From the prologue of “Evilspeak”:
“And Satan said to the Man of God… ‘What would you do tomorrow if you allowed me to die today? What vocation would you pursue if my name disappeared?’”
Have you ever been bullied? Had someone torment you to the breaking point? What would you do to fight back? Would you punch them in the nose? Leave a flaming bag of feces on their doorstep? Or would you use an obscure spellbook, an Apple II computer, some human blood, and a consecrated host to summon a demon to do your bidding? Luckily, for lovers of the bloody, bizarre, and excessive, the main character in “Evilspeak” chose the latter option!
The plot revolves around a military academy student named Stanley Coopersmith (played by a 22 year old Clint Howard, while he still had hair on the top of his head). Anyway, poor Stanley Coopersmith has always gotten the short end of the stick; He’s an orphan, his parents having died in an automobile accident. To make matters worse, he is an awkward, klutzy geek to the absolute extreme. Naturally, Coopersmith is endlessly picked on at his school by a gang of jerky fellow classmates, led by a jagoff named Bubba (played by Don Stark, who was later Donna’s dad on “That 70’s Show”). This motley crew of bullies loves to prank Coopersmith, humiliate him, sabotage his school projects, the whole shebang. Even Coopersmith’s teachers pick on him, including one who canes him for being late to class. Jeesh!
Well, no one could have seen this coming: Turns out an evil priest named Father Esteban (played by Richard Moll, who was later Bull on “Night Court”) conducted Satanic rituals in the basement of the chapel on the school’s grounds. While Stanley is cleaning out the basement, he finds a hidden chamber, and a book Esteban wrote that’s basically “Black Magic for Dummies”, but in Latin. As the movie progresses, Stanley transforms from a gawky underdog into a full-blown devil worshipper, and he’s out for the blood of all those who have wronged him. What follows is an orgy of telekinesis, 80’s nudity, and fun special effects including heart-ripping, multiple beheadings, vicious demon-possessed pigs that love to dine on human flesh, and vintage 8-bit Satanic computer graphics.
I very much enjoy “Evilspeak”; it’s irreverent, bloody, fun, sometimes very funny, and sometimes pretty creepy. It almost reminds me of a gender-swapped variation of “Carrie”… except with demonic swine and decapitations with a huge sword. This movie was so over-the-top, it was outright banned in Great Britain for years as one of their infamous “Video Nasties”!
Overall, the writing, directing, cinematography, music, effects, and acting were pretty good, but what I like most about this movie is Clint Howard’s solid performance; as Coopersmith, he actually earns our sympathy. I even kind of felt for him when he went full Satanic retribution on his enemies, because he was so tortured by them.Coopersmith only has a few people who are decent to him, but they are also outcasts on campus as well. It seems there’s no way for outsiders like Coopersmith to escape their miserable circumstances, except to seek Bull’s- I mean, Esteban’s help to fight back. And once he turns vicious with his demonic powers, Coopersmith becomes the kind of trademark creepy Clint Howard character we’ve all come to know and love from his later horror roles.
So, if you, like me, was picked on as a kid, you may find “Evilspeak” to be a grim little exercise in catharsis; the vicarious thrill of watching Coopersmith’s semi-sociopathic bullies get killed off in nasty ways may prove irresistible to you. Or, if you’re just a big Clint Howard fan, he does great work here! “Evilspeak” is now available in an unrated version on Blu-ray from Scream Factory. Again, if you enjoyed reading this review, like many others, then head over to Neo Trash Video on Facebook for all things B-Cinema. - Mike C.