Director Eric Weston’s 1981 film Evilspeak gets compared to Carrie a lot, with its pathetic outsider constantly harassed by the more popular kids in school. Here it’s a military academy, so you know the student body is made up of more brutal assholes than a public school. The outsider is played by the prolific Clint Howard, who embodies the film’s loser mind, body, and soul. That last statement gets quite literal towards the end of the film, when Howard’s soul becomes possessed by the spirit of a centuries old Satanist (Richard Moll – House). While it’s not the most original tale, Evilspeak does manage to entertain with its deliriously insane climax.
Howard stars as cadet Stanley Coopersmith (or, “Cooperdick” by his peers). Stanley is an orphan, sent to the school by his relatives who have no interest in taking care of the clumsy, awkward kid. At school, he gets it from both ends. The students and faculty give him shit every chance they get. When he blows a big soccer game, he’s ordered to clean out the basement underneath the campus chapel. There Stanley stumbles upon an ancient manuscript written by Father Esteban (Moll), a Satanist who once summoned the Devil during a Black Mass. Through this text, Stanley finds his ticket for sweet, Satanic revenge.
There’s a technological angle in Evilspeak that’s fun, but never fully explored. The text Stanley finds is in Latin, so he uses a translate program to decipher it. The spirit of Father Esteban gradually takes over the computer (at least I think that’s what happens) and this leads to some really cool graphics with pentagrams and naked ladies and shit. It’s suggested that the computer, which Stanley keeps hidden in the chapel basement, plays a major role in the summoning of Esteban, but I think it was included solely for the purpose of cool ’80s graphics.
Evilspeak takes a while to really get going, but once it does, buckle up. The finale is genuinely bonkers, with Clint Howard establishing himself as the lord of evil pigs. He wields a sword and floats through the air with his hair up in troll doll fashion. Three decades later, it’s still a jaw-dropping site. This is a great lead role for Howard. He earns our sympathy really quick as the mellow loser, then closes the film as this demi-god of carnage, cutting fools’ heads off. Man, it’s a beautiful site and despite its lack of creativity, Evilspeak manages to one helluva ride.
Scream Factory offers up the film in HD for the first time, following Code Red’s uncut DVD from last year. Details are sharp and the colors are strong. There is some print damage here and there, but nothing that overtly distracts from the film. The mono soundtrack is solid as well. The film’s score is really bizarre and features lots of chanting, if you’re into that.
The commentary track features director and co-writer Eric Weston and moderator Bill Olsen from Code Red. They go over the basic stuff, but the details he gives on effects work is by far the most interesting (you can totally see the wires hanging Howard in this HD presentation). Working with pigs sounds awful.
The other special features carried over from the Code Red release are the cast interviews with Howard, Joseph Cortese, Claude Earl Jones, Haywood Nelson, Richard Moll, and Don Stark. Howard’s interview is pretty interesting. He talks about how he initially didn’t want to do the picture because of all the demonic elements, but his old man talked him into it.
New to the Blu-ray is a 30 minute documentary about the making of the film, which fans will definitely want to check out. It features cast and crew going over a lot of the film’s details and what it was like on set. There’s also a separate interview with effects wizard Allan Apone who covers details about the film’s gruesome effects.
The added features and video upgrade should make Scream Factory’s Evilspeak Blu-ray a welcome upgrade, even if fans purchased the Code Red DVD just last year.