Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Forgotten Horrors #4: 976-EVIL

Oh, boy oh boy, where do I even begin with this one? I would love to say that I had the pleasure of viewing this film when I was really young, but that, sadly, is not the case. I do, however, remember picking up the VHS box at Kroger and looking it over. The artwork on the cover really got me and it didn't look nearly as glossy as the one presented in this post. There was some wear and tear on the edges and it smelled a little musty. The tape itself was warped slightly and a little stained as well. The images on the back of the box were quite disturbing and featured an imp-like creature holding two hearts in its hands. Well, anyways, I was too intimidated at that age to rent it so I put it back on the shelf. Fast forward some 18 years later and here I am again holding 976-Evil in my hands debating whether or not I should purchase it or just move on. After much debate I finally bought the movie, went to my apartment, popped a bowl of extra buttery popcorn, wrapped up in a blanket and hit play on the remote. An hour and a half later the movie ends and I can't help but fight the urge to stand up and clap or cheer like an elated schoolgirl on prom night.

Not only was 976-Evil a very entrancing film, but Robert Englund (Mr. Freddy K. himself) directed the darn thing. Now, how about that creeps? A movie directed by one of the coolest actors of the 80's and I had no idea as a child in Kroger while holding that worn VHS tape in my hands. If I did, I would have given the film a shot since I was at the peak of my Freddy obsession. Anyways, 976-Evil is a good 'watch it with your friends' sort of movie. I watched it solo for the first time and by the second time I had a room full of college kids with more than enough beer and liquor in their bellies so you can only imagine what the atmosphere was like. For those who are wondering what this movie is even about I'll summarize:

The film begins with a business man walking through the vacant streets of a small town. He appears frantic and worried and upon the verge of Nic-Fit city. Suddenly we hear a phone ringing (which, oddly is located at the end of an alley) and the man eventually, after much debate, picks it up and moments later the booth explodes. Fast foward to the next segment (and pretty much the rest of the movie) where we have the pleasure of meeting Stephen Geoffrey's (Fright Night) and Patrick O'Bryan's (976-Evil I and II) characters. In a nutshell O'Bryan stumbles upon this gimmicky service that dispenses advice on how to deal with one's problems (Dial 976-Evil for your Horrorscope...yadda yadda, push 666 to receive message, yadda yadda). O'Bryan (Spike) is able to use it to his advantage, but Geoffrey's (Hoax) is so impressionable that his repeated use of the service turns him into a demonic, freaky-looking imp.

Helping to firmly establish the obvious inspiration from "Carrie", 'Hoax' is saddled with an overly religious nut-job of a mother (film veteran Sandy Dennis), who, much like Piper Laurie in that other movie, was probably encouraged to go for broke in her performance. I personally feel that Dennis, in the end, just winds up being very annoying and lacks any form of fright. Her over-the-top Southern Baptist accent exaggerates its way right into a blender of Looney Tune heaven and does very little to capture the true essence of the classic Bible Thumper personality we have all encountered in our lives (in some way or another).
976-Evil contains some fantastic moments of hilarity, cheese, gore and sentiment. Hoax and Spike's relationship reminds me a lot of my childhood fascinations with the older kids who smoked cigarettes, wore ripped jeans and basically 'did what they wanted to.' Hoax's character is so damn pitiful and watching him get beat on by Spike's friends is just unbearable at times. The last 20 minutes or more of the movie are just phenomenal though and I guarantee you that the popcorn will fly for sure.

Definitely worth checking out my friends. Not to mention, you get to see 'ol Lezlie Deane for a good chunk of the movie before being offed by....well....you'll just have to see.


  1. Great review, dude. I just saw the trailer on YouTube and it looks like a decent fright flick. The tagline is killer: "Don't pick up the phone!"

    Haha, did you know that Brigitte Nielsen is in the sequel? Makes me want to watch some Fright Night now.

  2. What happened to the (Retch)-ro Images you had up? You boy needs some horror-inspired grossification up around here. Haha.