Post-Carrie, we’ve seen so many films where people turn to the Devil to help them fit in or fight back against bullies. But let’s face it — when you dress up Carrie White or Sissy Spacek or Chloë Grace Moretz, they end up being attractive. But Clint Howard? There’s really no dressing up Clint.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the man and his many, many contributions to film (Balok from the Star Trek TV series, Carnosaur, Apollo 13, Rock ‘n Roll High School and so much more). But you can totally see how he fits his role as Stanley Coopersmith in this movie.
Evilspeak starts in the past, where Satanist Father Esteban (Richard Moll, who ends up in these reviews a lot, thanks to films like The Nightmare Never Ends and The Dungeonmaster) and his followers are exiled from Spain and denied the grace of God, unless they renounce Satan and his evil ways. We wouldn’t have a movie if they gave in, right?
Fast forward to the 80’s. Stanley Coopersmith is an orphan, a poor kid who has been allowed into a military school alongside the children of some of the nation’s richest and most powerful people. Everybody — including the teachers — pretty much use Stanley like a punching bag. While cleaning the church cellar, he finds Father Esteban’s room, which is filled with black magic books and a diary. Stanley uses his 1981 computer skills to translate the book and learn more about Esteban. My words will not translate how great Stanley’s Apple II’s computing power is.
The next morning, Stanley’s classmates tie up his clothes and unplug his alarm clock, which leads him to be punished. As he cleans the stables, the school secretary finds Esteban’s diary. As she plays with the jewel’s on the cover, pigs attack Stanley. He returns to his room to find all of his belongings destroyed and his book gone.
Sick of running out of computer time, Stanley steals a computer and sets it up in the basement. He’s only missing a few ingredients — human blood and a consecrated host.
That evening, the cook takes pity on Stanley and gives him Fred, a puppy. Seriously, this is the only person in the entire film that treats our hero with an ounce of respect, unlike Coach Collins in Carrie, who tries throughout the film to treat her well.
Stanley gets the Eucharist he needs and notices Esteban’s portrait. As he begins the ritual, students in masks and robes attack him. Stanley’s woes are compounded when the caretaker accuses him of being a thief and attacks him. He yells for help and the computer starts up, revealing a pentagram. Suddenly, the caretaker’s head is spun around, killing him. As he hides the body in the catacombs, Stanley finds decapitated skeletons and Father Esteban’s crypt.
The secretary tries to pry the jewels out of the black magic book, but bleeds all over it. As she takes a shower, demonic boars attack and eat her. This scene is gratuitous as fuck. It is also incredibly awesome, because the movie is just about to stop torturing Stanley and go off the rails.
Stanley gets attacked by his soccer team, who tells him that if he tries to play in the big game, they’ll kill Fred the dog. After seeing him get beaten, the principal kicks him off the team. And it gets worse. As the team goes out drinking, they break into his hidden room and kill his dog.
At this point, I was screaming at the screen for Stanley to do something. It was if he was listening. He steals another piece of communion and kills a teacher who follows him in by throwing him into a spiked wheel. The ritual begins and Father Esteban takes control of Stanley’s body, taking up a sword and attacking the church service above.
What follows is a near orgy of destruction. A nail from the Crucifix goes right into the brain of a priest. Wild demon boars emerge while Stanley levitates above them and starts chopping off everyone’s heads in gory, bloody geysers. The lead bully runs, only to meet the zombie caretaker, who rips out his heart. Then, Stanley burns the church to the ground.
I’m not understating this — this is literally five or six minutes of pure Satanic destruction. Everyone that did anything to Stanley for the past running time of the film gets it good. It was enough to get this film classified as a “video nasty” in the UK and there were even more gore scenes, but they have supposedly been lost forever after MPAA cuts. The final UK release had none of the Black Mass text and none of the gore at the end — what a loss!
If the film ended here, it would be the best movie ever. But no, producer Sylvio Tabet was a devout Christian. That’s why he added a Khalil Gibran quote in the prologue and ended the film with a caption that states that only Stanley survived the attack, but went catatonic and is Sunnydale Asylum. That said — Stanley’s face shows up on the computer in the basement and promises, “I will return.”
I discovered a great article that discusses just how Evilspeak was allowed to be shot in a Catholic church. Another urban legend of the film is that upon refurbishing part of the church, an aged priest saw the “new church” and dropped to his knees to thank God. I hope he never saw the film, one that Anton LaVey believed explained the Satanic faith (it appears on the approved films list of the Church of Satan’s website and Magus Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of the COS stated that the film is Satanic because it depicts “a fellow who is treated unjustly gets revenge on his cruel tormentors. But of course, there are some nifty jabs at Christian hypocrisy along the way…”).