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"Evilspeak" Horror Movie Review

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I have a weakness for cheesy, "so bad they're good" low budget horror, sci-fi or action movies. I watch'em so you don't have to!

Left: original theatre poster / Right: DVD cover

Left: original theatre poster / Right: DVD cover

"Evilspeak" (1981)

Directed By: Eric Weston

Starring: Clint Howard, Don Stark, Richard Moll, Charles Tyner

Greetings, loyal fiends! 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* transcends the limitations of its obvious low budget thanks to 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 like Rock N Roll High School, Carnosaur, and Ice Cream Man. 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.

The Plot!

Evilspeak opens in the Dark Ages, where we join in the excommunication of the mysterious Father Esteban 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 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." 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 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."

Trailer:

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 eventually the gang of "cool kid" tormentors discover Stanley's hidey-hole, 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!"

"Data Incomplete. Human Blood Required."

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.

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...

© 2012 Keith Abt

Comments

Frankie Dandridge from Leeds on April 11, 2014:

the video in this country was originally released

by small independent video distributor videospace

that unfortunately went under due to the video nasty

atrocities but later released cut by another company

but the videospace version is uncut and follows

a trailer for demon later released by another company

the films merit is gripping and thrilling clint howards

performance was fantastic and the computer graphics in this film

was phenomenal next to the comedy weird science from 86 where

two teens create a woman via a computer that the computer graphics

may have being supplied by apple or Amstrad computers but the score

for evilspeak was great thoroughly enjoyed this film from start to finish.

Frankie Dandridge Smales

smales tv uk

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 10, 2012:

Cool, Skeelo, thanks for stoppin' by!! Where you been, man??

Skeelo from Scotland on June 10, 2012:

Love this movie

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 22, 2012:

I'll have to take your word for that, FM... never was much of a Star Trek guy

FreedomMetal from Somewhere In Time on May 22, 2012:

You are correct! I wonder if they were in any other movies together....

FYI - Clint Howard was a guest star on the original Star Trek in the 60's

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 22, 2012:

Yeah, Clint's got quite a resume, goin' all the way back to the 60s when he was a child actor in the "Gentle Ben" TV series.

As for the Kevin Bacon question... I believe both he and Clint were in Brother Ron's "Apollo 13," weren't they? Kevin was one of the astronauts and Clint was one of the NASA ground control tech geeks.

FreedomMetal from Somewhere In Time on May 22, 2012:

I often think that you could play 6 Degrees with Ron Howard's brother instead of Kevin Bacon. It would be hard for most people to play, but I swear they guy has been in more movies than Kevin Bacon. Bonus - name a movie they were both in! LOL!

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 22, 2012:

Thanx OldWitchcraft... yep, it's a tasty slab of '80s cheese...

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on May 22, 2012:

This sounds pretty cool! Thanks for the info.!

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