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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

976-Evil (1988)


Starring: Stephen Geoffreys, Jim Metzler, Maria Rubell, Pat O'Bryan and Sandy Dennis
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £22.99


Certificate: 18
Release Date: 19 October 2020

Hoax is a socially inept and nerdy high school kid who is kept younger than his age by his religious and overly oppressive mother. His hero is his cool and good-looking cousin Spike, who has a leather jacket, a Harley Davison motorcycle, and who gets the girls. Constantly beaten-up, terrorised and belittled, Hoax longs for his life to change. After spying on Spike with a girl, Hoax discovers a card for phoneline ‘horrorscope’ readings. 976-Evil gives him pointers on how to get on in life, but he gives no consideration as to from where the advice originates. A demonic force gradually begins to take over his life. But will he reject or embrace it...?

This is one of only two movies directed by Freddy Krueger himself: Robert Englund. The first thing that’s apparent is its deep-rooted connection to the 1980s. The hair, the clothes and the attitudes essentially mean it doesn’t stand the test of time too much. Nevertheless, putting that to one side, it is a film worth checking out. Stephen Geoffreys was very young when he played Hoax. By all accounts, he was quiet and pretty much kept himself to himself. It’s not surprising that he’s a breath of fresh air when you consider he worked on the superior Fright Night (1985) – playing the lead character’s best friend, the hilarious Evil Ed. And, like Fright Night, this film is billed as a horror comedy, when it so clearly isn’t. The effects very much aid this project, being subtle or full-on as required. They were competently created by Kevin Yagher, who had worked with Robert Englund on A Nightmare on Elm Street, and was juggling with the first ‘Chucky’ Child’s Play while working on this one, too. The make-up effects by Howard Berger (The Walking Dead) – at Englund’s behest – were subtly increased on the protagonist, displaying his gradual possession by the demonic presence.

There is the added sub-plot of Marty investigating the strange goings-on to the point of tracing the call centre for 976-Evil, only to discover it is no longer operated and somehow automated. Although Spike is the cool guy, he is essentially ‘good’ – and although he is told to take what is his, he resists by putting back the leather gloves he has lifted. It is this action which makes the demon change its attention to Hoax. Thus, it attempts to kill Spike with a wayward car, and it is Marty who saves his life. Marty brings another character to the house at the climax of the film, only to nearly get her killed. The partly superfluous character of Marty uncovers some unanswered questions relating to the origin of the demon through the phone line. If you are offered an origin it’s only natural to want a whole explanation. Better, therefore, if that side of things remained a mystery. There was a 1992 sequel to this film. However, it was a minor slasher pic with no attempt to tackle the aforementioned unanswered questions.

This Eureka Video Classics release is the film’s first appearance on Blu-ray in the UK. I would say that the picture is clear, but lacks the crisp quality of some similar 2K or 4K releases (this is a 1080p presentation). Extras include an Audio Commentary by director Robert Englund and set decorate Nancy Booth Englund; there is an Extended Home Video Version of the film (from its first release in that format); a New Interview with producer Lisa M. Hansen; a New Interview with special make-up effects artist Howard Berger; and an entertaining New Interview with special effects technician Kevin Yagher. There is a Limited Edition First Print Run of 2000 copies, which contains a Slipcase and a Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Craig Ian Mann. I received a download of the booklet and found it fairly comprehensive, with plenty of colour photos.


Ty Power

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