Evilspeak Blu-Ray Review
Blu-Ray Review- Evilspeak
Distributor: Scream Factory
Street Date: May 13th 2014
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, Color, 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Runtime: 92 Minutes
Eric Weston’s Evilspeak begins in the 1600’s with a group of Satanists being banished from their land. They wander the beaches, gathering followers as they travel. Their leader performs a ritual sacrifice, beheading a young woman who was drawn to their pack. Fast forward to 1981, and we meet poor, poor Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard). Stanley is an outcast at West Andover Military Academy, and the frequent punching bag of his fellow students. He’s the classic oddball that you can’t help but feel for, not only in his looks but his poor sports performance, awkward demeanor, and jumbled speech.
When the West Andover faculty punishes Stanley by putting him on clean up duty at the Academy’s chapel, he discovers the hidden crypt of Father Esteban, one of the 16th Century Satanists featured in the prologue. Among the creepy relics left behind is a book used in black mass rituals, which Stanley has no qualms about taking for his own. Utilizing his downtime and computer savvy, Stanley creates a program to translate the text from the ancient book.
Increasingly disillusioned with life at the Academy and the never ending bullying he experiences, Stanley warms up to the ancient writings and concocts a plan for revenge: synchronize his computer program with the evil entity to create a computerized black mass, and get rid of his tormentors for good.
What follows features some outstanding gore effects for the time, from satanic pigs ripping people to shreds (you heard that right), stigmata nails flying through skulls, and wickedly awful beheadings, there’s plenty of mayhem to both cringe and cheer for. Clint Howard’s performance is also worth mentioning, as he turns in a very genuine performance here. Evilspeak has just about everything a Horror fan would want out of a genre film, and I had a great time revisiting it in High Definition.
Scream Factory’s Blu-Ray release of Evilspeak has been licensed through Code Red, and features a transfer that has been “completely restored from a newly discovered 35mm inter-positive source.” While the film without a doubt looks better than it ever has before, complete with natural film grain and a nice color grading, it could have used a little bit of clean up work before release. There are plenty of scratches, pops, and even light damage throughout the entire runtime. It’s a delicate issue of course, especially when some transfers are overly manipulated to appear “brand new.” For some, those instances of scratches and debris might add up to some nostalgia factor. It’s the kind of experience that reminds you of watching a grindhouse film in a dirty second-rate cinema in the 80’s, and on that note, you may be forgiving. For others, despite featuring a great inter-positive source, it might be slightly distracting. I’m in the forgiving/nostalgia factor camp, especially because I’m just plain happy to have this rather niche Horror film available on Blu-Ray.
This DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track provided here won’t rumble the floors or wake the neighbors, but it gets the job done. Dialogue comes through very clear, and is well balanced between the creepy musical score and background effects. It can sound slightly “tinny” at times, but overall fans of the film will be pleased with the audio experience.
Scream Factory has included some truly awesome special features on this Blu-Ray edition, in fact it could have been labeled a Collector’s Edition frankly, featuring some truly great content for fans of the film. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
- Satan’s Pigs and Severed Heads: The Making of Evilspeak- Running nearly 28 minutes, this is another fantastic documentary from Scream Factory. We get to hear from most of the principal cast discussing every aspect of the film’s production. From how the cast members got their respective roles to discussing how genuinely nice Clint Howard was, and from the stunt sequences to the special gore effects, all of the bases are covered here. This is brand new interview footage filmed in High Definition, with footage from the film dispersed throughout, and it works really well. Richard Moll is especially hilarious, and has some fun stories to reminisce about. Definitely one of Scream Factory’s better documentaries!
- Effects Speak with Allan A. Apone- This segment runs nearly 15 minutes and features Allan A. Apone discussing his career creating gore effects for movies. It’s fascinating hearing Allan speak about making the practical effects cost efficient yet stylish, and improvising plenty of times on the set to get the right results. From learning about the practical effects involved in everything from beheadings to pigs eating people, this is great stuff!
- Cast Interviews- This section of the bonus features includes three separate interviews with Clint Howard, Don Stark, and Joseph Cortese. The interviews are really fun, detailing how each of these actors got involved with the production. The standout is absolutely hearing from Clint Howard. The quality isn’t quite as polished as the other featurettes on this Blu-Ray, as the film footage looks like it’s been taken from a VHS tape, and the interviews seem to be taken from a standard definition source.
- Theatrical Trailer- The original theatrical trailer runs about 2 minutes long and is quite fun. Definitely evokes that 80’s feel with its corny voice-over and reveal of roughly the entire plot. Definitely glad it was included in this package.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray release from Scream Factory features the outstanding original theatrical artwork for the film on the cover. On the reverse of the packaging you’ll find a plot synopsis along with the aforementioned special features listed. The interior of the case includes some nice disc art and foreign posters for the film on the reverse of the slip-sheet.
Evilspeak is a terrific Horror movie with a dedicated performance from Clint Howard, amazing practical gore effects, and an ever-captivating plotline that plays like a hybrid between Carrie, The Lords of Discipline, and The Exorcist. The Blu-Ray from Scream Factory features a transfer that will divide enthusiasts for the format. It’s impressive in it’s authenticity but features some light damage throughout. The audio track works just fine here, and Scream Factory has loaded this with worthwhile special features. The documentary alone is worth a purchase! Recommended.