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Evilspeak (Blu-ray Review)

Evilspeak-ThumbIt’s finally upon us.  Scream Factory’s highly anticipated “Summer Of Fear”!  We begin this wave of greatness with one of two joint ventures with Code Red DVD.  We’re talking about the Clint Howard horror vehicle, Evilspeak which revolves around summoning satanists and demons via a computer.   Said computer features Vecotr graphics.  And as my friend Jim Dietz says “Vector Computer graphics will always be cool.  Always.”  And as always, Jim Dietz is right.  This film is a rather grand horror effects spectacular surrounded by a rather noticeable and strong set of supporting actors.  Scream Factory has ported over Code Red’s original supplemental material as well as added a bit of their own flare to go with Evilspeak’s Blu-ray review.

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Film 

Clint Howard is Stanley Coopersmith, an orphan in a military academy who is picked on by pretty much everyone attending or instructing.  As punishment, Stanley is forced to clean the church cellar.  There he finds an abandoned room that belonged to a Satanic leader from the Dark Ages named Father Esteban.  He finds his diary and begins using his diary to translate it.  Obsessed, Stanley begins learning rituals for the Black Mass and hopes to use it to exact revenge on his classmates who have wronged him.

Evilspeak is just sort of one of those weird movies that you kind of have to have a certain appreciation for.  A sort of acquired taste.  If you grew up in the 70s or 80s hooked on horror, you’ve seen stuff like this and either you “got” the appeal or you didn’t.  It has a lot of unexplainable happenings going on and just moments that are weird, but really do work for it.

One of the big attractions of the film is its effect work.  There is a lot of really groovy gore effects in the film.  As a matter of fact, the final act of the film feels like some sort of highlight reel of practical gore effects.  There’s a little bit of a slow build of them early on, but once the possession kicks into gear its no-holds barred unleashed.  And its not just graphic, its brutal too.  Even today I think some of these effects would get some people to cringe or act squeemish.

Clint Howard leads this pack of character actors.  And his rather strange persona does more than just fill the role.  He also pretty much has to carry a lot of this movie and does so pretty damn well.  He’s so real and builds a solid sympathetic character.  But here’s the remaining roster of actors in the film; Night Court‘s Richard Moll, Don Stark, RG Armstrong, Charles Tyner and Luca Brasi himself Lenny Montana.  That’s quite a casting list of male character actors.

I can see through a lot of Evilspeak‘s shortcomings and see the many more merits it provides in other areas.  It truly is a triumph in gore effects and manages to bring a weird discomfort to when watching some scenes.  The film also manages to truly disturb.  And yes, I’m pointing toward the scene that entails a woman who gets eaten alive by boars while in her bathtub.  If you’re willing, Evilspeak has plenty to offer for a satanic horror-revenge film.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1

Clarity/Detail:  This print is in pretty rough shape.  The image is kind of soft but does provide some good detail in many spots.  You can also spot the wires on a levitating Clint Howard during the finale, which comes from good high res clarity.  While I have to point out the faults of the video transfer, I need to say that I believe the best work that could have been done on this transfer was done.  Sure, you could throw a boatload of money into the restoration and make it look amazing.  But let’s be realistic here, nobody in their right mind is going to do that for Evilspeak.  This is the best its going to look, and its not too bad.

Depth:  The image is flat in many spots, but bright in some areas, for instance the depth on Clint Howard in the finale compared to the background is quite impressive.

Black Levels: Blacks are a bit fades and some crushing occurs.

Color Reproduction: Colors can be muted.  However, the red blood is nice a rich.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are solid for the most part, with faces appearing slightly smooth.  The consistency is pretty good, but off in a couple spots due to the nature of the condition the print is in.

Noise/Artifacts:  This transfer features a lot of rough spots, featuring some streaks, scratches and plenty of specs and dirt.  A lot of the early scenes at the beach are super grainy too.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The score is really loud on this track.  And its not that “for effect” jump scare type.  Its loudness makes a for a little bit of discomfort as its disproportionate to the sound effects and dialogue.  The sound effects do have some really good chops and knocks though during violent scenes.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is clean with a little bit of analog hissing present.  It does get drowned out by the score at times.

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Extras 

The inside of the cover art insert features alternate poster artwork.

Audio Commentary With Producer/Director Eric Weston – Code Red DVD head honcho Bill Olsen sits down with the film’s director in this commentary ported over from the DVD edition.  Bill keeps things going and interesting.  Not many dead spots here in this informative commentary.

Satan’s Pigs And Severed Heads: The Making Of Evilspeak (HD, 27:48) – Another wonderful retrospective doc from Scream Factory.  This one features people not involved in the interviews also on this disc, keeping it fresh and an asset to the previous released bonus material.

Effects Speak With Allan A. Apone (HD, 14:37) – The film’s special effects man enthusiastically goes over his work on the film and discusses how many of the memorable moments were conceived and executed.

Cast Interviews – These are interviews ported over from the previous DVD edition.

  • Clint Howard (SD, 11:39)
  • Don Stark (SD, 10:09)
  • Joe Cortese (SD, 6:55)

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:51)

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Summary 

Evilspeak comes to Blu-ray with a less than perfect presentation.  I don’t mind the look of the film, as I tend to enjoy transfers for B-movies that come off of a used and abused print.  But, those seeking absolute perfection are going to see this one as coming up short.  The audio is pretty problematic in terms of the score’s volume in the mix.  Supplemental material is more than grand and if there were any hesitations on buying this one, let me assure you this bonus material should be enough to get one off the fence if you’ve never owned Evilspeak before (if you do and you’re a fan, any time Scream Factory does one of their mini-docs on a movie know that said movie should be bumped up to “must own” status).  It’s definitely a collector’s item.  This is a solid start to the “Summer of Fear” and the excitement is just beginning as Scream Factory has a LOAD of treats in store for us this summer.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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