Tag Archives: Horror Movies

Evilspeak (1989)

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!

Top 10 Tuesday: Sal’s Most Hated

What’s Top 10 Tuesday? It’s a new Top 10 List every Tuesday!

Here’s 10 movies I don’t enjoy.

10. Candyman Sequels

The Candyman is not a slasher. The first movie is masterclass horror movie about the memetic power of belief. The subsequent films traded that in for cheap slasher scares. I love Tony Todd and his iconic bogeyman, but the character deserved so much better after the carefully considered film that Bernard Rose gave us 25 years ago.

9. Human Centipede sequels & Saw Sequels

The ‘Pede trilogy should have stayed a one off. I get what the director was doing and I admire that he did it, and that he managed to get so meta with it, but he didn’t have to. <Insert deep thought about pushing limits when you should consider why you’re doing it>. The Saw sequels tie into this idea. The first Saw was a novelty, and a solid flick.

8. Squirm (1976)

This movie should have been so much better. Or at least way zanier. Better to leave this one to your imagination.

 

 

 

7. Cube (1997)

Watch Saw instead. If you want a good film by Natali watch the utterly insane Splice. This film though? I just didn’t enjoy it, and ultimately I left the film feeling… let down? I think that might have been it. I guess it was built up into something great and then… blah, a competent film that—had it not been touted so highly—I might have loved. I guess I recommend Saw because I still remember how the end of that film left me reeling.

6. Hostel (2005)

I get it, the movie was both transgressive and mainstream. It was the thing to watch when Eli Roth first released it, but it is not a good film either. It really isn’t. It was just ok. You want a good movie? Watch Cabin Fever. That movie was ridiculous and scary. Hostel is not. It’s extreme for extremity’s sake and it suffers for it. Also it basically spawned the utterly ridiculous Torture Porn sub-genre. A lot of money and time was wasted on the sub-genre and for what? It was a fad that faded away, and honestly I am glad that it has. Gore is great, but gore for gore’s sake starts to feel like an effects reel after a while. That’s what torture porn was to me, an effects reel.

5. High Tension (2003)

I love Alexandre Aja’s other films, especially the insanity that is Piranha 3D (which a talented filmmaker having the time of his life.) and Horns, which was a serviceable attempt at adapting the novel by Joe Hill. High Tension, or Haute Tension (or Switchblade Romance if you’re pretentious and smug and into trying to make people feel inferior. Seriously, you can only use this title if you’re British.) This movie however is one of those that I will never understand the love for. The ridiculous and inane twist (oh no, the heroine is actually also the bad guy) that comes in act three is more annoying and predictable than it is shocking. It does set up an interesting look at the themes of love and obsession but really those feel shoehorned in and left aside for shock value. I don’t even mind the twist all that much, it was a good idea except for the fact that Fight Club did it better.Or American Psycho. Or…well I am sure you see where I am taking this. It is a well made film, full of extreme gore and some unique kills but at the end of the day it is highly, highly overrated.

4. Them (2006)

A part of the new wave of French horror that swept the genre in the early 2000’s, this film is a pile of hot garbage. I loathed every second of it and found it entirely predictable and silly. Spoilers, the mysterious assailants are some local kids. Watch The Strangers instead if you are looking for a unique take on home invasion. Avoid this one.

3. Every Hellraiser movie besides I & II (1992-2011)

These are all lumped together because, even though they contain work by the great Doug Bradley, they are not good. These films are soulless cash grabs, made solely to extend the rights agreement held by Dimension. They really need to let the rights revert to Barker so he can do some justice for the long-dead series and get it back to its former glory. Honestly I am fine not acknowledging parts 2-10 but 2 is just so much fun.

2. Knock Knock (2015)

Keanu Reeves has been on a roll lately. John Wick and its sequel have revitalized the actor’s career and Hollywood presence but then there’s Knock Knock. I get it he did it for the simulated threeway and the somewhat interesting premise. Here’s the thing though, this is a bad, bad movie. It’s premise was handled in far better fashion in Hard Candy and the production (the direction, writing and all that jazz) just feels flat and awful. Reeves does give it his all though, so there’s that. I found it lacking and not deserving of the time it took to get to the end of the film. Watch Neon Demon instead, Reeves is super creepy in that one.

1. Baskin (2015)

I never understood all the love for this film. It’s nonsensical, boring and predictable. I gave it a watch because everyone said how utterly unique and amazing it was, and I was utterly disappointed in the film that I watched. False starts, loose plot points and the writers working themselves into a narrative corner (while abandoning seemingly more interesting plot points) all served to ruin the film for me.

See you next Tuesday for a more positive Top 10 List!