacombs until he discovers an ancient library filled with books on occultism and Satanism. You see, this ancient library use to belong to the biggest devil worshipper to ever come out of the Spanish Inquisition, Father Esteban! So Stanley, intrigued by these ancient books takes the most Satanic one home: the one in which Father Esteban gives detailed instructions (in Latin no less!) on how to sell your soul to Satan himself! Stanley translates the diary into his computer and suddenly blamo! His computer is possessed! And so is he!
Before I go on, I need to mention a passage from the bible that is tied directly to this films plot. It’s the passage found in the book of Mark Chapter 5; in which Jesus meets up with a possessed man. When Jesus asks the man what is his name the demons inside of him reply “We are Legion, for we are many”. Then, then the demons frightened with the notion that the son of God might send them back to hell with his magic powers, beg him not to do so. Now, since Baby Jesus is such a nice guy, he doesn’t send them back to hell. Instead, he expels the demons from the man, and sends their spirits to posses a herd of pigs that happened to be close by; so the herd of pigs gets possessed by the legions of demons who end up running all crazy towards a cliff before jumping off and killing themselves. The reason why I mention this biblical passage is because Evilspeak might as well have been called Satan’s Killer Pigs! Or Night of the Possessed Boars or something!
Turns out wild man eating boars make up an important part of Evilspeak because every time somebody messes with the Satanic book, the boars that are held up in the military academies pig sty go crazy. Now if a military school having man eating boars isn’t strange enough for you, how’s about having these pigs become possessed by demons and eating people alive? Is that crazy enough for ya? Well, that’s exactly what happens. Problem is that if you have never read the bible, you’ll probably see the possessed pigs in Evilspeak and think “What the fuck!!??” But, now, thanks to this informative review you are reading right now, you wont have this problem. Thank me later. But speaking of killer pigs, these monstrous boars offer up one of the grizzliest moments in the film. Just remember in the world of Evilspeak; Pigs = Evil.
Evilspeak is a “the worm has turned” type of story where the nerdy guy that gets picked on by all the bullies suddenly finds himself in the position of having the power to get back at anybody whoever messed with him. In this sense Evilspeak reminded me of quite a few movies like for example Robert Englund’s 976-EVIL (1988), in which a nerdy young guy gets possessed by Satan. But on that film he gets possessed by calling a telephone hot line! He also gets revenge on all the buttholes whoever tortured him. Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976) has the same plot. Only in Carrie it’s a nerdy girl with telekinetic powers who gets sweet revenge. We could also mention that this one has a lot in common with Damien: Omen II (1978) as well, it deals with a military academy student, and with Satan. But ultimately, the film that has the most similarities with Evilspeak is a film called Fear No Evil (1981) and it’s about this nerdy high school kid who turns out to be Lucifer himself. Fear No Evil is actually a pretty decent horror film that tends to get ignored by most, but in my opinion is quite effective. Well, I remember it scaring the pants off of me when I was a kid, my father (god bless his soul) took me to see that one in theaters when I was about five years old. Fear No Evil has so much in common with Evilspeak its not even funny! It's the same exact premise! It even has a scene where a crucifix comes alive and kills someone; a similar scene can be found in Fear No Evil. But, ultimately, what separates Evilspeak from all those other films that I mentioned before is the computer angle.
You see in Evilspeak, Stanley translates this Satanic diary and types every word into his computer. Once the book has been typed into a computer program, the computer becomes possessed and an evil spirit speaks through it to Stanley helping him commit all sorts of vengeful and evil things, like killing off bullies and teachers. Now, computers in 1982 where in diapers, so it’s really funny to see the gigantic keyboard that Stanley uses to type onto his computer! The computer graphics themselves are really ancient, they reminded me of the kind of graphics we saw in films like Nightmares (1983) That film is an anthology that showcases various horror stories, but one of them (the one called ‘Bishop of Battle’) is about a video game that eats up this kid (a very young Emilio Estevez) who becomes obsessed with it. The graphics in that one are similar to the ones seen on Evilspeak. From what I heard in the audio commentary, this was one of the first films to use a computer as a major part of its plotline, so I guess it’s important for that alone. Kids using computers for evil, or becoming possessed by the use of computers have come along way since Evilspeak, the most recent one that comes to mind is Brainscan (1994) with Edward Furlong playing the computer geek who becomes possessed by a demonic video game character. Actually Brainscan is a pretty decent movie now that I recall!
Another cool thing this movie has going for it is Clint Howard who’s become some kind horror movie icon over the years, specially when we take in consideration all the horror films and b-movies he has appeared in. Howard has a goofy looking face which lends itself perfectly for this type of nerdy character. Funny thing is that Howard wears a different hair piece in many of his films! I remember on The Wraith (1986), Howard wore a hair piece to play a character called ‘Rughead’, a character who was an obvious nudge to David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1976). On Evilspeak Howard’s hairpiece goes all crazy when he becomes fully possessed in the last frames of the film, it reminded me of one of those Japanese cartoons like Dragon Ball or Akira in which the characters hair goes all crazy when they get super powerful? That’s exactly what happens to Clint Howard on this movie. Basically, he gets pissed on by everyone during the first hour of the film so that he can go all crazy on their asses on the last half, when he becomes completely possessed.
Final word: Evilspeak actually surprised me with how good it was. I was expecting one of these movies that looked really low budget, but Evilspeak actually surprised me with how good it looked. It was well shot and it had decent art direction for the type of budget they were working with, which was a whopping 1 million dollars. The film also delivers on the gore as well! Evilspeak has got to have some kind of a record as far as decapitations go. I mean, they really chop off a lot of heads on this flick! I had fun with this movie, it is a film that was influenced by a couple of films that came before it (mainly The Omen and Carrie) and but judging by how many films that came after Evilspeak are similar to it, I’d say Evilspeak has been a quite influential film on its own right. And hey, Anton Lavey, the founder of the 'Church of Satan' thought this film was a 'very Satanic' film so that says something about Evilspeak's satanic edge. Then again, he said the samething about The Devils Rain (1975), a laugh inducing satanic film if their ever was one.