976-EVILNew Line Cinema
1988
R

“Once you’ve been to hell, everything else pales in comparison!”

Ah, the 1980s. Such was the era of some of the finest in cheesy horror goodness. Truly my favorite era for mindless scary movie watching, for it gave us such B-grade schlock as this directorial debut from Robert “I’m Freddy! Booga booga booga!” Englund himself: 976-EVIL.

For those of you not old enough to remember (or care), the 976 prefix was a premium-rate telephone number system that predated the 900 area code in the ’80s. For a few dollars a minute, you could dial up a number and listen to whatever message they featured, for whatever demographic was being targeted. Yeah, a lot of it was porn. So, if you were ever wondering what your parents did as teenagers before the advent of the internet, there you go.

Anyhow, as you may have surmised with your rudimentary deductive skills by now, 976-EVIL involves a 976 number designed by the Devil himself to possess the poor souls who call in. On the surface, the number just offers up cheesy creepy-themed fortunes. But the number really is a tool of SATAN! who uses the nefarious novelty line to corrupt the innocent souls who call to do his dark bidding. Because he got tired of fiddle showdowns, apparently.

And thus, our story centers in on two cousins – Spike and Hoax. Insert snicker here. Spike is the neighborhood bad boy, all motorcycle grease and mouse and rock n’ roll, the polar opposite of his younger cousin Hoax, the introverted nerd who is usually the target of Spike’s buddies. Although the two have a definite Fonzy / Richie Cunningham relationship going on, Hoax’sover-the-top ultra-religious mother doesn’t help things in the self esteem department. So, when the little nerdlinger stumbles upon the 976-EVIL advertisement and gives Satan a call, wackiness ensues. The kind of wackiness that involves death, destruction, possession, and a gateway to Hell opening up in Hoax’s front yard. And yeah, it’s up to Spike to mop up the mess.

Oh, man, you talk about your B-grade cheeseball horror fun. Extremely dated 80s fashion, cheep effects and unintentionally hilarious dialog, mixed up with over-the-top performances doing what they could with the premise and you’ve got a movie that’s fun-level bad, in a good way. Check this thing out with a bunch of friends some night and have some fun.