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Theatrical poster
Directed by Eric Weston
Produced by Eric Weston
Sylvio Tabet
Gerald Hopman
Written by Eric Weston
Joseph Garofalo
Starring Clint Howard
R. G. Armstrong
Joseph Cortese
Claude Earl Jones
Music by Roger Kellaway
Cinematography Irv Goodnoff
Edited by Charles Tetoni
Leisure Investment Company
Coronet Film
Distributed by Moreno Films, Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
August 22, 1981 (Japan)
February 26, 1982 (USA)
Running time
89 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,000,000

Evilspeak is a 1981 American horror film directed by Eric Weston and co-written by Weston and Joseph Garofalo. The film stars Clint Howard as a outcast cadet named Stanley Coopersmith, who frequently gets tormented by his mates and advisers at a military academy. Upon finding a book of black mass that belonged to the evil medieval Father Esteban, he taps through a computer to conjure Satan and summons spells and demons to get revenge upon his harassers.

The movie was one of the infamous "video nasties" banned in the United Kingdom in the 1980s.


Years ago during the Dark Ages, Satanic leader Father Estaban (Richard Moll) and his followers are approached by a church official on the shore of Spain, telling them that they are banished from Spain and denied God's grace unless they renounce Satan and their evil ways.

In the present, Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard) is young cadet at an American military academy. He remains as a social outcast who is bullied by his classmates due to him being an orphan, and treated unfairly by his instructors who believe him to be inept at everything. When he is punished for no clear reason by cleaning the church cellar, he finds a room belonging to Father Estaban which contains books of black magic along with Father Estaban's diary. He then uses his computer skills to translate the book from Latin into English, in which the translation describes Estaban as a Satanist and the book contains rituals for performing the Black Mass along with a promise by Estaban citing "I Will Return".

Waking up the late the next morning, Coopersmith finds his alarm clock unplugged and his clothing tied in knots courtesy of his belligerent classmates. This causes him to be tardy for morning classes, and his teacher writes him a punishment note to be taken to the school's Colonel headmaster in his office. When he's sent to the office, Coopersmith accidentally leaves the diary on the desk of the school secretary who hides it. While Coopersmith is being made to clean the stables as punishment for no reason, the office secretary begins to finger the jewels on the front of the diary. Trying to pry the jewels out of their settings causes the pigs in the stable to attack Coopersmith.

Coopersmith returns to his dormitory room to find his belongings scattered by his classmates again, and cannot find his book of black magic, assuming that his classmates stole it. He confronts them about the supposed theft at a local roller rink, but they deny knowledge of the book and he leaves. He then goes to the school's computer lab to perform more general research on Satanism even though his book is still missing. His allotted time in the lab runs out, and he is forced to leave with his research incomplete.

Next Coopersmith appears in the church cellar with computer equipment which is assumed to be stolen from the school's computer lab as the act itself is never shown. He sets up the computer and runs some inquiries into the requirements for a black mass. Searching through various bottles in the cellar left by Father Estaban, he attempts to initiate a mass but the computer informs him that he is still missing crucial ingredients, namely blood and a consecrated host. At this point, he is nearly discovered by Reverend Jameson, the church's current pastor, who sends him off to the mess hall to eat dinner. After arriving at the mess hall too late for lunch, he befriends the school's good-natured cook who makes a meal for him and shows him a litter of puppies that his dog just had. Coopersmith takes the smallest pup for himself, names him Fred and hides him in the church cellar.

Coopersmith steals the host from the church, and then notices Estaban's portrait on the wall. Using the translation he attempts the ritual and is suddenly attacked by his classmates wearing masks and robes. After knocking him unconscious they leave. Coopersmith, thinking he has successfully performed the ritual is told by his computer that the ritual was incomplete and a pentagram appears on the computer screen. Coopersmith accidentally wakes the drunken caretaker (R.G. Armstrong), who accuses him of being a thief for stealing a crowbar. The caretaker attacks Coopersmith, who screams for help, and the computer flares to life with a red pentagram on it. An unseen force then takes the caretaker's head and turns it completely around breaking his neck. Coopersmith then discovers a catacomb filled with decapitated skeletal remains and the crypt of Father Estaban. After hiding the caretaker's body, he leaves.

Next, the school's secretary is shown at home where she attempts one last time to pry the pentagram from the black magic book she stole from Coopersmith. She fails, injuring her finger which bleeds. She undresses, begins to take a shower and is fatally attacked by demonically spawned boars. After watching a beauty pageant at the school's pep rally, Coopersmith is attacked by his classmates who tell him that if tries to play in the big game tomorrow they'll find and kill Fred. After witnessing his beating at the hands of his classmates, the hostile and unfriendly school principal kicks Coopersmith off the soccer team.

After a night of drinking, Coopersmith's classmates make their way into Estaban's hidden room and find Coopersmith's computer program. After killing Fred, the computer says that the blood used must be human blood. After finding Fred's mutilated body, Coopersmith becomes completely enraged. The diary then appears laying on Estaban's casket. When a teacher catches Coopersmith in the church stealing the host, he follows him to the catacombs where Coopersmith is translating the rest of the diary. Coopersmith pledges his life to Satan then kills his teacher on a spiked wheel and collects his blood.

Unaware of the ritual being performed below, Coopersmith's classmates, the coach, principal, and minister are all in attendance at a service above. After successfully performing the ritual, Father Estaban's soul then possesses Coopersmith's body and takes up a sword. Meanwhile, a nail from the large crucifix hanging over the church's altar is pried out by an unseen force and flies across the room and is driven into the minister's skull. Coopersmith then rises from the cellar below engulfed in flames and wielding a sword. A pack of large black boars pours out of the hole in the floor where Coopersmith now hovers above everyone else. He then decapitates his principal and his coach. His classmates try to flee from the church only to be devoured by the boars. In the catacombs, the lead bully tries to escape only to have the caretaker come back to life and remove the boy's heart while it is still beating. The church burns to the ground.

The caption at the end says that Stanley Coopersmith survived the attack, but after witnessing the fiery death of his classmates, he went catatonic from shock and was sentenced to Sunnydale Asylum where he remains. The end of the film shows Coopersmith's true fate as his face appears on the computer screen in the cellar with the words "I Will Return".



The film was shot in three weeks, using locations in Santa Barbara and a condemned church in South Central Los Angeles.[1] According to DVD commentary, the dilapidated church was superficially renovated for the movie shoot, confusing a priest who previously worked there and causing him to get on his knees and pray to God. The church was burned to the ground some three days later.

Release and controversy[edit]

Evilspeak was released on August 22, 1981 in Japan, and February 26, 1982 in the United States.

The movie was cited as a video nasty in the UK following its release on the Videospace label. It remained banned for a number of years as part of the Video Recordings Act 1984, thanks to its gory climax and themes of Satanism.

The film was reclassified and re-released in 1987 but with over three minutes of cuts, which included the removal of most of the gore from the climax and all text images of the Black Mass on the computer screen. It was then subsequently passed uncut by the BBFC in 2004 and is now available in both an uncut form and a version re-edited by the distributors to tighten up the dialogue.[2]

Anton LaVey, the late founder and High Priest of the Church of Satan, was a great fan of the film and considered it to be very Satanic.[3]

Actor Clint Howard said that director Eric Weston's original version of the film that was submitted to the MPAA was longer and contained more blood, gore and nudity than the unrated version of the film, especially during the shower/pig attack scene and the final confrontation.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

AllMovie called it "essentially a gender-bent rip-off of Carrie", though "there is enough in the way of spooky atmosphere and well-staged shocks to keep less discriminating horror fans interested."[4] PopMatters gave the film a 7/10 grade, despite writing "What started as a standard wish fulfillment/revenge scheme mixed with Satanism flounders with a lack of focus."[5] DVD Verdict wrote "Evilspeak is a crazy movie. Like, crazy. In a good way. Unfortunately, it's also kind of boring at times, taking well over an hour to get where it's going. [...] Despite the slower spots—and there are plenty of slower spots—Evilspeak remains an enjoyably overlooked horror film just for its eccentricities."[6]

A slightly more favourable review came from TV Guide, who wrote "The directorial debut of Eric Weston, Evilspeak is remarkably engaging, imaginative and well-crafted. It contains a strong performance from Howard, plus a deliciously over-the-top nasty turn by veteran character actor R.G. Armstrong."[7]


  1. ^ "Evilspeak – 1981 – 92 Minutes". Shadow's B-Movie Graveyard. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "BBFC Cuts E". The Melon Farmer's Video Hits. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Barton, Blanche (1 September 1992). The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorised Biography of Anton LaVey. Feral House. 
  4. ^ Binion, Cavett. "Evilspeak (1982) – Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast – AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Gibron, Bill (October 8, 2008). "Evilspeak (1981) | PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved December 9, 2014. 
  6. ^ Bromley, Patrick (May 22, 2014). "DVD Verdict Review – Evilspeak (1981) (Blu-Ray)". DVD Verdict. Retrieved December 9, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Evilspeak Review". TV Guide. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 

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