• Kelly M. Hudson

Calling Evil!

976-Evil is a film I certainly saw back in the old days when I was renting a thousand horror movies on VHS every weekend, stuffing my brain with as much video violence as I could. Thing is, I don’t remember a lick of it, but I do remember having some fondness for it. The movie stars that awesome weirdo Stephen Geoffreys and was directed by Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund. How could I not like it? But once I started watching the blu ray I’d bought months ago, nothing really jogged my memory. Except the punk rocker girlfriend. Her, I remembered.

The story is pretty convoluted and eventually devolves into a bunch of nightmarish set-pieces, none of which really make much sense. High-schooler Spike (Patrick O’Bryan) is living with his ultra-religious aunt and his mommy-domineered cousin Hoax (Geoffreys). Spike has a hot punk rocker girlfriend and runs with an unsavory gang of hooligans. He also cottons to calling a 976 number (back in the 80s and 90s, you could dial these numbers and talk to various types of people or recordings, from astrologers to psychics to sex talk and back again) that promises a daily “Horrorscope” and weird advice. Spike starts to follow this advice he’s getting from this anonymous, weird voice on the other end of the phone. He gets into some trouble and decides to back off, but by now his cousin Hoax is calling the line, and Hoax is far more susceptible to what the evil voice is commanding him to do. Next thing you know, some Satanic shit is going down and people are dying left and right, mostly tormenters of Hoax. In the end, there’s a battle to save his soul and things get weird and mostly unexplainable. Will Hoax reject the evil voice on the phone or go full-bore Satanic?

This movie has a lot going for it. First off, it’s 80s as fuck, with the hair and the fashion and the music. Second, it’s gooey and gory, all practical effects with lots of blood and interesting kills (also 80s as fuck). Third, Englund really works the atmospherics, using strange lighting and fog machines to hide that low budget and really build the otherworldly feel to the story. The acting is good and even if the story is a bit of a mess—and it is a mess, because it meanders back and forth and can’t decide if the main character is Spike or Hoax—it doesn’t really matter because all the other elements are there to make this a successfully fun, haunted jam. One other thing I noticed was that this movie may feature the most amount of on-screen cigarette-smoking I’ve ever seen. Nearly every scene has someone smoking, and they won’t put their cigarettes down for anything, including sex. One character gets half his face torn off and he’s still holding onto his cigarette. Talk about devotion.

All in all, 976-Evil is a fun little romp. There’s nothing to take serious here and nothing that is going to shake the foundations of Horror. It’s a good, solid, 80s horror flick. You got action, you got gore, you got some boobs thrown in for good measure, and you got Stephen Geoffreys, which is a treat all by itself (god I love the man). Definitely recommended.

Three Stars out of Four

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