October's Daily Horror Dose 3: Reckoning - Day #21 - Evilspeak

Evilspeak is Carrie but with a dude. I mean yes there are certainly unique touches such as the presence of computers and evil books and carnivorous pigs (something Carrie absolutely could have used more of) but for the most part this is Carrie but with Clint Howard instead of Sissy Spacek. That’s not a knock against the movie by any means. If anything Carrie but with a dude and pigs who eat people should be the most ringing endorsement I could ever give this movie.

Clint Howard is Stanley Coopersmith and get ready to hear that last name a lot because I swear it makes up at least 25% of the dialogue in this movie. He’s a social outcast at a military academy who is mercilessly picked on by a group of four bullies. He eventually stumbles upon this old evil book while cleaning a church basement and using a computer that is far too technologically advanced for the time, he summons some dark forces to get revenge. At least eventually he does, it takes until the last 10 minutes before you really see this unfold.

It’s kind of strange to see Clint Howard play a regular guy. I mean sure Coopersmith is socially awkward but he is not your typical Clint Howard weirdo character. He is a genuinely nice guy who doesn’t deserve any of the shit coming his way. Howard is good in the role, easily earning the audience’s sympathy. Though the movie does spend about an hour having him be bullied relentlessly so that even if he were a jerk you would still be ready for him to enact some vengeance.

The four bullies in this movie go far beyond your average movie bullies. These guys are full on psychopaths. They are pure evil. Their motivation is also a bit muddled. I guess they hate Coopersmith (or as they so cleverly call him, Cooperdick) because he isn’t very good at soccer? That seems to be the primary reason they set up in the opening scene. It’s not as though they are a professional team or anything but these guys fucking haaaaaaaate that Coopersmith is not very good at the sport. I already was against them after all the bullying but I guess the movie wasn’t confident enough you would support their murder as they go as far as to have them (SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!) kill Coopersmith’s dog. And not just any dog – the most adorable puppy you have ever seen in your life. It’s not like it’s an accident. They are extremely into the idea of killing this dog. It’s a very strange scene as up until that point they are huge assholes but this puts them in super-villain territory. It’s a cheap way of ensuring you absolutely want these guys dead.

It’s also worth mentioning that the guys they picked to play the bullies seem they could easily be the characters being picked on in a different movie. One guy is a scrawny looking nerd guy with curly hair, one is a big sweaty, dirty fat guy, and the leader of the gang is a young Don Stark, aka Donna’s Dad on That 70’s Show. I often couldn’t buy into the fact that these were the dudes who are the bullies of the school.

Coopersmith does have one friend – a token black character named ….I don’t even remember. That’s how little his presence adds to the movie. He gets so little screen time I often forgot the character even existed. You never actually see him and Coopersmith hanging out or doing anything friends might do together so I think this guy simply feels sorry for him. This relationship could have used a bit more fleshing out but I think the goal was to make sure you are on board with Coopersmith’s (holy shit his last name is taking up just as much room in this review as it does in the actual movie) revenge so giving him friends would have been counterproductive to this.

Also my god is this movie ever over-ambitious about what computers in 1981 were capable of. I wasn’t born at the time but I can’t imagine those computers were good for much more than “make text appear on the screen by hitting these buttons” but here we have machines that are capable of translating ancient evil text as well as any number of other impressive feats. Of course this is only one of many movies from the 80’s that featured huge leaps in technological achievement (never forgot that at one point, Rocky Balboa owned a fucking robot) but it does feel particularly silly here.

That seems like a lot of negative so let me turn this around and say that I did enjoy Evilspeak. Yes it takes a little while to get going but Coopersmith is a sympathetic character that is easy to spend time with and it does make the final act all the more satisfying. Oh and also there’s this whole thing where the evil book summons pigs to eat people with almost no explanation. You see there’s a secretary character who steals the book because she seemingly wants the jewel that’s on the front but every time she tampers with it we see these pigs getting riled up. Eventually she goes too far and the pigs burst into her bathroom while she is showering and proceed to tear open her stomach and eat her intestines. It was at that point I knew this must be a pretty good movie.

The movie is indeed quite gory and was apparently once included in the group of “Video Nasties”, a list of films that were completely banned in the UK. Of course it’s pretty tame by today’s standards but no less enjoyable. You got pigs eating people, heads getting cut off left and right, organs being ripped out of people’s bodies, it’s really good stuff and makes for a terrific finish to the film. A lot of the effects are very primitive (they didn’t even attempt to remove the strings during a scene where Coopersmith is floating through the air) but with the low budget they had to work with a lot of the practical stuff still proves impressive too.

Evilspeak is a weird one but I enjoyed it. It’s a solid revenge tale with a good performance from Clint Howard that makes up for the cartoonishly over the top bullies. Throw in a lot of strange random events and some man eating pigs and a bunch of beheadings and you have yourself a pretty enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes. Oh and yes this is another from the Scream Factory line. I think this is the fourth one so far this month and it ain’t gonna be the last either!