VCI Home Video // 1987 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 4th, 2005
In 1987, a little movie forever changed the way we look at horror films about demon gods named Yog Kothag. That movie? Forever Evil.
In the mid 1980s, a group of college friends retreat to a remote cabin for a weekend of fun and debauchery. Well...this can't end well. And it doesn't. Each friend is systematically slaughtered by a malevolent, supernatural force (supernatural because its eyes glow red, malevolent because it rips babies out of pregnant women). The only survivor is Marc (Red Mitchell), who spends most his time in a psychiatric ward dealing with a generous helping of post-traumatic stress.
Eventually an old police officer named Leo (Charles Trotter) and a photographer named Reggie (Tracey Huffman) track Marc down and reveal that they have had similar supernatural experiences. The three are soon bound together in a quest to unravel the mystery of Yog Kothag, an ancient god who may or may not be returning to Earth to wreak general havoc.
But Yog has minions, and to put down the evil plot, Marc, Leo, and Reggie must use all the means at their disposal -- Marc's weird grappling hook invention, Leo's sour detective-face, and Reggie's godforsaken fashion sense -- to fend off such terrifying threats as a marauding zombie that won't die, fingertip lightning, and bad dreams.
This movie sucked when I rented it years and years ago on VHS, and it still sucks today on DVD. Actually, it sucks twice as much, since VCI has packaged a special two-disc edition of the movie: Disc One is the new "director's cut," which features a superfluous seven minutes of additional footage, and Disc Two sports the "home video premiere." Basically, there is no difference between the two cuts, aside from visual effects. Why VCI included the second cut is beyond me.
Anyway, Forever Evil is typical low-budget '80s horror that follows the straightforward kids-in-a-cabin formula, then adds lots and lots of tedium. The affair starts out promising enough, with our first kills happening within twenty minutes (after enduring some of the hokiest dialogue put to paper), and the hits are pretty gory. Eviscerated in the shower. Throat slashed and hung upside down. Sucked into a monster's mouth. Bludgeoned by an animate tree branch.
But then director Roger Evans slams on the brakes, and the narrative becomes a chatty whodunit populated by awful actors and more red herrings than a fishery. Evans loves the POV shots. The cabin sequence swarms with them, and following that he way overutilizes the gimmick. The camera sneaks up slowly on someone and...it's a dog! And now the camera is sneaking slowly up on someone again and...it's Marc! Please. And speaking of misdirection, how many times does Marc have to wake up from a dream sequence that we've just been duped into believing was actually part of the narrative?!
In addition there are some awful characters played by awful actors. Marc is okay, though his climactic metamorphosis into a bad-ass dressed like one of Fidel Castro's lieutenants is a bit much. His counterpart Reggie, though, is the worst. Tracey Huffman regularly butchers her lines -- not that the lines are much to begin with. My favorite: "It's not like I just woke up one morning and said 'I love Marc!'" And the costume designer for this film should be charged with some kind of crime against aesthetics; Reggie parades around most of the movie in too-big khaki high-waters and huge red sneakers. She looks like a Saharan circus clown.
But corny dialogue, cheap gore effects, and miserable acting are not necessarily a bad thing, as long as the Z-movie is entertaining enough. Well, somewhere within Forever Evil lurks a competent horror/cheese romp, but it's been buried under the two hour runtime. There is no reason why this movie needs to be two hours -- and trust me, you will feel every bloated minute of it. Hey, I'm all for burning zombies alive and a woman tearing her own baby from her belly (a cool effect I'll grant you) and a plot to resurrect an ancient god that's been banished to a quasar, but don't make me sacrifice 1/12th of my day to get there!
Both versions are presented in full frame, with the director's cut edging out the home video premiere in the looks department -- though not by much. Apart from some faded colors and the general aged look, the transfer is decent. The sound, on the other hand, is horrendous. You have your choice between a stereo or a 5.1 mix, and let me tell you it's not an easy choice. The center channel in the 5.1 sounds as if it were taped in a recording studio with bad acoustics. There is some discrete use of the surrounds, but the ambient sound is too bassy. And it's that cheap synth kind of bass, that rattles the walls and hurts your head. The soundtrack seems to have been taken from the Funeral Home Muzak Greatest Hits collection, and certainly doesn't help matters.
Apart from the useless second disc, the only notable extra is a commentary from director Roger Evans and writer Freeman Williams. I'll give them credit; it's a fun commentary, and the guys are self-deprecating and obviously connected to reality. They know full well how cheesy their movie is, and have a good time harpooning it.
You have no idea how appropriate it is to name this 120 minute trek Forever Evil. Only for the die-hard connoisseurs of two-decade old horror crap.
The accused is banished to Yog Kothag's Quasar of Doom, or whatever.
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: VCI Home Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Director and Writer Commentary
* Photo Gallery
* Bonus "Home Video Premiere" Cut