Movie News & Reviews

976-EVIL's freakish pedigree doesn't make up for its flaws

The more of them I watch, the more I'm convinced all movies from1988-1992 need to be fired directly into the sun. There is a chance,however small, that some day an alien race will land on Earth andjudge our right to exist based on our contribution to the arts, and ifthey choose that time period to examine, we are completely andhelplessly screwed.

Some great movies came out of that timespan, but I'm afraid they'regoing to have to be sacrificed for the greater good. The vast majorityof them--even the ones that are made more entertaining by their flaws,like 1989's 976-EVIL--are too ugly, tacky, and sleazy to riskkeeping around.

Stephen Geoffreys wants to be cool and strong like his cousin PatrickO'Bryan, but instead he's a beat-up wimp who all the girls laugh at.His fortunes change, however, after he discovers a demonic phone linethat gives him terrible powers.

That's the condensed way of saying "lots and lots of time is spentwatching teenagers do what was once, to the horror of the modern eye,considered cool." Some of their activities, like gambling, smoking,and getting it on, are timeless. Others, like their obsession withobscene graffiti and styling their hair with such moronic fetishismit's a wonder they had time to feed themselves, are so specific totheir time and place the movie may as well have been "1989!!" flashedfor ninety straight minutes.

We're talking cheese with a capital cheddar. It's so cheesy you'llneed a machete and a burlap sack of tortilla chips just to wadethrough it.

But director Robert Englund (that's Freddy Krueger, son!) deliverssome pretty funny deaths. And Geoffreys' acting is kinda good, makingit extra confusing he'd moved on to porn two years later. (Hisfilmography reads like something straight out of Clerks.) Mostbizarrely of all, it was cowritten by Brian Helgeland, who won anOscar for the script to L.A. Confidential.

That is one freakish pedigree. 976-EVIL is like the Bad NewsBears of horror movies, a ragtag collection of talent that ends upmuch better than it has any right to be--not good, but a good time.

This one was suggested to me by a reader. I'm grateful for the helpinghand. So many movies get made a lot of them fall right off the socialradar, never to be heard from again. Without getting pointed in theright direction, I might have missed 976-EVIL's agelessmessage: bully a nerd, and you'll end up slashed to ribbons by a scalylizard-elf.

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