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Friday, May 23, 2014

Evilspeak Blu-Ray Review

Prior to its U.S theatrical release, the distributor of the film requested that the graphic violence be cut to avoid an “X” rating from the MPAA. The film has been completely restored from a newly discovered 35mm inter-positive source including all of its long rumored scenes of bloody carnage. This new edition includes all-new extras including a new commentary by producer/director Eric Weston (Hyenas). Life sucks for Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard), a teenage outcast who’s bullied by everyone at a strict military academy. When Stanley discovers the crypt of a 16th century Satanist beneath the chapel, he creates a computerized Black Mass that unleashes unholy revenge upon his tormentors. Now all hell is about to break loose! Evilspeak is not for the faint of heart.

Film (2 out of 5 stars)
Stanley Coopersmith is bullied. He attends a private military academy, plays on the soccer team and is picked on by the other boys, and even the teachers. One day, as punishment, he is assigned to clean the basement of the campus chapel. Once there, he discovers the crypt of an old priest and finds his journal. Coopersmith takes the book and begins translating it with help from his computer. 

After another bullying incident, Coopersmith is sent to the headmaster’s office and leaves the journal on the desk of the secretary, who then steals the book and takes it home. The journal has a strange medallion on the top and when the secretary tries to peel it off, strange things happen. Meanwhile, Coopersmith has returned to the basement crypt and brought along his computer to help him translate the text he had already entered from the book. As it translates, Coopersmith reads it out loud and sees that it is a spell which summons Satan. He finishes the spell and even more strange and creepy things begin happening, including his being attacked by Satanic-looking creatures.

As Coopersmith continues being bullied, he finds an ally in the school chef, who gives him a puppy…, the runt of the litter. Coopersmith hides the puppy in the crypt and hopes no one find him. Unfortunately, the bullies find the crypt, and the puppy. When Coopersmith returns and finds that the bullies found out about his secret refuge, he finished the spell, and all hell breaks loose!

Evilspeak could have been so much better. The story wasn’t terrible, the acting was so-so, but I really wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a comedy or not. When I read that the Motion Picture Association of America wanted to give it an X rating, I was shocked. But, after watching the film and keeping in mind that it was from 1981, I could understand why. By today’s standards, Evilspeak is tame – the nudity, blood, violence, etc. is more than filmgoers were probably used to at the time. Clint Howard was a good Stanley Coopersmith and was believable as the kid who was bullied and the bullies were just that… bullies. They were very believable jerks!
Video (1 1/2 out of 2 stars)
The 1080p high-definition widescreen presentation of Evilspeak is just okay. There are a lot of spots on the film and the picture is very grainy. With today’s ability to transfer film to Blu-Ray, I expected a lot better quality. Shadows in the scenes blended too much with the background and it was difficult to see where shadows ended and black began. The graininess and the low quality of the picture, for me, took away from the film because I spent a lot of time following the spots on the film.
Audio (1 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The DTS-HD Master Audio Mono with English subtitles was not that impressive. It was typical 80s sound, with synthesizers and over-the-top sounds, but the difference in volume between the dialogue and the background/sound effects was huge. I started the film with the volume at the normal level I watch TV or movies, and quickly had to turn it down. A minute later, I was turning it back up so I could hear what was being said. Some of the dialogue was lost in the background and some had an echo to it. Again, given today’s technology, I was less than impressed with the audio in this film.
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
While not robust, the extras were a bit interesting.  I enjoyed hearing the cast talk about the film and about how they became involved with it.  Hearing their thoughts on the script was interesting, as well, since it wasn’t the greatest script.  But, I guess everyone has to start somewhere.
  • Satan’s pigs and Severed heads: The Making of Evilspeak – A 30 minute discussion with some of the cast and director of Evilspeak.  It was interesting to hear the cast’s views on the film and how they got involved with it. 
  • Effects Speak with Allan A. Apone – This is a 15 minute behind-the-scenes look at the special effects for Evilspeak.  In it, Allan Apone, the special effects lead, talks about his effects, why they were chosen and how they were made.
  • Cast Interviews – Interviews with Clint Howard (Stanley Coopersmith), Don Stark (Bubba Caldwell) and Joe Cortese (Reverend Jameson).  These are about 10 minutes each and in each, the actors discuss their roles and their thoughts about the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer – The official trailer for Evilspeak.
  • Under the “Audio” tab – Commentary with Producer/Director Eric Weston
Summary (2 out of 5 stars)
Evilspeak is a typical 1980s horror film. Lots of cheesy background music and a bit of overacting. There was one point where a character is supposed to be floating in the air and while you can’t see the actual wires, you can see he’s wearing a harness just based on how his pants are pulled up. I think that if this movie was remade today, it could be done as a true horror movie and terrify the audience to their very core. When watching, keep in mind that it was 1981 – effects and technology weren’t as advanced as they are today, but also, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the filmmakers didn’t use the technology available to them, as it comes across as super low-budget. I haven’t decided if Evilspeak is something I will watch again – maybe on a 80s horror movie night, though.
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