(Before I left on my vacation, I made it a point to watch several horror films that were available for free on Fearnet. In the case of many of the films, I suspect that I may have paid too much. Regardless, since it is October and horror month here at the Shattered Lens, I am going to share my thoughts on some of these Fearnet films.)
Before I review 976-Evil II, I need to make a quick confession The one time that I attempted to watch the first 976-Evil, I ended up falling asleep immediately after the opening credits. I don’t know much about the film beyond the fact that it was directed by Robert Englund and, even by the standards of the majority of the films that are available on Fearnet, it looked to be cheap and unimpressive.
That said, as I watched Part 2, it quickly became apparent that it’s not really necessary to have seen the first film to follow the plot of the second.
A small town in California has a problem. Mr. Grubeck (an enjoyably over-the-top performance from Rene Assa) is the dean of the local college (which, to be honest, looks a lot like a high school). Grubeck is a courtly, middle-aged man who lives in a nice house and just happens to be a demented serial killer. He’s been dialing a mysterious phone number and, with each call, he gains more and more supernatural powers.
At that start of the film, however, a drunk janitor (played by George “Buck” Flower, of course) sees Grubeck killing a student. The janitor goes to the police and Grubeck is promptly arrested and placed in jail. Unfortunately, the police allow Grubeck his one phone call and Grubeck, of course, dials 976-Evil. As a result, Grubeck is given the power to wander about in astral form while his physical body rests. Grubeck uses his powers to start killing anyone who can link him to the murders, as well as to stalk a student named Robin (Debbie James).
However, Robin has another stalker. Spike (Patrick O’Bryan), who was apparently the protaganist of the first film, comes rolling into town on his motorcycle and soon, he and Robin are searching for a way to defeat Grubeck once and for all.
(As a sidenote, I think that the minute a baby is named Spike, the rest of his or her life is pretty much predestined.)
976-Evil II is the type of film that almost always gets universally negative (and snide) reviews but, when taken on its own terms, it’s actually a fun little movie. This is the type of film where all of the actors speak their lines in the most dramatic way possible and authority figures react to bad news by defiantly slamming their hand on top of their desk. In short, this is a film that is not meant to be taken seriously and its obvious that director Jim Wynorski understood that. This is a film that winks at the audience even as it grows more and more implausible. While the film’s scares are more likely to make you smile than jump, there is one very effective sequence where Robin’s friend Paula (played by Leslie Ryan) finds herself literally sucked into the TV. At first, since she was watching It’s a Wonderful Life, everything’s okay. But then, somebody changes the channel to Night of the Living Dead. It’s this type of outrageous sequence that distinguishes 976-Evil II from other similar (but forgettable) horror films.
976-Evil II was released in 1992 and, wow, is it obvious. Everyone has big hair, wears too much spandex, and uses a landline phone. Even the villainous Mr. Grubeck wears a vest with a floral design. That said, the film was so dated as to be oddly charming.
That’s actually how I would sum up 976-Evil II as a whole.