Evilspeak (1981) poster

Evilspeak (1981)


USA. 1981.


Director – Eric Weston, Screenplay – Eric Weston & Joseph Garofalo, Story – Joseph Garofalo, Producers – Eric Weston & Silvio Tabet, Photography – Irv Goodnoff, Music – Roger Kellaway, Photographic Effects – Robert D. Bailey, Special Effects – John Carter & Harry Woolman, Makeup Effects – Makeup Effects Lab (Supervisors – Allan Apone, Frank Carriosa & Douglas White), Art Direction – George Costello & Dena Roth. Production Company – Lenure Investment Co/Coronet Film Corporation.


Clint Howard (Stanley Coopersmith), Don Stark (David ‘Bubba’ Caldwell), Charles Tyner (Colonel Kincaid), Joseph Cortese (Reverend Jameson), R.G. Armstrong (Sarge), Lenny Montana (Jake), Louie Gravance (JoJo), Jim Greenleaf (Ox), Lynn Hancock (Miss Freidemayer), Richard Moll (Father Lorenzo Esteban)


Stanley Coopersmith is a bullied cadet at the West Andover military academy. Placed on punishment detail, he is sent to clean up the chapel basement. There he finds a secret chamber containing several ancient tomes in Latin. He brings a computer down to translate them. As he sets to work, the personality of Father Esteban Lorenzo, a priest excommunicated by the Church in the 16th Century for practicing Satanism, begins to manifest through the computer. Becoming obsessed, Stanley uses the powers from the books to exact horrible revenge against his tormentors.

Evilspeak is one of the most amazingly silly horror films that one has seen. It is construed as a variation on the big hit of the Carrie (1976) and similarly has a wimp/underdog takes revenge with the aid of some supernatural power. This has been crosshatched with the occult/Devil worship themes that were all the in-thing towards the end of the 1970s after hits such as Rosemary’s Baby (1968), The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976).

Diminutive, bugged out Clint Howard (the younger brother of Ron Howard), plays the role to nervous, wholly unlikable excess. However, the film is constructed all wrong – the crude emotional thrust of films like this should be with the taking of revenge on the tormentors in sadistic strung-out detail, a la The Omen and its conveyor belt of novelty deaths. Instead, the film mixes up where this thrust should be, placing it on Clint Howard perfecting the occult ritual in protracted detail, only letting the revenge scenes take place in one outburst at the end – the model it seems to be drawing on is less the occult film than the underdog explodes in vengeance story of Carrie (1976). With the exception of an hilariously silly scene where a woman is dispatched by killer pigs while showering, the entire film is one long drawn-out wait.

Clint Howard flies through the burning chapel in Evilspeak (1981)
Clint Howard flies through the burning chapel

When all of this does start to happen at the climax, Evilspeak outdoes itself in terms of silliness. We get scenes with Clint Howard throwing a body through the air where it is impaled on a chandelier and the blood drains into a handily placed goblet, or of chaplain Joseph Cortese being impaled in the forehead by a nail popped out from the statue of a crucified Christ as he gives a sermon. The final image of the diminutive Clint Howard exploding through the floorboards of the chapel, his receding foreline made to stand upright as he flies through the air, lopping the heads off his tormentors with a sword is one of the most unintentionally funny in all of 1980s horror films.

Evilspeak was the directorial debut of Eric Weston who has gone on to direct eight other films, although only one other horror film with Hyenas (2011). He has also written/produced the killer birds film (1987) and the adventure film Treasure of the Moon Goddess (1987) and produced The Frankenstein Syndrome (2010) and Feast of Fear (2019).

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