976-EVIL II (1992)

In the early 1990s, Penthouse Playmates appeared in a lot of cheesy action and horror movies. This is one of those movies.

The plot involves a college dean using astral projection powers given to him by Satan via a telephone horoscope line to prey on busty coeds and seek revenge on the people who have helped put him in jail for being a serial killer. While he does this, a pretty college girl and a biker team up to take on the evil dean before he can kill everybody and then frame the pretty college girl for murder. He wants to do this so he can continue to astral project himself into her prison cell for the rest of her life because he’s totally hot for her. What? None of that made sense? Well, maybe the first film will help…

It doesn’t, folks. Believe me, I looked into it after watching this. Beside the returning biker hero character and the telephone horoscope to Satan, these movies are not linked. So while it feels like there must be a ton of back story, the movie figures you’ll just accept a lot of things, like that a pretty college girl and a dude clad in leather who looks like he hasn’t showered in weeks will get along and become friends almost immediately without having ever met before. Now the original 976-EVIL was directed by Robert Englund, which gives it a certain horror pedigree. But of the entire cast and crew, only the biker guy returned, so as far as continuity is concerned, well, just give up on it.

There are also numerous effects and stunt problems. Apparently someone decided that since they couldn’t get a proper green screen, a blue one would do. This means there is a blue shiny halo around anyone appearing in an effects shot for any of the astral projection scenes, which are a lot. The blue screen was also used for a sequence in which Satan apparently makes an AK-47 come off the wall and shoot things. While this sudden flying AK makes no sense, it’s actually made worse by bad effects because the angle and position it’s in would have actually caused it to clip through the wall, causing a weird perspective problem. The whole movie is littered with problems like these. And then there is a scene where the evil dean uses his satanic powers to cause a car to drive erratically, enabling you to see repeated shots of the actress’ stunt double in the car next to a stunt performer all dressed in black who is doing all of the actual driving. Yep, not even proper stunt work could save this movie due to bad shot setup. It’s amateur hour up in here, folks. Hey, look, the director also made The Lost Empire, so what can I say? To his credit, he thought the script was terrible and didn’t want to do it, but he did, and now I’ve suffered through it.

Is it all bad? Well no, there is one creative kill I enjoyed involving pulling a lady into a television version of It’s a Wonderful Life and then having it turn into Night of the Living Dead. Seeing Jimmy Stewart’s movie suddenly become a zombie apocalypse is a fantastic idea. It’s not well done of course, but it made for some good entertainment. Beyond that, this movie helped Howling II look well made, so there is that. That’s not a point in Howling II‘s favor, it’s just a knock on 976-EVIL II.

I may track down the original just because of Robert Englund, but I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone. It’s nonsensical and poorly constructed to the point that it’s pitiful.

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