Whoah. I don’t even know where to start with this particular early 80’s horror movie starring Clint Howard as the ill-fated Stanley Coopersmith. Written by Eric Weston and Joseph Garafalo and directed by Weston, Evilspeak is an interesting bridge between the coming of the technological zeitgeist and the ebbing of the ‘Great Satanic Panic’ that held parents and grandparents aghast during a large part of the late 60’s thru the mid 80’s*. The film bridges these seemingly contradictory eras by, of course, presupposing that if one had a computer, one could of course use it to, ah, well, I’m not sure exactly how the computer element works in Evilspeak. I know Coopersmith, who is constantly picked on by every single other person in the military academy he lives in after his parents died in an accident, and who stumbles upon an enormous Satanic lair in the basement of the academy’s chapel (an enormous Satanic lair that apparently no one else working or attending the school has ever encountered, despite almost every main characters’ near constant frequenting of said basement and the fact that surly ol’ Sarge ((R.G. Armstrong)) essentially lives there and doesn’t come up to see the sun from the bottom of his nearly inexhaustable supply of Scotch), Coopersmith utilizes what looks like an early 80’s IBM computer to assist him in his slow but steady descent into performing full-fledged Black Masses. How does Mr. Coopersmith use the computer for this purpose? Well, again, it’s a bit of a mystery. He opens an old Grimoire, lights a shit ton of candles (which then remain lit for the remainder of the movie, day in, day out) and speaks the sacred words aloud, pausing every once in a while to type questions into the over-sized IBM, green-hued monitor. Questions like, ‘what do I need to finish the ritual’ and, ah, other such questions one might ask google these days, but remember, in 1981 this is essentially the equivalent of thinking the computer a god that can answer any question. And here’s the thing. It works**.
I have thus far been unable to figure out if the film is trying to suggest that the Satan priest Esteban who we see at the start of the film – played by one Richard “Night Court’s Bull” Moll – was actually somehow living inside this particular computer or if the creators were simply suggesting that soon enough the then-relatively new technology of computers would become omnipotent. I’m thinking the later, although the connection between Esteban’s banishment from Spain during the Dark Ages and his subsequent arrival inside Twentieth Century technology is never explained. Explained or not this technological possession does in fact seem to be the case, as whenever Coopersmith gets close to completing a black ritual the aforementioned machine seems to get very excited, flashing 8-bit (or would even that paultry figure be too sophisticated for that era’s computers?) graphics of pentagrams and the words “I Will Return” until finally, in the climax-
Oh wait, I don’t want to give it away. Let it just be said that Coopersmith flies through the air on a just-barely concealed wire and swings a sword with ravaging vengence, a stampede of murderous pigs flooding the chapel just beneath his feet …
Oh wait, did I forget to mention the pigs? Silly, silly me. Yes, for some reason there is a pig pen at the school, and as soon as the Dean’s mousy-but-hot secretary gets her hands on one of Coopersmith’s newly acquired grimoires he accidentally leaves in her office, we see the animals apparently go crazy whenever someone other than the chosen vessel gets their hands on it. This scene makes an interesting set-up for what truly is one of the grandest moments in early-80’s horror history, as this original juxtaposition of the secretary playing with the book intercut with scenes of the pigs grunting and squealing in, ah, anger? eventually leads to the scene of the secretary, now at home and apparently no where near the pig pen, stripping naked (of course, this is the 80’s, remember. And no, it’s not Linea Quigley) and then being ambushed by said swine, who proceed to not only track mud all over her apartment but also rip her freakin’ throat out.
Yeah, I can wrap this up so you can hop over to anywhere other than amazon and order it, no problem.
Anyway, if you love Night of the Demons (the original), Mike Mendez’s The Convent (not to be confused with utter teenage drek the covenant) or any other such 80’s-ish horror/comedy, you MUST see this flick. See it, or Esteban might just send his devil-pigs to your crib next time you’re thinking of getting in the shower.
* No one is afraid of the big bad devil any more, only terrorists.
** I’ve been reading a lot of Lovecraft again and thought I’d italicize that last part much as old Howard does when he drops a suspense bomb.