Evilspeak (1981)

If you’ve happened to raise a punk ass kid who tends to be a bully make sure to sit them down to watch this flick.  If they ask why tell them the moral of the story is sometimes bullies get their friggin’ heads split open.  Code Red brings back the unholy grail of early 80s horror, EVILSPEAK, with a brand new hi-definition master from vault elements!  

Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard) is a misfit of the highest caliber, he’s a good kid but he really doesn’t fit in at West Andover Military Academy.  The colonel (Charles Tyner) has taken a special interest in ensuring that he makes a good soldier.  Not only does he worry about being under the ever watchful eye of the colonel, but his lack of athletic ability earns him the enmity of the coach and his fellow cadets making him the target of bullying and derision.  Even the kindly pastor (Joe Cortese) loses his patience with Stanley and assigns him to clean out the chapel cellar.  His only friend on staff is Jake (Lenny Montana) the cook who makes sure Coopersmith eats well and even gives him a puppy.

While Stanley cleans the chapel cellar he comes across a hidden chamber with carvings of pig’s heads on the wall and mysterious satanic symbols throughout.  He also finds the tome and tomb of Esteban (Richard Moll) the apostate priest.  Centuries before, Esteban and his followers were banished for heresy to what becomes California, and a dark monastery was built upon the same land that is now home to the military academy.  Stanley tries to use Esteban’s grand grimoire and since he can’t read Latin he seeks out high tech help with one of the computers he steals from the academy lab.  With the soon to be haunted technology in place Stanley begins to make progress towards celebrating the Black Mass and allowing for Esteban’s return to fulfill his curse.   

Stanley is eventually possessed by the spirit of Esteban after completing the ritual.  He uses his new found abilities to deal with those who have caused him so much misery as he blasts through walls and heads as he flies around the chapel wielding Esteban’s sword.  Using fire, Satanic hogs and steel he unleashes Esteban’s wrath…on the colonel and the soccer team.  Apparently the curse only extends to the soccer team because things mostly return to normal after they are dealt with.  But don’t let the limited scope of the curse fool you because the massacre at the chapel is an unholy orgy of shocking violence that is a true spectacle to behold.  

This is a film that is every bit as good as I remember it being from when I rented at the local mom n’ pop.  An underdog tale full of suspense, violence and gore that gives the viewer the choice of cheering the now evil protagonist on as he exacts revenge on his classmates or to be appalled as power corrupts the youth as he disproportionately lashes out against those who have wronged him.  I don’t know…I tend to cheer when the first head gets split.

The practical effects are phenomenal and the computer effects reach the happy medium of cheese and nostalgia.  The acting is top notch and with the cast that shouldn’t be a surprise at all.  EVILSPEAK is a who’s who of veteran character actors.  Just check out some of these names: R.G. Armstrong, Charles Tyner, Claude Earl Jones, Richard Moll, Hamilton Camp, Lenny Montana, and Joe Cortese.  The only part that annoys is Clint Howard providing commentary to no one in particular with his exposition ie.”the alarm clock is unplugged!”  Everyone can see that once you grab the cord no need to verbalize…this is more a problem with script anyway.  Clint is really good too.  

The transfer stands head and shoulders above Anchor Bay’s composite transfer with its uncut hi-definition master from negativesCode Red DVD features include a commentary with writer/director/producer Eric Weston, interviews with Clint Howard, Don Stark, and Joe Cortese along with trailers for EVILSPEAK, DEATH MACHINES, JUST BEFORE DAWN, THE POLICE CONNECTION, VAMPIRES’ NIGHT ORGY, THE FOLKS AT RED WOLF INN, RAW FORCE, and STIGMA.

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