976-EVIL (1988) from Tuna

Tuna's comments in white, Scoop's in yellow:

976-EVIL (1988) marked the directorial debut of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund).

Scoop's note: He hasn't been offered an additional opportunity in the subsequent 14 years, which tells you about all you need to know about the film.

Two High School boys, cousins, live with a very domineering and religious mother/aunt. Patrick O'Bryan, known as Spike, is the nephew, rides a Harley, has a girlfriend, and other than his gambling addiction, is pretty together. His cousin Stephen Geoffreys, known as Hoax, definitely shows the results of his mother's upbringing, and is the school picked-on nerd. Spike loses too much at poker, and calls 976-evil for his horoscope. He gets the answer, and pays his debt without losing his bike. Cousin Hoax discovers the number in Spike's room, and starts calling. He eventually makes a deal with the devil, and wreaks havoc with all of his enemies.

For me, this film had nothing going for it except a strong but irritating performance from Geoffreys. The plot went from boring to impossible, there was nobody to like, and many events were thrown in "just because," such as live fish raining from the sky on the mother's head. Some, who did not have a good High School experience, can relate to the Hoax character, but for most of us, this is a film to avoid.


Lezlie Deane, as Spike's girlfriend, shows breasts during a sex scene wearing his leather jacket.

Scoop's notes: I haven't seen this movie, but as I looked it up in IMDb, I discovered that there is an actor named Evil Wilhelm.  He's not "Evel", like Evel Knievel, nor is evil his nickname. He's not Hoyt "Evil" Wilhelm. Furthermore, it is not a title. He is not Evil Kaiser Wilhem, for example. No, apparently Evil is his real first name. What were his parents thinking of? Parents, if you have to give your kid a dumb-ass name, make it something the other kids will envy, not laugh at. How about Hercules Wilhelm, or Cool Papa Wilhelm, Kickass Wilhelm, Duke Wilhelm, Macho Wilhelm, Big Dick Wilhelm, or Doctor Wilhelm. But Evil? What kind of hopes did you have for this kid? Did you look at his bassinet, and dream of how he'd be a really despised used car salesman, or an incompetent orthodontist?

Mr. Wilhelm has only one credit at IMDb. He played the Radio Werewolf in Mortuary Academy. This reminds me of my own greatest role as the Radio Mime in Crystal Blue Strawberry Love, a Woodstock-era hippie comedy. Regrettably, I haven't seen Mortuary Academy, so I can't comment on the essence of his performance, but it seems to me that it isn't that hard to play a werewolf on the radio.

Back to 976-EVIL for a moment, Steven Geoffreys had this nerd thing down to a T, providing pretty much the same vibes for Fright Night and Fraternity Vacation. He is now a star in hard-core gay porn.

Note that former Oscar winner Sandy Dennis is in this film, providing a rather grim epilogue to her once flourishing career. Between 1966 and 1970 her career was as hot as a pistol, but the ensuing years were unkind.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: between one and one and a half stars, mostly from genre sites. Arrow in the Head 2/4, Arkansas Democrat 1/5, efilmcritic.com 1/5, SF Database 2/5.

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: weak performer. It grossed $3 million in the USA


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D. Only for former geeks who want revenge, and genre completists.

Return to the Movie House home page