aka 976-EVIL 2 – The Astral Factor
93 min., 1991
Written by Erik Anjou/Rick Glassman
Directed by Jim Wynorski
My rating: ★★
Let the answering machine get this one…please!
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The second story in a world where a 976 number can grant demonic powers with dire consequences to a serial murdering university faculty member. His obsessive lusting after college co-eds including a psychologist’s daughter is only furthered by these powers until Spike returns to confront the new threat in a new town.
Let’s not mince words here. I couldn’t love this movie if I tried, and trust me, I did try. Even though the original film was done in the 80’s, this one seems far more dated by the clothes and hair styles than the original. I honestly do wish the wardrobe was the only problems with this film but there are also several other issues that no amount of clothing, make up, or props could fix. For this to be the second installment in this films history, it truly makes me regret that they didn’t leave well enough alone with the original. Spike, whom has no more than two other acting credits outside of the *976 Evil* series for obvious reasons, does a mediocre but far better job in this than the original. The constant overacting from his female counterpart and perpetual damsel in distress is a disgusting display but sadly on par with the continued overacting from
every member of the cast.
Our villain, played by René Assa, wouldn’t be so bad to tolerate if he wasn’t trying so hard to be a poor man’s Freddy Krueger. All of his one liners fall flat even though they are appropriate to the scene. His delivery comes off as condescending and sardonic rather than humorous and ironic. I really wanted to like him as a villain but just couldn’t get into his performance. Not to mention the 976 number that granted him this power could have just as well been replaced by a book since the power it granted
was that of astral projection. The last murder he commits, with his physical body that is, is witnessed by a lowly janitor, who they put in protective custody, and this lands him in jail as a murder suspect. From that moment on he begins astral projecting from his jail cell to take out anyone that might ensure that his stay in the U.S. Justice system is either a permanent one or ends in the death penalty. This sounds like an excellent plot for a film and as most people would see it, it is. However, this film should stand as a cautionary tale warning those of us that proper execution can not be substituted for a good idea.
I could start expanding these plot holes by pointing out things like Spike being the first one to investigate Mr. Grubeck’s house even though the cop that arrested Grubeck has thrown things and slammed his fist into a desk at several points in the film over his inability to nail Grubeck for these murders. Or that Robin definitively has warned her father the therapist, played clinically and emotionlessly by Rod McCary, but he seems not to be able to even give the smallest shit even when her “vision” is verified by
its real life happening. As a matter of fact, there really appears to be no reason for Spike to be in town other than this entities need to continuously taunt him or to find creative ways to kill him.
I realize I normally give a play by play as well as my opinions but this flaming bag of dog shit isn’t even worth ruining my shoes over to stamp out the details. The only things that kept this film from being a skull are: that the actress playing Robin, Ms. Debbie James, does a pretty decent job for this to be her first major motion picture, Spike seems to have a real personality as well as the good grace to die at the end, and finally, the hybrid footage from *It’s A Wonderful Life *being blended with N*ight of
the Living Dead* is one of the most awesome scenes in this film and doesn’t deserve to be just written off. Outside of those reasons, even though the special effects made me long to be in a room full of kids running with scissors as I sat Indian style with my eyes open, the makeup, practical effects, and set design get an A+ from me. There is also the deceptive marketing on the posters and DVD covers that have Hoax in the background behind Robin giving you the impression that his character has somehow
returned which in my opinion would have been enough to redeem this film allon it’s own just for him not to be found in a single frame of this dreck. I will hopefully be back next time with something far more entertaining. Until that time I hope all of your films bring fright but if you’ll excuse me I need to wash my eyes out with some Clorox.