Ewwwwww! The movie reeks of stale cigarettes and Axe body spray!
976-Evil tells the story of two teenagers named Spike (Patrick O’Bryan) and Hoax (Stephen Geoffreys). You know what? Whether your parents decide to name you Spike or to name your Hoax, your life is pretty much fucked up from the minute either name is entered on your birth certificate. Anyway, Spike and Hoax are cousins. Spike is the dangerous bad boy who rides a motorcycle and wears a leather jacket. Hoax is the really nerdy kid who worships Spike and who lives with his ultra-religious mother (Sandy Dennis). Hoax can’t wait until the day he and Spike ride across the country on their motorcycles. Spike is just busy trying to get laid and looking forward to heading out on his own.
Anyway, Hoax eventually gets tired of being picked on all the time so he decides to call the phone number mentioned in the film’s title. Hoax discovers that he has a direct line to Hell and the voice on the other end has some definite ideas for what Hoax could do to even the score. For instance, Hoax could cause spiders to attack a Spike’s girlfriend. And, after that, Hoax could transform into a monster and attack the local bullies at their poker game.
“That’s a dead man’s hand!” Hoax announces, while literally holding up a dead man’s hand.
(That’s right! Turning evil means becoming a master of puns!)
Uh-oh! It looks like Hoax has been possessed by evil! Even worse, the phone bill is HUGE! Those calls to the Devil aren’t cheap, you know! Can Spike defeat his cousin or will evil rule the day?
Now, I will say this for 976-Evil: as annoying as Stephen Geoffreys is when he’s playing nerdy Hoax, he actually is a bit frightening as evil Hoax. For that matter, Patrick O’Bryan is probably does about as good a job as you can do while playing a character named Spike.
But otherwise, 976-Evil is nearly unwatchable. I mean that literally. The entire film appears to be covered by a layer of grime. Between the unappealing visuals, the poor dialogue, and the lack of appealing characters, there’s really not much in 976-Evil to hold our attention. It might help if we felt bad for Hoax but, even before he calls the phone number, he’s such a weirdo perv that you just kind of want him to go away. Hoax is basically the type of loser who thinks that an Axe body spray commercial is a documentary. You can imagine him desperately spraying himself before he goes to school every day and announcing, “I smell like Axe! I’m losing my virginity next period! And then me and Spike are going to ride our motor scooters to Toronto!”
Released in 1989, 976-Evil was also the directorial debut of Robert Englund. I kinda hate to be so negative about the film because Robert Englund is such a good actor and he always comes across as being such a nice guy. If you haven’t already, be sure to get a copy of Englund’s autobiography, Hollywood Monster. Englund tells a lot of good stories and is admirably positive about being a horror icon. But, though Robert Englund’s a great guy, 976-Evil just doesn’t work.