dir. Eric Weston
Pity poor Clint Howard. While his older brother Ron was able to become a child star, the unfortunate looking Clint had to settle for a stint as a Star Trek villain and act alongside a bear during his formative years. Whereas Ron Howard became known as the guy who participated in some really great TV but then went on to direct blandly crowd-pleasing, Oscar-bait films; Clint became doomed to be known as that weird looking guy who always plays the crazy person in horror movies. Given the choice, though, I’d have to side with Clint. He has long been my favorite Howard. Sure, most of the shows (The Andy Griffith Show, Arrested Development) Ron participated in are unequivocal masterpieces, but has Opie Cunningham ever flown around and chopped people’s heads off while being possessed by Bull from Night Court? I thought not.
In director Eric Weston's film Evilspeak, Clint plays the ultimate victim. Boarding at a military school, he is perpetually harassed by not only his fellow classmates, but also the instructors, chaplain, soccer coach, secretaries, and, hell, pretty much anyone who happens to be aware of his existence. He was born with a kick-me sign strapped above his dick. And just how bad are his bullies? When not making fun of Clint for having dead parents, they like to spend their time sabotaging Clint‘s school projects, giving him evil looks, and, oh yeah [SPOILER ALERT:] killing his puppy [END SPOILER ALERT. To be honest, though, it‘s pretty obvious the instant the puppy is introduced what its fate will be.] These are, perhaps, the most unapologetically ruthless bullies ever to grace an eighties film (and that‘s saying a lot).
Luckily, Clint has an ace up his sleeve—the Prince of motherfucking Darkness. After discovering an ancient Satanic tome in the basement he‘s been punished to clean—the janitor has more important drinking and sleeping engagements—Clint gets an idea. He brings his Apple computer to the dungeon, plugs it in and uses it to summon the spirit of, Esteban, an old Satanic priest. [I knew Steve Jobs was evil.] What follows is the awesomatastical revenge and bloodshed we’ve been waiting the whole film for.
Evilspeak is an odd duck. Although we can’t wait to watch them get their comeuppances, the bullies are so over-the-top evil that they are downright laughable. But as bad as the bullies are, their puppy slaughter seemed out of place. They go from drunkenly trashing Clint‘s dungeon lair to mindlessly chanting “kill“, without missing a beat.
As is to be expected, the film is also riddled with the occasional plot-hole. Events occur less from proper character and logical motivations than a necessity to advance the plot. Even before Clint has gathered all the necessary ingredients to summon the dark one, for instance, Esteban’s spirit show up to kill that pesky janitor who had been getting a little too nosey.
Although campy and illogical at times, Evilspeak is constantly grounded by Clint’s superior performance. He appears to be acting in a different film. Indeed, his performance is so heartfelt and believable that one wonders whether Clint was informed that he was appearing in a trashy gore-fest. It is easy to shit on Mr. Howard because his films are so often less than respectable, but the man brings it to every role. Evilspeak rocked my fucking world.