Saturday, May 19, 2012

Monster Crap Inductee: 976-EVIL (1988)

Monster Crap Inductee: 976-EVIL
The Only Real Evil Here Is Charge Your Parents’ Phone Bill Up The Ass.


Well, it’s time to finally to do this. It’s finally time to induct a movie with Robert Englund. He is the real Freddy Krueger, but he has also done a lot of crap over the years like most of the horror actors these days. So after inducting a film with both Brad Dourif and Andrew Divoff, it was only appropriate that Robert Englund finally be a part of Monster Crap.

I Was Very Fortunate To Meet Him At Monster-Mania in Hunt Valley, Maryland on September 18, 2010

Well, technically……..because he isn’t acting in this film, he is the director. 976-EVIL was his directorial debut in fact and it is only one of two films he has ever directed (the other being the 2008 piece of crap known as Killer Pad). Now I have always stated that there are only two reasons a name actor ever gets to direct. One is it is something the actor has always wanted to do for years and they want it done right in their mind.

Kenneth Branagh Has Been Well Known For Doing This With His Adaptations Of Plays Written By William Shakespeare.

Other times it is because the producers are not as confident about this film nor can they get anyone else who has actually directed a film to do this so…………they get an actor (normally a person they already hired to do the film) to direct this so they can at least promote it in some way. Sometimes they get an actor who ends up being talented enough to do so and thus find a second calling.

Clint Eastwood & Ron Howard Are The Two Most Well Known To Have Succeeded In That Regard

But most of the time, their abilities as an actor or an actress does not lead well to them when they are in the directing chair and thus we get very horrible movies. And thus that is what we will be getting with Robert Englund in 976-EVIL.

Now to give Robert credit, he actually does what most actors turned directors don’t do in their first time and that is not to put themselves in their own movie. Unfortunately, that means I will rarely be able to talk about Robert Englund in a positive light. In fact, I will get all that niceness out right now.

As a character actor, Robert Englund is almost second to none because he is able to be that character and anytime someone else tries, they fail terribly. Mostly through no fault of their own and it’s just because Robert Englund was just that much better.

In Fact, The Most Obvious Example Of That Is Jackie Earle Haley As Freddy Krueger Because He Tried To Both Put His Own Spin On The Character And Tried To Take This Seriously. However, The Script, The Cast Around Him, And Most Importantly The Pathetic Makeup………Hamper Him Greatly And Jackie Earle Haley’s Freddy Was Terrible.

But now sadly, we have to get to this piece of crap…………and you will get to know that while this is the best of the two films Robert Englund has directed, that is not saying much at all.

We begin with…..

Alright………….Opening With The Title Screen That Is Always A Good Thing

Then we get a guy running away while there are phones running. He goes to an alley where a phone at the end starts ringing. He finally decides to pick it up, but the phone electrocutes him and this unknown guy dies via burning to death covered in fire.

We go to the Diablo Theater where in the projection room, a bunch of unruly individuals play poker.

We then see that one of these unsavory individuals is our main character Spike.

He is not having a good day in cards and after losing another hand, he has to come up with the money the next day or, he loses the slip to his Harley Davidson motorcycle. We then see that Spike lives with his aunt Lucy and his cousin Hoax because his parents died……somehow.

Now Aunt Lucy is a bit of a religious nut with a lot of cats and a parrot. She is very specific that she doesn’t want anyone eating on her couch and is very domineering of her son. So why in the blue hell she would call her son Hoax is anyone’s guess. Hoax is a bit of a nerd who idolizes his cousin Spike because Spike lives out his own life and doesn’t live trying to please his mother. Since Spike’s is separate from a lot of the house and is within far reach of Hoax’s room, Hoax has a one of those chutes they use at the bank so he can communicate with Spike.

While reading a magazine, an insert pops out of the magazine and it is an advertisement for one of those 976 numbers with it this time being how to figure out your Horror Scope. All you have to do is dial 976-EVIL or 976-3845.

Now for those of you who were not around in the late 80’s –early 90’s. These 976 numbers were premium-rate phone services that were popular at the time. However, more often than not, these were scams that defrauded the user and they ended up being charged up the ass on their phone bills. A lot of these were targeted towards kids because they wouldn’t know at the time that their parents would suffer with the phone bills. However, this stopped after the US imposed tougher regulations on these numbers which caused a lot of companies to go out of business before they could steal money.

Anyway, Spike calls this number and gets a voice that tells him that “Financial debts linger, but not for long. You have the urge to take risks, don’t be afraid. Your prize only lies a short distance away. Claim it.” Of course that tells Spike to break into his aunt’s house and try to steal some money from her hiding spot, which in this case…………

Is Hidden In Her Fishing Trophy

He gets caught by Lucy, who wants the money back………but Spike keeps it saying that it belongs to him anyway. Lucy says that he has no claim to that money till he is 21 years old. She wants the money back, but Spike says that why don’t she try and make him. She tries to still get the money back, but outside…………fish start falling from the sky and being the crazy religious lady that she is, she takes this as a sign from God that she is doing the right things.

Just Means To Me That Someone Might Wanna Check If There Is A Waterspout Nearby

Spike once again calls the Horror Scope and this time it says “When it rains, it pours. You’re not in debt anymore”. Spike then gets sent a message in the mouth of a fish from Hoax asking him how he did it.

The next day, Marty Palmer from Modern Miracle Magazine shows up asking Lucy how it rained fish. We then go to school where Hoax is being bullied by the ruffians that were playing cards with Spike.

We see that they are running a scheme where they intimidate kids into giving up their lunch money every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Spike comes in and after getting crapped on about the fish miracle, he gives the lead ruffian his money so he doesn’t have to confiscate the Harley. He also stops them from bullying Hoax by beating three of them up. I should note one of the thugs has a strange way of saying “Mother Fucker” so in the future, I will call him “Mother Fucker” Thug. Hoax wants to help Spike kick those guys’ asses, but Spike tells him to just go to class. Hoax says he talked about last night and he was just warning the ruffians to stop picking on him because they were blessed by the lord. Spike then tells Hoax that unless the lord is going to fight, he better just stay away from those guys.

Back at the house, Lucy is explaining her miracle to Marty. We then go back to the parking lor of the school where Spike is meeting up with his girlfriend Suzie.

He tells her that he will pick her up and they will go on a date. Hoax comes in with his crappy moped trying to emulate Spike some more. Hoax then talks to Suzie about how Spike promised to take him with him as he takes a trip cross-country on their bikes if his mother will let him. He then says that if Suzie has a friend, they would be more comfortable riding with a couple of babes. Spike just laughs and tells Suzie to just give him a babe and he will see her at seven. As Spike leaves for home, Hoax tries to follow and show off for Suzie, but he crashes a bit and she laughs.

Oh Hoax…………You And Your Wacky Antics

We then cut to some random woman who like the guy before her, is running away from the phones.

We get more insight as to why these people are running away as they apparently had deals with the voice on the other end, but they don’t want to keep them. She gets stopped at the window of a phone store as all of the phones on display start ringing.

The phones shatter the glass and the glass debris kills this random lady.

That night, Marty has dinner at a diner where he notices Spike going to a bike shop to get new parts for his Harley. Spike makes a phone call to the Horror Scope number and gets told “A real man has the nerves to take what he deserves”. Spike almost goes back in the shop and steal the gloves, but decides against it. He then gets a phone call from the Horror Scope again, repeating that line. Spike finally gets tired and hangs up. When it seems that Spike has no desire to do what the Horror Scope says anymore, he is called a third time and it just says “Look both ways before crossing the street”. Then through a contrived situation, Spike gets on the road and is almost run over by a car driven by no one. However, he is saved by Marty who was at the diner watching the whole thing.

When Spike says thanks and that he owes Marty one, Marty takes him to the diner and wants to talk to him about the “miracle”. Marty doesn’t get an answer and we move to the next scene which is of Spike picking up Suzie for their date.

Spike takes her back to his room and the two have sex. Unfortunately for her, they left the window open and Hoax sees the whole thing through his telescope, amused like any peeping tom would.

Hoax is kind of a dumbass because after the deed his done, he sends Spike a note through the chute, thanking him for the show. You know Hoax, peeping toms tend to try and NOT get caught. You just ruined that. Spike and Suzie decide to leave, but not before Suzie leaves her panties behind and Spike leaves the insert with the Horror Scope advertisement. Hoax being a perv, goes into Spike’s room, steals the panties and notices the Horror Scope insert. He takes both back to his room and dials 976-EVIL. The voice tells him “Your problem is nearly not bad as it seems. Just take in a late show and meet the girl of your dreams.”

Hoax decides to do that as Spike ditches Suzie at the Diablo Theater so he can play some poker n the projection room. Suzie is upset and wants Spike to come back to the theater, but Spike is having a good night and decides to stay. Suzie storms off and runs into Hoax.

Hoax takes her to a pizza joint and the two hit it off before the unsavory bullies come in and pick on Hoax. Now, normally Suzie would defend Hoax and Hoax might get lucky by the end of the night………but Spike’s cousin is a bit of an idiot because in he decided it would be a good idea to take Suzie’s panties with him and they are stuffed in his back pants pocket. This all gets exposed and Suzie tells Hoax that she thought he was different before storming off. The bullies of course throw Hoax in the dumpster and kick it a few times so he can feel it. This makes Hoax snap and now he is completely addicted to the Horror Scope line. He calls the line and the voice tells him “Don’t worry about others. They’ll damage your pride. They will soon regret it when she’s by your side. I am the truth, the others tell lies. Call me back later to capture your prize.”

Back at her home, Suzie is cooking herself a frozen dinner while Hoax is back at his house calling the hotline again.

The voice tells him “A small circle of salt and a star within, adding one insect will punish her sin. The juice of my weed will plant my seed, and make you one of my kin.” Hoax then formulates his plan to get revenge.

Oh This Will So Not End Well….

He does what the voice asks and puts his pet spider in the middle saying that the two of them are going to scare the shit out of her. You might be wondering how they are going to do that, well……I have to go back to the scene where the two were eating pizza. During this, Suzie was terrified when a daddy longlegs showed up and she seems to have a case of arachnophobia. Since Hoax did know that a daddy-longlegs is technically not a spider, he should know that this will not work because spiders are not insects AT ALL and the voice specifically said “INSECT”.

This goes over as you would expect. Spiders pop out of the pizza, terrifying Suzie. Hoax sees all of this and tries to stop what he has done by crushing his own pet spider, but in the end……..Suzie dies along with the spider. Never explained how she died, but she is dead.

Hoax goes to her house (he somehow knows where she lives…..just go with it) and sees that his actions has caused her death. Now this should go one of either two ways or both: 1) Hoax stops doing or 2) Spike finds out that Hoax somehow killed his girlfriend and kills Hoax for this. Watch as NEITHER OF THOSE TWO THINGS HAPPENS!!!!

Before we get to that, we have Hoax’s mother Lucy finally confront him on the running up of her phone bill. Hoax tries to blame this on Spike, but Lucy isn’t buying it because Spike has a different phone line and this came from her line. Also Lucy has been trying to call up a pledge for some religious line, but Hoax is hogging the phone. She tries to emasculate Hoax again about how she thinks he is doing Satan’s work and calling sex lines. She does blame Spike for bringing him into doing stuff like this and her solution is to take Hoax’s phone. You then have Hoax saying under his breath that his mother shouldn’t have done that.

The next day, Marty meets with high school guidance counselor Angela Martinez.

Of course we find out that Marty Palmer is actually not from Miracle Magazine and instead find out that he is a private investigator. He wants to speak to Leonard Johnson, who is revealed to be Spike. While that is happening, Hoax finally confesses to Spike that he accidentally killed Suzie and of course instead of killing him, Spike just roughs him up. This is supposed to make Spike the good guy and Hoax the bad guy because Hoax tells lies about Suzie and tries to goad Spike into hurting him more, for some reason. While both Spike and Hoax leave, Marty finds the 976-EVIL insert and decides to investigate.

He finds that the residence of this place is a run-down building.

This Seems Like A Place That Would Be A Seedy Club Or A Place Where Gangsters Go To Kill People In Private

He finds some of the services are….

A Gambling Line

A “Santa Claus” Line

And A Sex Line with a less than attractive woman. He then meets the manager of these 976 lines, Mark Dark.

Oh My God…..It’s Eddie Quist From The Howling.

Yep……..that’s Robert Picardo who played the serial killer werewolf who was trying to kill Dee Wallace Stone’s character throughout that entire movie.

I bet this guy ends up being a bad guy, he just has to. Even his name just says BAD GUY.

Anyway, Max Dark here reveals that the Horror Scope was something that never worked out and it’s been locked in a disheveled room.

With Cobwebs And Everything

He even reveals that the voice is a tape recording and this was an experiment that if it had worked, would have allowed him to lay some people off and replace them with tape recordings. He guesses that no one is interested in the underworld anymore, just science fiction, sports, and phone sex.

Back at class, Hoax starts getting nauseous while dissecting a frog and has to go to the bathroom. I have done stuff like that on frogs, locusts, worms, even pig fetuses and despite what most people thing, it’s mostly not the look of the organs that can get people sick, its more the smell because to keep the stuff from decomposing, it’s put in formaldehyde and let me tell you, that stuff is rancid. Add to that the dead animal and you have yourself something that can cause anyone to get sick. I actually think I have gotten sick once with the formaldehyde, but most of the time……..I have been able to handle it. Sorry, sometimes I like to explain things from my past to explain the situation……….let’s get back to the movie.

In the bathroom, Hoax starts seeing himself slowly transform with some extra hair growing. . Some of the bullies start coming in and start hassling him. While this is going on, one of Hoax’s hands starts turning into a claw.

He scratches one of the bullies in the face and scares the other one away. He then tells the one who he scratched to pass the word around that Hoax isn’t to be messed with anymore. At home, Spike sees that Hoax’s spider is gone and knows that he wasn’t lying about what he did. He goes back to his place and the Horror Scope voice calls him asking “What did you think you’d find, Spike?” The voice then laughs and hangs up as we see the Hoax is in his own room and has closed the blinds.

Marty and Angela have dinner together and Marty explains the strange stuff that has been happening involving the two cousins.

By The Way, Through The Rest Of This Movie, Angela Lets Down Her Hair

We go to the house and see that Lucy is feeding her cats and saying grace. Hoax comes in and takes back his phone and his mom is not pleased by this. She tries to threaten and bully around her son, but Hoax has had enough and threatens her that if she values her life, she will leave him alone. That night, Hoax calls the line and the voice asks, “Do you want the power now?” Hoax responds with a definite “yes” and he is transformed.

Marty has broken into the building and hears all of this go down, but before he leaves, the number calls him and says, “You’re too late, Palmer.” The phone gives him a little shock, asks “Hey, can I call you Marty?” This confirms to Marty that the 976-EVIL line has become possessed. While Lucy is watching her religious shows, her son Hoax leaves in a hurry. Back at the building, Marty is met by Angela and he tells her that Hoax how now become evil. Of course since Hoax is one of her best students, this is not easy to take.

At the projection room, the thugs sans Spike play Poker and Hoax comes in.

The head guy tells the two who Hoax attacked earlier to take him out back and rough him up. The two take him away and while this is going on, the main thug has this girl striptease for him and “Mother Fucker” Thug. We see Spike go to a church and see that Hoax isn’t there. Hoax comes back in without the two thugs who took him away and wants to play with a pair of hearts.

The group screams as Hoax then attacks the leader. He sets the projection room on fire The main thug tries to grabs a knife, but Hoax steps on his arm as we see his foot transform as well.

Hoax then grabs the knife and cuts the main thug’s hand off.

While Saying “Now That’s Dead Man’s Hand”

On the roof, “Mother Fucker” Thug and the girl are on the roof terrified over what happened. While wondering where Hoax is, Hoax comes up right behind them and throws “Mother Fucker” Thug onto the pitchfork of the Diablo Theater, impaling and electrocuting him to death.

We see that the thug leader has decided to hide in the bathroom while wrapping his arm with toilet paper. Hoax comes in and uses the old kicking down stall doors to eventually find the Thug Leader and kill him, flushing his remains down the toilet. Although the toilet you do see flushing with blood, is from another stall…… maybe he was flushing the girl down the toilet, this movie never says.

Hoax goes home and lies on the couch with blood all over him and his mother Lucy tries to intimidate him by saying that she owes him one for back talking her. She tells him to get off of that couch and look at her, when she is speaking to him. He does, she screams, and he kills her.

The parrot that has been in this whole movie keeps saying “Not on the couch.” Hoax doesn’t like this saying “That’s what the plastic is for, asshole” before grabbing the bird from his cage and killing it.

The blue glow comes out of the house as Marty and Angela arrive. Marty tries to climb to one of the windows, but Hoax pops out at the window, causing Marty to fall down and knock himself out. Angela gets worried and goes inside. Now if you are wondering why her character has been brought into all of this, it is because since Suzie died……….someone had to be the damsel in distress as she is confronted by Hoax, who tries to molest her.

Oh No…………I Wasn’t Kidding You That Her Only Purpose In This Film Was To Be The Damsel In Distress

By the way, the whole house has turned into a winter wonderland……..which I guess means “Hell has Frozen Over”. Spike comes in to save the day and a fight between the two cousins begins as several times Marty and Angela are nearly killed by falling into a pit.

Is It A Pit Of Danger???

Well, it’s a pit to hell so technically it’s a pit of danger.

Anyway, through most of this fight……..Spike actually gets his ass kicked. In Hoax’s room, Spike tries to reason with Hoax by reminding him of the bike trip they were planning. It seems like it is about to work, but the demonic entity says that “Hoax is no longer here”, Spike knows he only has one choice and he throws Hoax down the pit to hell.

The pit to hell closes up and everyone is safe.

But that’s not the end. We then get a scene of Mark Dark at his chair with the Horror Scope Machine and putting Hoax’s picture in his scrapbook, cluing us in that he is in league with Satan.

And that ends this movie.

Now let’s talk about some of the people in this movie. Robert England has gotten a second film to direct 20 years later (in an even worse film, Killer Pad). Lezlie Deane (who played Suzie) would work with Robert England again, but this time they are both actors in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.

Gonna Have To Induct That Someday

Paul Wilson (who played the science teacher Mr. Michaels) would be one of the two consultants in the cult comedy hit Office Space. J.J. Cohen (who played the Thug leader) was in all three Back To The Future movies as an associate of Biff in the first two and a member of Needles gang in the third. He also was a roadie named Scully in Almost Famous. Robert Picardo (who played Mark Dark) would go on to be able to go to Star Trek conventions after his role as The Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager. He also was Richard Woosley in Stargate SG1 & Stargate Atlantis. Unfortunately for every good aftermath, there is always something bad aftermath as Sandy Dennis (who played Lucy) died four years later of ovarian cancer at the age of 54.

This movie made not much money in the theaters. I know that the DVD I used to induct this film is the theatrical version and there are 13 minutes missing from the VHS uncut version. But I have seen the footage and I have not missed much.

My personal opinion on this movie is eh…..not good, but not mind numbingly terrible. I really was annoyed by the Aunt Lucy character. The Marty character was your stereotypical detective character trying to piece together everything. The Angela character seems like it was written in after Suzie died and they were like “Holy Crap, we need a damsel in distress character.” The Spike character seemed like the generic “brooding anti-hero_ character. The only two characters I actually enjoy were Hoax (the actor plays this role very well) and the demonic voice on the phone. But what really makes this movie at least watchable are the makeup effects which were done by KNB EFX, which while not ground-breaking, are very good.

So we go from absolute hatred of a film (The Thing prequel) to a film I actually like (Graveyard Shift) to a movie that is somewhat watchable in 976-EVIL. So let’s go to the Randomizer to find out what our next movie is.

Well, School Will Be Out For The Summer In June


  1. the best part of 976-Evil is the part where Angela is barefoot! I love barefoot girls in horror movies!

  2. Best part was when he got the power and got revenge. VERY hot