What is even scarier than being groped? One of the most exciting yet under-the radar Blu-ray releases of the year is “976-EVIL,” a forgotten but very interesting 1988 horror film directed by Robert Englund. His tenure as Freddy Krueger in the “Elm Street” series serves him well here as he spins a ghoulish tale of sex, bullying and revenge. Stephen Geoffreys (Evil Ed in “Fright Night”) stars as Hoax, the most geeky, nerdy, creepy teenager since Carrie White. What a crazy actor. He was great in Fright Night. Did he overact in 976 evil? Yes!And he wound up not getting roles except as a gay porn bottom, which we will have to overlook in this review, and maybe takes this film down a half a star out of prejudice.
Loathed by his classmates, he idolizes his cousin Spike (Patrick O’Bryan). Spike has been using the creepy phone number that gives the movie its title and it has been helping him get what he wants. In the end, however, he decides the whole thing is too creepy and throws it away. Unfortunately, Hoax finds the phone number and starts using it to get revenge on his creepy, religious mother (Sandy Dennis), on Spike’s girlfriend, and on Spike’s card playing buddies. At the end of the film, he turns into a demon, and only Spike and a private investigator (Jim Meltzer) stand in the way of hell on earth.
This movie is very interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, everyone in the movie is evil on one way or another. With no “good” characters we are left wondering how things will turn out. Secondly, this is a very gruesome movie with some memorable kills and one-liners. Director Englund is presumably responsible for that. Thirdly, this is an early screenplay by Brian Helgeland (who went on to win an Oscar for “L.A. Confidential.” Lastly, Geoffreys is simply the man as Hoax; he owns the movie.
You gotta watch it for the line “can I enter this hand with two hearts?” while throwing two beating human hearts onto the poker table. And the line, “Can I give you a hand with that?”, while severing someone’s arm. This film has no redeeming value except for entertainment. It seems to relish in Satanism and depravity. Truly it is an evil film, that lives up to its title.
The new Blu-ray features an amazing high-definition transfer of the theatrical version of the film as well as a “retro VHS” transfer that is 12 minutes longer. There is also a commentary track with Robert Englund and his wife. If you’re looking for a scary good time, look no further than the new Blu-ray of “976-EVIL”!