What’s It About: A high school loser who never made it with a lady till the phone told him something he missed.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- Directed by Robert Englund! I guess he didn’t have enough pull to put together a decent cast?
- A pay phone exploded and killed a guy. But that’s just what they did back then.
- I’m anxiously awaiting Englund’s small weird cameo.
- Our protagonist shares a pneumatic tube with a Fonzi next door who has apparently constructed his own one-room drywall shack.
- It’s raining fish. Hallelujah it’s raining fish.
- I guess our protagonist is a little slow? Which is fine but just odd. Or he’s repressed by his religious mother. Same difference.
- The phone is tormenting a hooker! So she runs away from the phone, and ends up right in front of a phone store! What are the odds?
- Why isn’t this movie called Horrorscope? That’s what they keep calling the hotline.
- Spike is playing poker with the guys he beat up in the high school bathroom earlier.
- A movie theater is showing a continuous horror movie marathon. $1.99. Good deal. But I bet the seats are all sticky.
- I officially hate this. And I think we’re only a half hour in. Freddy Kreuger can suck a dick.
- Nothing all that demonic or satanic has happened.
- All of a sudden Hoax has made a pentagram with candles and summons spiders to take revenge on a girl he and Spike like and spiders he summons kill her and nothing makes sense and this movie is a complete fucking mess just like I should have expected.
- This pile of fish semen (milt, now you know) has completely lost my interest, so let’s discuss something else for a while. How about this, at what point during the day of a full moon do werewolves transform? A lot of times you can see the moon in the sky during daylight hours, so is that all it takes? Can a werewolf transform at 3 p.m.? In every werewolf movie the full moon is shown lighting up the night sky right before the transformation. Does it have to be like directly overhead? And almost always when the shot of the full moon is shown there are some clouds just rolling away from the moon. Does the full moon have the same effect on a cloudy night? If the full moon is totally obscured by cloud cover, does it have the same effect on a werewolf transformation? Maybe it’s the moon’s rays that trigger the transformation, and they have to be at peak shininess for a transformation to occur? Kind of like Superman getting power from the sun. Which I never fully understood, either. But I’m not a big comics reader, but from every Superman movie I’ve seen, the sun doesn’t seem to play a big part. Except when Nuclear Man is created, of course. What if Nuclear Man was a werewolf? When there’s no sunlight, he powers down, but if there’s a full moon and he transforms, would he have power then? He did fight Superman literally on the moon, would that give him both werewolf and sun powers? If an astronaut was a werewolf, would he be a werewolf full time on the moon? I think this may have been addressed in a comic book, like a Spider-Man villain. Let me look… ok, so I was thinking of John Jameson, who was Man-Wolf (super-creative moniker), but that seemed to do with a magical jewel and had nothing to do with him being an astronaut. Missed opportunity, if you asked me. That would make a cool movie, where the moon has been taken over entirely by werewolves, who are so powerful on the moon that they’re unaffected by the lack of atmosphere. They build a new society and also a doomsday weapon that they plan to destroy Earth with, and any attempt to send a team of soldiers to eliminate the werewolves is unsuccessful because obviously the werewolves can see them coming so they just shoot any spacecraft down. So Earth has to build their own doomsday weapon to destroy the moon, but obviously that will have a catastrophic impact on Earth in return. So it’s either get destroyed by the werewolves, or destroy the moon before the werewolves can destroy us, but then dooming our own planet. I’m loving this idea. Of course, I guess it doesn’t really have to be werewolves, could be just aliens or evil humans who go to the moon, but the werewolf idea is much better. But what do they eat on the moon? Werewolves are bloodthirsty carnivores, it’s not like they would be satisfied with growing crops. I guess they could bring human slaves with them to build their society and then eat, but that doesn’t seem sustainable in the long run. But there’s no evidence in werewolf lore that they need to eat people to survive, so maybe they could survive on plants and vegetables. I did cover some of this ground in my Neowolf review last year, but it bears repeating. Well, it’s still a good idea, just needs refinement. I’ll call it MOONDOOM. Anyway, where was I? Oh, shit, 976-EVIL…
- The religious mother is yelling at Hoax for driving up the phone bill even though he and Spike only called 976-EVIL like twice.
- Coincidentally there are 976 horror movies I’d rather be watching.
- “Raining fish?” “Some say it’s a warning from God.” I wish I’d gotten a warning from God not to watch this shit.
- Enthralling trellis climbing scene.
- Mr. Englund, do you know anything about the art of film production? “I’d like to think so!”
- We just tried calling 976-EVIL. It’s now a suicide prevention hotline for anyone who sat through this movie.
Scare Level: You may never want to use a pay phone or rotary phone again after seeing this movie!
Gore Level: Quite a bit, and like most crappy horror movies, the gore scenes are the only thing keeping your waning interest.
Nudity Level: A short scene with small boobs. Maybe there should have been 975 more pairs of breasts to salvage the movie.
Best Line: Possessed Hoax kills two high school goons and goes to the high school goons’ poker game holding their hearts and says, “Would it be possible to enter the game with a pair of hearts?” Then right after he rips off one of their hands and say, “Now that’s a dead man’s hand.” Not that great but I can’t resist a good pun, and Englund was clearly drawing from Freddy Kreuger there.
Best Scene: This isn’t really a scene, but during the movie I looked up Stephen Geoffrey’s IMDb page to see what he’d done besides this and Fright Night… and WOW, check out his body of work between 1993 and 2010. I did not see that coming.
Worst Scene: Now that’s a tough call, but probably the scenes during the climax that involve the reporter and the random woman from before who is now apparently the love of his life and his daring attempts to save her even though we care absolutely nothing about either of them. At least the pneumatic tube comes into play as a means of escape from the house.
Level of Hell: I was totally prepared for 976-EVIL to be one of the “good ones” this month due to an interesting premise and Robert Englund’s involvement, sort of like Wishmaster surprised me a couple years ago, but it’s more disappointing than a dozen studio rejection letters for MOONDOOM.
Overall: Which studio executive thought it was a good idea to let Robert Englund direct a movie with no prior experience? Was it just because he played a horror villain, so he must know what he’s doing? Brilliant idea. Did you ever see Kane Hodder, who played Jason Voorhees, ever direct a film? NO! Did Woody Allen, who played the monster in Annie Hall, ever direct a film? NO! So why did Robert Englund? Complicating matters further is the script was co-written by Brian Helgeland, who would go on to write acclaimed movies like L.A. Confidential and Mystic River (and Highway to Hell!). Although his first writing gig was A Nightmare on Elm St. 4: The Dream Master, so I guess it just took him a while to get warmed up. Anyway, 976-EVIL is about as enjoyable as listening to a busy signal for 90 minutes. It’s just a complete mess from start to finish. Its only redeeming qualities are a unique premise (although completely misused, honestly the whole phone line could have just been left out entirely), some good kills and gore, and Stephen Geoffreys, who played a really good creepy awkward high school kid. He should have been in more movies, instead of, you know, what happened (see above). I’d write more about 976-EVIL, but I don’t want to get hung up on it.
Score: 2.5 Pneumatic Tube Messaging Systems (out of 10)
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Someone thought this movie was so good that it deserved a sequel. As bad as you think this movie is, 976-Evil II is worse.
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I did consider doing a double feature but changed my mind after watching the first one.
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