Directed by Freddy Kruger himself, Robert Englund and starring Stephen Geoffreys of Fright Night fame (You’re so cool, Brewster), 976-EVIL is a ‘love it or hate it’ late 80’s horror movie. You’ll either think it’s a hidden gem of the era or that it is utter trash.
Spike (Patrick O’Bryan) is the neighbourhood bad-boy, the kind who rides a bike while smoking and has a cool leather jacket. His cousin is Hoax (Stephen Geoffreys) who is the neighbourhood nerd, the kind who dreams of women all day and gets picked on by bullies.
They might be complete opposites but both suffer under Hoax’s religious mother Lucy (Sandy Dennis).
Spike’s popularity and general ‘coolness’ fills Hoax with resentment even though Spike is kind to him. He then discovers the 976-EVIL phone number that promises fortunes when you dial it, so does. He is promised everything he could ever want, something that comes across very hokey even to Hoax.
Unfortunately for the lad this is Satan’s hotline and you uses it to corrupt people to do his bidding. As Hoax’s dreams take a dark turn he discovers the truth behind the number but instead of turning his back on it, uses the power to get revenge on all who have wronged him.
The cost? Hoax’s soul. Unless Spike can find some way to save his cousin.
976-EVIL struggles simply because of how stupid the idea is. Satan? Possession? Gore? All perfect. A cheesy phone line as the basis? Not so much. The story is told in a haphazard way too. First focusing on Spike’s dealings with the phone line then switching to Hoax who takes over as the lead.
If that was the film’s only flaw it maybe could be overlooked…maybe. Unfortunately, it’s not. Basic characters that we’ve seen way too much, actors that range from over the top (Geoffreys and Dennis) to ones barely trying (O’Bryan), effects that don’t exactly wow…it’s such an 80’s movie that you want to love it but by the end you’ll be disappointed.
The final quarter of the movie is where it’s all at. Hoax embraces his evil side and the make-up on him looks pretty good. Some dreamy visuals and an action-packed finale lift things, but not enough to make up for the many issues.
If 976-EVIL comes calling, hang up.