REVIEW: 976-EVIL 2 (1991)

“Here is an ancient text that discusses 976-EVIL.”

976-EVIL 2: D-

Socrates: Glaucon, I have come across a mind-bending film called 976-EVIL 2. It tells the story of Spike, a wise-cracking motorcyclist, who finds himself entangled in a battle against a haunted jerk-off hotline. Have you encountered such a narrative?

Glaucon: Socrates, I am well aware of this film, but I have no experience with actual jerk-off hotlines – haunted or otherwise. I need you to accept this fact before we converse further. 

Socrates: Glaucon, I am your friend. I am perfectly willing to uphold your ridiculous jerk-off hotline denials and pretend that you are not a sick deviant so that we may discuss the film. 

Glaucon (sighs): Very well, Socrates… Where shall we begin? With the villain, perhaps? The story revolves around a teacher with, shall we say, “unsavory” tendencies who uses a supernatural jerk-off hotline to project himself onto the astral plane to commit heinous acts against blonde teenagers. Quite a distasteful premise, wouldn’t you agree?

Socrates: Indeed, Glaucon. And what do you make of this teacher’s preference for targeting blonde teens? Does it not raise questions about the origin of his motives and the depths of his depravity? Targeting this group so specifically speaks to pathological behavior often present in minds that dwell in the depths of sexual fetishes, like… your friend… whom we discussed at length while exploring the philosophical depravity of 976-EVIL, the genesis for this Satanic jerk-off hotline saga. 

Glaucon: Ah yes, my friend Epicurus who was ensnared in the unfortunate web of phone sex addiction back in 1988… A sad, sad tale that absolutely centered on his carnal jerk-off hotline impulses! I do not think this film is so complicated, Socrates. Perhaps the slaying of numerous young blondes is merely a cinematic choice fit for the genre, a means to generate suspense and shock value. After all, these filmmakers often rely on such cheap tactics to captivate the audience. If we suspend our disbelief to allow for an astral plane jerk-off hotline, why not suspend it further and accept the premise at face value?

Socrates: Perhaps, Glaucon. Yet, as the story unfolds, we encounter a multitude of unoriginal ideas and borrowed elements beyond the reuse of the demonic jerk-off hotline. The parallels to other films, such as Evil Dead 2 and Pleasantville, are evident and there is also a character who is a veritable carbon copy of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark with dyed blonde hair. Does this not suggest a lack of creativity and originality on the part of the filmmakers worthy of condemning this film?

Glaucon: Socrates, it is not uncommon for artists to draw inspiration from existing works; you know this. We’re talking about the filmmakers who are crafting a feature film around a magical jerk-off hotline! And besides, there are new and exciting ideas in this film: Spike is haunted by phones; they ring wherever he goes! There is a scene where they manage to blow up a truck! How did they get the money for this, Socrates? Let us not forget about when Spike kills himself so he can infiltrate the astral plane and combat the evil blonde-killing teacher. 

Socrates: Indeed, Glaucon, what you speak is true. I will concede that this is the first film I have seen in which a teen suicide leads to the creation of an anti-jerk-off phone sex ghost. I am willing to give this film a D-.

Glaucon: Agreed!

REVIEW: 976-EVIL (1988)


976-EVIL (1988): D

Socrates: Glaucon, can you guess the reason I had selected 1988’s 976-EVIL for us to view tonight?

Glaucon: I’m not sure, Socrates. 

Socrates: Another question, then: We have been roommates for some time, yes?

Glaucon: For many years Socrates.

Socrates: And do you remember in 1988 when our phone bill was inordinately high due to some mysterious charges for numerous hours with 976 numbers? 

Glaucon: I… well… we’ve – we’ve been over this, Socrates! Epicurus was the one who called those numbers, not me! I would never –

Socrates: Ah, Glaucon, see how you jump to your own defense so suddenly?! Are you certain it was not you who sought the forbidden knowledge these numbers promised? Might it be that “Epicurus” is but a figment of your imagination, a veil you employ to conceal your own transgressions? How is it I’ve never met him? 

Glaucon: Socrates, I assure you, my words ring true. Epicurus was a dear friend who became ensnared in the siren’s call of those seductive digits. I merely bore witness to his unfortunate descent! I would never –

Socrates: Pray Glaucon, let us not dwell on your sexual perversions any longer! I tire of this pitiable game and, quite frankly, feel sickened by your lies. Rather, let us delve into the nature of this film, 976-EVIL, if you are able to calm yourself and suppress your temper, that is. The title suggests a connection to those infamous phone sex lines from the past. Yet, it appears that the movie does not explore many sexual connotations. Why do you think there is a misalignment between the film’s title and its content?

Glaucon: Perhaps the filmmakers sought to entice viewers with the allure of the supernatural, Socrates. For example, they may have intentionally employed the misleading cover art – the long-haired devilish phantom on the cover – to captivate the audience’s attention.

Socrates: Ah, so you believe that the movie manipulates the viewers’ expectations through deceptive marketing strategies! But let us explore the actual premise, unless you believe it will inspire you to become too aroused for speech. 

Glaucon: Aroused?! How dare you! I happen to – 

Socrates: Curb your violent lust, Glaucon, and recall with me how the film portrays a scenario where calling the titular number leads to encounters with Satan and the acquisition of demonic powers. Is this portrayal effective in creating a sense of tension and intrigue?

Glaucon: I don’t believe so, Socrates. The execution falls short of expectations. The movie predominantly focuses on building suspense between each kill, failing to establish a strong connection with the characters while more attention is paid to subtle changes in make-up effects for the accursed lead. The premise itself appears rather foolish and lacks the desired impact.

Socrates: Glaucon, I cannot help but sense a touch of guilt behind your eyes while you discuss this film centered on a haunted phone sex line, as if the dark secrets of Epicurus might be none other than a shadow cast by your own actions.

Glaucon: Socrates, I beseech you to believe my words. Epicurus, is a creation of imagination? Is the embodiment of another’s transgressions? These are foolish theories. I stand blameless in this tale of 976 numbers and was but a concerned observer while my dear friend destroyed himself. 

Socrates: Denial is the enemy of the philosopher, Glaucon as it conditions us to avoid confronting the truth. Now let us reflect on the implications of the film’s ridiculous plot. The protagonist, a rather abused nerd, succumbs to the allure of 976-EVIL and seeks vengeance against his tormentors. In doing so, he becomes a vessel for evil as we see the consequences of dialing those sinister and expensive numbers. The deaths by claws and spiders and the possessed room reminiscent of the most famous scene from Evil Dead 2 are most memorable. These are the elements that shape the narrative, but still, the question remains—what dark subtext lies hidden beneath the surface? Can we discern any philosophical lessons from this narrative if we delve deeper?

Glaucon: It appears to be a simple cautionary tale, Socrates, warning against the temptations of power and the consequences of surrendering oneself to darkness and phone sex-related temptations. The film conveys the notion that the pursuit of revenge can lead to the loss of one’s soul and the realization of the futility of violence.

Socrates: Indeed, Glaucon, there is wisdom in your interpretation! Revenge, it seems, is a path that ultimately leads to one’s own destruction. However, I cannot help but notice a peculiar connection between the film’s themes and the experiences of your “friend.” Might there be more to the cautionary tale here? Could it be that the movie indirectly alludes to the perils of indulging expensive sexual telephone activities that affect one’s roommates?

Glaucon: Socrates, while the film’s portrayal of the consequences of phone sex addiction is gripping, I assure you that my involvement in such matters is purely observational. My dear friend was to blame for the phone bill. I believe we are again drifting from our philosophical purpose by dwelling on –  

Socrates: Then it is settled, Glaucon. 976-EVIL, while quite lackluster in its delivery, begs us to consider the consequences of indulging in hours of phone sex at the expense of our loved ones. Our souls hang on the precipice while our late-night exploits – like the ones of your… friend – prove to be more costly than beneficial. I am glad to see we agree so fully and hope you will seek professional help for your embarrassing sex addiction, before we discuss the sequel, Glaucon.