Sunday, October 17, 2010


One of the side benefits of this blog is that I have a means of somewhat justifying the absurd amount of money I spend each year on horror movies. It’s a justification that’s worked out well for me over the years, in my ongoing efforts to slowly acquire every horror movie of note, such as this little 80s gem, which is mainly famous for being Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund’s directorial debut.

The film stars Stephen Geoffreys as a teenage loser who gets bullied by just about everyone, from the school’s criminal element, to girls, to his domineering religious fanatic mother. All of this begins to change, however, when he discovers an ad for 976-EVIL, a phone hotline where he can hear his horrorscope, which gives him advice on how to change his life for the more evil, as well as granting him unholy powers to deal with all of the enemies in his life.

Englund’s first outing as a director is pretty uneven, it must be said, with more than its fair share of dull moments. Really, virtually all of the scenes without anything horror-oriented tend to fall flat, so it’s rather obviously where his head was at while making the movie. He does make up for that with the actual horror scenes, which he does a much better job with, and he has the wisdom to make sure that all the dull scenes are in the middle of the film, making sure the opening and climax are just awesome.

Seriously, the film opens with a guy answering a public phone at night, and being promptly electrocuted and set on fire before being sent flying as the entire damn phone booth explodes (you can see part of this in the trailer below). It’s masterful in its ridiculousness, and even it is blown away by the climax, when Geoffreys is in full demonic possession mode, making snow and flames appear everywhere, slashing people’s faces off with his clawed demon hand, and just hamming it up as much as someone should when possessed by a demon. There’s also a great scene about halfway through where he gets his revenge on a girl by utilizing her fear of spiders to cast a spell that summons an army of tarantulas to her house to kill her. It’s a bit of a dick move, but I always appreciate the extra effort involved in crafting suitable ironic deaths, rather than the more standard knife or axe kill.

If someone were to ask me what the best horror movies of the 1980s were, this would not even make my list (unless it was like a Top 200 or something, in which case expect a whole lot of filler). However, overall it’s a pretty enjoyable film, one that was popular enough to warrant a sequel in the early 90s. It’s hardly anything you need to go out of your way to seek, but if it happens to be on TV, I can think of a great many worse movies you could be watching instead, several of which you probably already have.

Rating: ***

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