DIRECTOR Eric Weston
STARRING Clint Howard, R.G. Armstrong, Joseph Cortese, Claude Earl Jones
DISTRIBUTOR Warner Bros.
RELEASE DATE February 26, 1982
RUNTIME 89 min.
COUNTRY United States
The clumsy military cadet Stanley Coopersmith is orphan and completely outcast in the West Andover Academy. He is frequently abused and humiliated by four despicable mates, and has a bad treatment from his teachers, the coach, the colonel and even from the local reverend. When Coopersmith finds a book of black mass that belonged to the evil medieval Father Esteban, he uses a computer to conjure Satan and revenge his harassers.
The term “acquired taste” could never apply more appropriately than it does for this film but there is something intriguing about this “video nasty” that separates it from films such as ”Cannibal Holocaust” or “The Driller Killer.” This film is not necessarily concerned with nudity or gore (don’t worry it’s still in there though), but more with grotesque imagery that makes you feel nauseous such as the violent hordes of swine and some vile scenes that hold up to Cronenberg and Fulci. Rather than being concerned with obvious plot incoherence and Clint Howard’s awkward acting, along with his awkward toupee, we must be concerned with the film as a whole as it defines an era of horror that was pushing the limits on censorship.
The film opens with a satanic ritual on the shores of Spain during the dark ages and after our first swift cut decapitation scene, which transitions perfectly to a soccer ball getting kicked at a school game, we are introduced to our main character Stanley Coopersmith. Stanley is a classic archetype of a social outcast and the epitome of “uncool,” not even the instructors like this kid. Stanley is an orphan at a prestigious military academy and is constantly harassed by his classmates. After Stanley is punished for no reason and sent to clean the cellar he uncovers something sinister: the diary of the evil “Estaban!” Estaban was the leader of the satanic cult we see in the opening scene. Once Stanley begins to translate the Latin writings of Estaban to English with the school lab computer he opens a new gate for hell to break loose.
The movie bears a strong resemblance to the plot of Stephen King’s Carrie as Stanley is driven by vengeance for the mistreatment he has endured by his classmates and instructors. Films like this are particularly disturbing because they show us how cruel people can be and how vengeance and retribution can be an even crueler as a consequence, especially if brought on by the dark lord himself. What makes this film interesting is that the goofy hero becomes a powerful agent of what we consider the most exalted form of evil…Satan.
The film contains some really horrific, and at times humorous scenes, such as a man being thrown upward only to be impaled by an iron spike chandelier and Clint Howard flying through a chapel with a medieval sword bearing a pentagram slaughtering all that oppose. There is also a specific scene that is unique for the time period only to be described as a “Satanic Tron” scene. A glitchy sequence with neon colored pentagrams and a pixelated face of Estaban. Coupled with the 80’s style hard hitting synth bass and chants of a satanic choir reminiscent of “Ave Satani” from the omen we are carried to a very memorable climax makes the whole movie worth the watch. One will come to understand why this film became branded an infamous “video nasty.”
So give yourself credit because if you can sit through this film and enjoy it, you’ve come a long way as a horror fan. Something we need to understand is that we should never take our love of the genre so seriously. These films aren’t looking for Oscars, they are looking to offend, repulse, disgust, and ultimately…create horror! We can all agree that there are films that are defining and groundbreaking, but what about the films that carried the essence of horror through the decades in obscurity, only to continue to keep the foundation alive when censors were trying to shut down the art form altogether. Regardless of all opinion, “Evilspeak.” is eclectic part of the genre and a top “video nasty” that deserves at least one watch in your lifetime. I WILL RETURN!