Review : Evilspeak (1982)

Evilspeak was directed by Eric Weston in 1982 and stars Clint Howard in the lead role. It was banned in the United Kingdom during the video nasties purge in the early 1980’s. Evilspeak tells the story of a military academy student, victim of constant bullying by his fellow classmates, who manages to unleash evil forces to take his revenge on his tormentors.

Evilspeak was very different from what I expected, especially knowing the film was part of the video nasties. Instead of a straight-up horror film, it is more of a revenge thriller. It focuses on its main character and develops the story until the gory action begins and feels justified.

Coopersmith, played by Clint Howard, is a shy nerdy teenager who lost his parents in a car accident. He is being bullied by other students and treated harshly by some of the school staff. He only finds comfort in the company of a puppy given to him by the only positive person he meets in the school : the cafeteria cook. Evilspeak shows a lot of the struggles Coopersmith is going through and his tormentors become increasingly cruel as the movie progresses. I thought treating the story in such a way was a smart move as the violence that ensues in the final act is very satisfying as watching the bullies get killed is something the viewer is waiting for all along.

It is sometimes silly and cheesy but it is full of fun ideas such as using pigs as evil animals doing satanic deeds instead of something more typical like wolves. Also, Coopersmith uses a computer to translate an old satanic book. The mix of technology (especially in an underground ritual chamber) and ancient black magic was really silly and fun.

While the first two acts focus on the characters and the story, the final act abruptly becomes over-the-top and gory. The tone changes as fast as our main character suddenly lets his rage out after keeping his pain bottled up for so long. Evilspeak could have been more bloody throughout but there is plenty of gore in its conclusion.

Though the film shows its age and the special effects don’t hold up very well, the tension is well-built and Evilspeak is a must-see for any genre enthusiast. Clint Howard gives a very good performance and the film is overall very enjoyable. It is one of those forgotten gems that deserves attention.

The blu-ray released by 88 Films has an excellent transfer, both regarding audio and video, and presents the remastered uncut version of the film. It also has a lot of interesting bonus features giving insight on the film : an audio commentary, various special effects featurettes and more.


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