Don't know Clint Howard!?! Ain't from 'round here, is ya? Every CineSchlocker worth salamander spit knows and IDOLIZES this toothy, balding bundle of twitches who's as ubiquitous as he is terrifically talented. There was a time when, thank heaven, it seemed nary a single B-movie could be made without at least 30 seconds of screentime for the guy. Those moments are always, always, always gold which is what ranks Clint among the great character actors of any generation. The yeoman's example of his daddy Rance had plenty to do with that. But let's get on to the cult classick Clint calls his "coming of age" picture, finally available in its uncut, gory glory with what genre fans have long salivated for -- a CLINT HOWARD commentary!!!
So what's poor Stanley Coopersmith (Howard) to do when his parents croak and he's shipped off to military school where the entire campus population -- except for Dewayne from "What's Happening!" -- not only hates his dorky guts, but insists on calling him CooperDICK! Does Stanley suck it up and endure the insufferable cruelties of high school? YES! Well, at first anyway, at least until he's rooting around the chapel basement and stumbles upon a secret SATANIC sepulcher full of the weird-beard personal effects of a 16th century cleric turned virgin-sacrificin' warlock played by an ever-snarling Richard Moll (Bull of TV's "Night Court.") Amongst the trove, Stanley lifts a dusty, petagram-adorned book whose title roughly translates to "Satanism for Dummies" and like any good geek begins pecking passages into the nearest computer until, with a bit of bloodletting, he ends up conjuring THE DEVIL!!! What better way to smite thine enemies, eh? And does he ever SMITE! More heads roll during the final reel than the entire Highlander franchise. Why? Well, you can do a lot of things to the kid, but don't even THINK about messing with Stan's good puppy dog.
CineSchlockers are well aware of the dueling taboos of exploitation cinema when it comes to the welfare of canines and children. It's almost the ultimate litmus test: "Are they really gonna go THAT far?" The Hills Have Eyes boasts the double whammy, though even that innard twister hedges in the end. Strange, isn't it? We'll abide all manner of onscreen slaughter, but doggone it, hands off Fido! Cats on the other hand ...
Four breasts. 13 corpses. Loogie hocking. Soccer sermonizing. Multiple decapitations. Gratuitous shower scenes (male AND female). Nose mining. Puppy in peril. Gratuitous "Miss Heavy Artillery" pageant. One pickled fetus. Gratuitous nightmare sequence. Multiple firesuit stunts. Satanic swine. Surfside banishment. Unsanctioned open-heart surgery technique. Boozing. Neck snapping. Pig slopping. Effigy burning. Public pantsing. Coopersmith engages in some canine-influenced introspection: "Maybe this puppy's better off not making it. You got to be able to kick and scratch if you want to survive. I found that out right after my parents died. From what I can tell, like these other pups, it's the ones that can do the most pushing and shoving that get the biggest piece of the pie." Colonel Kincaid's campus nickname? Corporal Punishment: "Take the position, boy!" But CineSchlocker fave R.G. Armstrong's surly Sarge growls the line of the flick: "C@#KSUCKKKKEEEERRRS!!!"
This reconstructed print showcases yet another reason genre fans appreciate the noble work being done up in Troy, Michigan: "Prior to its U.S. theatrical release, the distributors of Evilspeak were forced to cut much of its graphic violence to avoid an 'X' rating from the MPAA. Anchor Bay now presents this gorehound favorite fully restored from newly discovered vault sources -- including all of its long-rumored scenes of bloody carnage." Huzzah! CineSchlockers will further wet themselves over Mr. Howard's first commentary. Along with director Eric Weston and producer Warren Lewis, Clint reminisces about the film being his biggest grow'd up foray since his years bear-hugging "Gentle Ben," how he spent 22 HOURS strung up on wires and, like many fans, how he scours eBay for Evilspeak goodies. (A few of Clint's finds are even included in a generous image gallery as well as some piggish production shots from luscious Lynn Hancock's bath-time demise.) The track momentarily strays into James Lipton territory when Mr. Howard reveals that, even today, he uses the "sense memory" of Coopersmith's pooch to produce tears on command. And, yes, he works in some juicy nuggets about his big brother Ron, who got his directing start with B-king Roger Corman, and loves getting the inside skinny on Clint's low-budget adventures. Most of all, CineSchlockers will certainly share the trio's most pressing question -- whither the sequel!?! (1981, 92 mins, 1.77:1 anam, DD mono, Commentary, Image gallery, Trailer.)
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.