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Evilspeak (1981) - dir. Eric Weston [on CoS Video List]

Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard) is an orphaned, stereotypical nerd taken in by the West Andover Military Academy as part of a welfare program. As a teenager, he is an outcast that endures the daily ridicule, vileness, and bullying of his jock peers and the unashamedly condescending attitudes of his equally vile teachers and school faculty, who seem to view him as nothing but a disappointment and a burden. While on infinite punishment detail, the young protagonist stumbles upon a centuries-old library hidden in the chapel’s cellar, which he is responsible for cleaning out. With awe and wide-eyed wonder, he discovers a hidden library of dust-ridden books on demonology. But, his greatest discovery is a book ornamented with a pentagram on its leather cover that once belonged to a 16th century Satanist named Esteban (Richard Moll) who was exiled from Spain by the Inquisition. Using the school’s computer, Coopersmith translates the text, which is written in Latin, and discovers that Esteban pledged himself to Satan and vowed to avenge himself, promising to return one day to achieve this goal.

Satanists may find some things of interest in this film, as the most obvious themes are that of justice and revenge. When the jocks destroy Coopersmith’s fully functional, miniaturized catapult -- with specifications that were worked out on the computer -- and his new book missing, he makes a vow of vengeance. Beneath the chapel, the uncouth and frustrated outcast decides to use his computer, and the writings found in Esteban’s book, to conjure Satan by performing a Black Mass so he may fulfill his dark desires. There is a good use of psychodrama as the enraged teen performs his ritual with passion and charges the ritual chamber with his hateful energy.

One of the things that I found interesting was Coopersmith’s employment of computer technology to achieve his goals. This, at a time when personal computers were not commonplace. I also found the use of computer technology and ritual magic pretty interesting as well. Evilspeak was the first film in which the use of computer graphics was written into its story line -- which, along with CGI, was something that hadn’t really been developed yet. Seeing a spinning pentagram in concentric circles on the computer screen was something “conjured up” in the imagination of the screenplay writer and the director. Now pentagrams on computer screens are a reality as more and more Satanists utilize this technology to achieve their own goals.

Each character was portrayed very well. The haunting music score, the make-up and effects, the gore, and the violence superbly maintain the dark ambience of the film. Satanists who are horror film aficionados will appreciate these qualities. And, the terrific ending. To me, the film itself is a manifestation of ECI, as it was made during a time when horror films were actually horrifying and far more superior than the white-washed garbage that people deem “horror” today. This is a fun horror film to watch, though it is based upon society’s misconceptions of what true Satanism is. But, to the true Satanist, certain elements will become quite obvious. Most notably, the Fifth and Ninth Satanic Statements from The Satanic Bible. The latter being exemplified in a quote by Kahlil Gibran shown at the opening of the film: “And Satan said to the Man of God… What would you do tomorrow if you allowed me to die today? What vocation would you pursue if my name is destroyed?”

[- Michael K. Silva]