Evilspeak (1981)
By: Drexl on September 22, 2004  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Anchor Bay (UK). Region 2, PAL. 1.77:1 (16:9 enhanced). English 2.0, English DD 5.1, English DTS 5.1. English Subtitles. 99 minutes & 88 minutes.
The Movie
Director: Eric Weston
Starring: Clint Howard, R. G. Armstrong, Jospeh Cortese, Claude Earl Jones, Haywood Nelson, Don Stark, Charles Tyner, Hamilton Camp, Louie Gravance
Screenplay:Joseph Garofalo, Eric Weston
Music:Roger Kellaway
Tagline: 'Data Incomplete…Human Blood Required.'
Country: USA
Stanley Coopersmith is the class clown at West Andover Military Academy. Incapable of showing up on time for his classes and lacking in sporting skills of any kind, everything Coopersmith, (charmingly nicknamed 'Cooperdick' by his cruel 'classmates'), touches gets screwed up in the most embarrassing way imaginable. Our chubby hero is assigned the task of tidying up the gloomy depths of the academy's chapel as punishment for one of this many foul-ups. Here is where Stanley's luck takes a change for the better (?) as the crypts were once used by a 16th century Satanist by the name of Esteban, (introduced to the viewers in a short prologue, hacking off the head of a topless young lady.) Coopersmith discovers Estaban's copy of 'The Idiot's Guide To Black Magic' and, with the aid of a prehistoric computer system and a few splashes of human blood, Stanley unleashed the powers of evil (and a bunch of blood-thirsty pigs) to wreak bloody revenge on his less than friendly classmates.

The term 'guilty pleasure' gets used quite often among horror fans. Films that aren't especially good; films that really should not be worth the bother but somehow, for some reason, end up being pretty decent fun - Evilspeak is a film that falls into this category. I can't really explain why this movie is so damn entertaining, especially when you break it down: acting is pretty lousy, (although Howard is fun as the accident-prone nerd, Coopersmith), direction is average and the film suffers from poor pacing, but it's still an enjoyable way to kill an hour or two. On the plus side the Omen inspired soundtrack is very effective, full of demonic chanting, doom-laden piano riffs and screechy effects plus, the early scenes of Coopersmith exploring the dark and cobweb-covered crypts are genuinely spooky. Evilspeak's main selling point though is the gore. The patient viewer, awaiting scenes of cinematic carnage, will be rewarded during the film's final 20 minutes or so, as the film really delivers the goods, splatter-wise. Scenes of Coopersmith's revenge are stuffed full of head-splittings, gut-chompings, decapitations and a scene of the main badguy having his heart graphically torn out. The special effects for the gore scenes are very nicely done and suitably splattery. Gorehounds will be pretty pleased with the amount of red stuff being chucked around.

Inevitably, with the amount of carnage on display in the movie's later scenes, Evilspeak was released in various watered-down versions, both in the USA and the UK. The US tape edition was trimmed of gore and further cut (dialogue scenes) to reduce it's runtime and quicken the pacing of the film. In the UK the pre-VRA release was the full-length, uncensored version of the movie, which soon fell foul of the do-gooders and the VRA due it's explicit blood-letting. Post-VRA versions in the UK (both on VHS and DVD) were heavily censored but, happily, the BBFC have now seen sense and passed the film uncut for UK audiences. Anchor Bay UK have bundled the two cuts of the film together in this DVD package - the shorter US edit and the full-length UK version. Both versions are uncensored with regards to the gore content, so purchasers of this set can choose which cut of the film they prefer, happy in the knowledge that they are not missing out on any of the movie's gory highlights. (The Anchor Bay USA release only carries the shorter cut of the film.)
Both cuts of the film are presented in 16/9 widescreen and look pretty decent, certainly as good as it's gonna get for this movie. Print damage is minimal, the transfer looks good colour-wise and detail levels are decent enough. The transfer inevitably suffers from some grain but it's not excessive. The UK edit has a slight drop in quality when the additional scenes appear on screen but it's hardly intrusive.
The US edit of the film has the option of a 5.1 or a DTS soundtrack. The surround tracks are nice and clean but hardly designed to showcase those expensive home cinema set-ups. Other than that, it's plain old stereo but, again, a nice clean track with a not a hiss, pop or crackle to be found. The UK edit lacks the surround options.
Extra Features
Disc one, (the USA cut) carries a commentary track with Eric Weston and Clint Howard. It's hardly the most exciting track I've ever heard but there is a fair amount of background information on the movie to be gained, so it's worth a listen. Finishing up the small selection of bonus materials, we have the film's trailer, filmographies, film notes (reproduced on the inlay) and the inevitable slide-show of behind-the-scenes photos and promo art. Disc two (the UK edit) carries a few trailers for films that Anchor Bay UK have picked up for theatrical release, including Jim Van Bebber's Charlie's Family/The Manson Family.
The Verdict
As I mentioned earlier, I can't quite pinpoint why I like this movie, I just do. It's undeniably a 'guilty pleasure' and serves it's purpose as an undemanding splatter pic very well. The convincing (and plentiful) gore effects will help gorehounds to forgive the film for it's slightly slow middle section and the soundtrack is pretty funky. The film is given a satisfactory audio/video presentation and the extras are a worthwhile addition. Since this UK release contains two cuts of the film, potential purchasers should grab this release in preference to the USA edition.
Movie Score
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