Wednesday, June 2, 2010

EVILSPEAK (1981)

Like the Pharaoh to the Jew, and whip-cracking slave driver to the cotton pickers of yore, today there suffers a new minority under the tyrannical thumb of an ultimate oppressor. Daily, this outnumbered troop’s will is ground to brine beneath the dark heels of giant Jack-boots. Drunken on blood from the stone, this force mocks the groveling of its mass victim with cruel laughter and probably a middle finger, too. Of course, the dispirited group of which I speak is non other than yours truly, and this domineering entity which keeps me from truly realizing my potential is better known as the local police department. Seriously, if I weren't accountable for my actions, I would sally forth on a holy crusade from coast to coast, baptizing pubescent shit heads in a tide of correctional violence that would ultimately make the world a better place for you and I both. If only, my friends, If only…

Anytime I bring up the fact that teenagers have reached a flamboyant apex of shittiness some dirty hippie starts going on about how every round of adolescents baffles their elders with their attempts to differentiate their generation from the previous one. Sorry Wavy Gravy, but I call bullshit. Need proof? Here you go.

Years ago, PETA managed to get an injunction passed against hunting season somewhere in New Jersey. Subsequently, the deer population boomed over the next few months. Shortly after, a PETA van struck a deer as it bolted across the highway, totaling the vehicle. Naturally, being that PETA are idiots, they decided to sue the county for failure to control the deer population.

This parallels the Columbine shooting in some ways. Those dorks in the video above are kind of like the deer PETA were trying to protect. After bullying was cited as the catalyst for the Columbine massacre everyone suddenly developed a zero-tolerance policy toward nerd-bashing. Well, congratulations assholes. Now the nerd population is totally out of control and kids are lamer than ever before.

People need to realize that bullying builds character. A little adversity goes a long way. I’ve always thought there should be something along the lines of a bar mitzvah, where when a kid turns eighteen he gets punched in the face really hard. Everyone needs to be humbled at least once in order to be a decent human being if you ask me.

Instead of an outright ban there needs to be a quality control for bullying. We need to set some standards and regulations. For instance, if a kid is wearing eyeliner and a dog leash, and telling people he’s a werewolf, beat the living shit out of him. However, if the kid is like Clint Howard in "Evil Speak" and just a little awkward, but otherwise good natured, just let him be. He’s got it hard enough.

"Evil Speak" is not so much an indictment against bullying as it is a cautionary tale outlining the differences between tough love and sadism. Set against the cold fa├žade of a fancy lad military academy, Stanley Coopersmith is the target of classist abuse at the hands of both students and administration alike. Credited with defeat at a school soccer game, Stanley is punished with the foul task of cleaning out the campus chapel’s cellar. While schlepping through cobwebs, Coopersmith stumbles upon the campus’ occult wing. Why the fuck is there an occult wing? No idea. Rifling around, Stanley finds a Satanic Grimoire, which he begins to decode with a Commodore computer. No shit.

Eventually, after being debased one time too many by classmates, clergy, and even the janitor, Stanley snaps and pledges allegiance to Beelzebub, who imbues him with the power of flight, a sword, and flesh-eating hench-pigs to wreak appropriate vengeance on the assholes who killed his puppy.

Most reviewers cast "Evilspeak" off as below-average loser-strikes-back flick, but there’s a primary difference between this movie and others of a similar ilk. For one, this thing comes off as pro-Satanist, mainly because the film’s protagonist is completely wholesome and innocent. Films like "976-EVIL," which feature immediately unlikable pervert nerds who gradually shift into power-mongering demon hosts, are usually the standard for this sub-genre. "Evilspeak"’s Coopersmith is both likable and sympathetic, and the villains are so vicious that you crave to see them destroyed. Most of the bullies in nerd revenge flicks never do something so bad that they deserve to die, so when the punishment exceeds the crime it totally paints the protagonist in an evil hue. The bullies in "Evilspeak" deserve worse than death.

I’ve also seen reviewers discard this as a forgettable waste of time. Such a statement is an admission of delusional psychosis, because seeing Clint Howard fly around on wires while slicing military cadets to pieces with a Conan sword is easily one of the most memorable things I have ever seen in any movie. Seriously, what kind of fucked up shit have you seen through your diseased mind’s eye to have been desensitized to that sort of imagery?

There’s also a shockingly well-produced prologue featuring Bull from Night Court as a fallen priest who’s ex-communicated from the church for his nudity-laden Satanic antics. The first few minutes of the movie actually look and feel better than anything else in the film, but the finale is so gonzo that it completely eclipses anything else, good or bad.

That said, the acting here is far better than average for the genre and period, and we’re treated to some familiar faces here as well. Haywood Nelson of “What’s Happenin!” fame plays Coopersmith’s outcast friend. Don Stark, better known as Bob Pinciotti from “That 70s Show,” also turns in an apt asshole performance as Bubba, the ringleader of the tormentors. Cinema dorks will also mark out for Charles Tyner’s appearance as hard-ass Colonel Kincaid here. The real star of "Evilspeak," though, is the strangely adorable Clint “Leon” Howard as the maligned hero. His performance here isn’t as over-the-top as most would have you believe. In fact, dramatically, it’s pretty sound.

There are apparently NUMEROUS cuts of this film floating around today, ranging anywhere from 92 minutes to 103 minutes, all depending on the country the release was intended for, as well as the format. I own the 92 minute original VHS release, and from what I understand at least 12 minutes of violence and gore has been omitted. Twelve fucking minutes! That's insane! There is at least one particular scene cut to sate the censors where it kind of backfires. In the director's cut, when Miss Friedemeyer is attacked in the shower by the Satanic pigs, she is obviously being devoured. However, in the ultra-censored version the attack plays out more like a pig-rape, which is way more fucked up than simply having your entrails eaten if you ask me.

While "Evilspeak" may not qualify as fine cinema, it’s still more entertaining and endearing than most five star snoozers and it’s certainly worth a look.

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