Written by Brian Helgeland & Rhet Topham
Directed by Robert Englund
Aunt Lucy...Sandy Dennis
Simple-minded teenager Hoax is picked on and abused both at home and at school, his only ally being his leather-jacketed greaser cousin Spike who lives in the guest house above his garage like a latter day Fonzie. But Spike can't be there to protect him all of the time, so Hoax takes matters into his own hands.
Calling a horoscope hotline seems innocuous enough, but the number (976-E-V-I-L) should have tipped Hoax off that dialing in may not have been such a great idea. Before long, he's been instilled with some pretty dark and impressive forces that allow him to exact a gruesome revenge against his tormentors.
Certainly not a great film, 976-Evil is elevated beyond its mediocre status by a strong sense of nostalgia felt by those of us who grew up religiously watching films like this when they were originally released. Stephen Geoffreys as Hoax is a particular highlight, as he perfectly embodies the weak and the bullied--probably because he had so much practice with the part during his own high school days. Many of us horror fans were bullied ourselves during our school years, or at the very least made to feel like social outcasts because of our interests, so it's no wonder that this movie has remained something of a cult favorite as Hoax is acting out the revenge so many of us were unable to act out ourselves.
Geoffreys, by the way, seemed all geared up to be a genre wunderkind in the 1980s with appearances in The Twilight Zone, Amazing Stories, and as Evil Ed in the original Fright Night. But shortly after this film, he took a sudden and unexpected detour into hardcore gay pornography, appearing in films such as the Transexual Prostitutes series, Leather Virgin, and the less-than-subtle Guys Who Crave Big Cocks under the pseudonyms Sam Ritter and Stephan Bordeaux. In 2007 he returned to genre fare with Sick Girl, and has been working erratically since.
EDIT: For the sake of fairness, it should be stated that Geoffreys' camp is stating that it was not him acting in gay porn for all those years, but was in fact his brother. There's a lot of debate about this on the internet, as there seems to be no proof that such a brother even exists. A good publicist could easily dissuade these rumors, simply by supplying a photograph of the two brothers together, but as of yet, no such photograph has surfaced. Regardless, I don't give a damn if Geoffreys is gay, straight or bi; or if he has appeared in porn of any variety. The fact of the matter is that he is a great character actor whose heyday never fully materialized for one reason or another, but here's to hoping that he's on his way to changing that. Better late than never.