976-EVIL aka Dial 976 Evil
By a customer
from Canterbury UK
, 18 Nov 2004
Robert Englund became a cult figure as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and sequels. As an actor Englund lacks any real skill and in person appears a pseudo-intellectual airhead - a sort of Billy Idol of the horror genre. Nevertheless he parlayed his popularity with the Elm Street films into making his debut as a director with this effort. The result was immediately slammed by genre critics and Englund condemned for trying to rise above his level of competence.
The film is lumbered with a ridiculous concept - the idea of a demonic 976 number. When it comes down to it, is only really a variant on the standard Faustian pact story, but the film never really finds much of a way of making the idea work and most of it instead is spent in a series of rather choppy and not easily coherent scenes with Steven Geoffreys as a demon and the house transformed into a zone of Hell.
What must be said is that Englund does a halfway okay job. He captures the sense of aimless youths in a deadbeat town quite well. Here Patrick O?Bryan and Lezlie Deane give two reasonable performances - he providing a moody rebellious handsomeness (imagine a more heroic James Dean) and she allowing her punkette character an inviting warmth. Even a usually terrible over-actor like Steven (Fright Night) Geoffreys manages to play his wimp role believably. Although there are times when the balance of seriousness does topple over - Sandy Dennis?s over-the-top performance being one of them.
Reportedly some sections of the film were touched up by another uncredited director so it?s hard to know what is and isn?t Englund?s work. Expectedly the film is outfitted with Freddy Krueger-styled one-liners - Geoffreys comes into a poker game, ?Can I enter the game with two hearts ?? and throws two bleeding hearts onto the table and then chops off a player?s hand, ?Now that?s a real dead man?s hand.? The film is fairly low on actual scares, although there is one good scene with Dennis?s cats feeding on her dead body. But passable moments don?t really save the film from the essentially ridiculous concept it is lumbered with.
The sequel was 976-Evil II: The Astral Factor/976-Evil II: The Return (1991), whose only point of connection with this was actor Patrick O?Bryan. The sequel was directed by the notoriously bad Jim Wynorski and featured a Satanically-empowered high school principal killing people via astral projection. Englund has yet to direct any other films.
- Was this review helpful to you?
(8) Yes |