Evilspeak (1981)

evilspeakPoor, picked-upon Pvt. Coopersmith unleashes some serious satanic comeuppance on his classmates in Evilspeak, a computer-aided variation on Brian De Palma’s classic Carrie. Orphaned after his parents’ death in an auto accident, Coopersmith (Clint Howard, Ice Cream Man) is the opposite of Big Man on Campus at the military academy where he is so despised by his soccer teammates that the coach actually insinuates they take him out so they could have a chance at winning a game for once.

A loser for life, Coopersmith finds salvation in the form of a dusty tome full of black-magic rituals he seeks to conduct in the comfort of his own dormitory basement. With the help of a personal computer one notch above the power of a Radio Shack TRS-80, he summons the vengeful spirit of Estaban (Richard Moll, aka Bull from TV’s Night Court), not to mention demonic, man-eating pigs. Oink!

evilspeak1The directorial debut of Hyenas‘ Eric Weston, Evilspeak moves surprisingly slow for an exploitation film, but Howard keeps its head above water. His nervous, gosh-oh-golly-gee-whiz demeanor hardly makes for a note-perfect performance, but he’s so believable as the used-and-abused nerd that an introverted viewer really will feel for the guy — both the character and the actor. Evilspeak‘s cult following seems to be a case of overstatement — after all, better possession pictures exist from the VHS era — but we’ll chalk its popularity up to the relatability of the social outcast/underdog. —Rod Lott

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