Bad Movies Beware!
When I looked at the collection I got from the in-laws this year and saw that it had almost all sequels, my inner Sheldon Cooper went a little haywire. I’d never seen the originals to any of the movies except C.H.U.D. and Ghoulies.
Yeah, I didn’t miss anything.
976-EVIL 2 was just another fart in the wind, like most of the movies in the pack. I did some research because, frankly, I had no desire to try and hunt down the original. I found a synopsis with spoilers, read it, and prepped for the sequel knowing that I was in for a ride on the dumb side.
The hero from the first movie, Spike, shows up at a bar one night. The payphone rings, and he answers only to hear a familiar voice offer to tell him his “horrorscope.” He hangs up and is hit with a vision that shows him an upcoming murder.
Per the first film, people who dial the number and listen to their horrorscope get supernatural powers. But, the price is that they sell their soul to Satan.
Meanwhile Robin, a pretty college student, finds out that her professor, Dr. Grubeck, has been arrested for the killings that have been happening in town.
Spike rides into town, and I have to wonder: WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH HIS HAIR? I mean, really. I can’t take him seriously. I’m heard of helmet head, but DAMN.
Anyway, Robin and Spike meet, and it doesn’t take a whole lot to convince Robin that the 976-EVIL line has everything to do with the murders. They break into Grubeck’s office and find out that he’s been calling the number regularly.
Back at the prison, Grubeck goes to sleep and has an out-of-body experience. He leaves the jail and kills the prosecuting lawyer exactly the way that Robin had seen in a vision she’d had during an earlier scene.
Spike arrives on the scene, and he kisses Robin. Randomly. Like, never once did I see it coming. No, not that I wasn’t expecting it. The movie DOES have a formula to follow, after all. But, a little build-up would’ve been nice. It’s like, “Hey, there’s a guy on a motorcycle. I think I’ll play ‘Tongue-Sabers’ with him!”
The bodies begin to pile up, and Robin and Spike soon discover that Grubeck has been researching astral projection, the ability to leave one’s body and do things (like murder) in a physical-ish form.
I would say that the retardation level of this movie promptly takes a nose dive, but that’d be an exaggeration. The needle on the Retardo-Meter was buried the second the opening credits rolled.
It all comes to a head when Robin goes to a friend’s house to unwind and spend the night. Grubeck comes calling and kills Paula while Robin is in the kitchen making popcorn. This scene is actually one of the better ones. Paula gets sucked into the TV during It’s a Wonderful Life, and we get to hear the best line in the entire movie:
“Look, Daddy! Every time you hear a bell, a zombie takes us all to hell!”
Yeah, I can dig that one.
The fact that the line comes from a 3-year-old just makes it that much better. It’s a moment where you tilt your head to the side and say to yourself, “Did I hear that right?” When all of the party guests become zombies and attack Paula, it’s about as satisfying as sitting back with a snack and watching a political debate escalate on a friend’s Facebook wall.
Other than this scene, really, the rest of the movie just fires off the cheesy lines and randomness with all the grace of a flatulent gorilla. The final scene is predictable and happens by the numbers right up to the “twist” ending.
Once they figure out what Grubeck’s been up to, Robin and Spike formulate a plan of attack. Unfortunately, they get separated and Grubeck comes after Robin. Turns out the old bird is in love with his student.
Hey, who can blame him?
Okay, by 80’s and 90’s standards, she was cute. Cut me some slack. It’s past my bedtime, people.
(Takes another swig of Guinness.)
And the beer helps.
Anywho, Grubeck returns to his body, breaks out of prison, and turns his attention to Spike and kills him off. Spike, however, has been looking at Grubeck’s astral projection research and leaves his body to pursue Grubeck as the old creeper returns to his pursuit of the damsel in distress.
Grubeck corners Robin on a cliff…heh. Yeah. That’s convenient. They need a way to kill the bad guy, and there just so happens to be a cliff.
Spike shows up and scuffles with Grubeck, Robin gets involved, the timer on my hot tea goes off and distracts me, the cat jumps in my lap at the same time, and Grubeck goes a flyin’ off the edge of the cliff and into the rocks and water below.
Robin and Spike share a final moment and kiss before Spike disappears. The police show up, and Robin is arrested for Grubeck’s murder. As they leave, the phone in a nearby phone booth (that just appeared out of nowhere because phone booths do that) rings.
VERDICT: HANG UP THE DAMNED PHONE.
What’s sad is that 976-EVIL 2 is the best movie in the pack that I’ve seen so far. The acting isn’t terrible, and the production quality is there, albeit limited because of the time it was filmed (1991). I’m to understand that it’s miles better than the original, so it’s got that going for it.
Now if we could just do something about Spike’s hair.
Another thing that got me was that the ringing phone sound had an intentional demonic edge to it. Fine, I get it. It’s the devil. But EVERY phone in the movie has the same ringtone. What’s worse is that the characters don’t react to it at all. If my phone rings like that, I’m raising eyebrows, I’m getting paranoid, and I’m not going near it until I’m armed with my crucifix and teddy bear.
Other than the random plot points shoehorned in every so often, the movie wasn’t a complete loss. Give it a look if you happen to see it on Netflix or your windows need cleaning and you’re too lazy to go to the store and grab some Windex.
Helmet and crayons are a must.