Private Coopersmith (Clint Howard) is a recently orphaned teenager in military school. His poor soccer skills and habit of crying frequently make him unpopular, and he’s often tortured by four really mean guys. On a cleaning detail in the school’s chapel cellar, he discovers a boatload of Satanist paraphernalia. With a combination of black magic and technology (if you can call a circa-1982 computer technology), he raises evil spirit Esteban. When the bullies push Coopersmith too far, he gives them what-for.
I hadn’t seen the movie since I watched it on T.V., around age eleven. I remembered it not being great, so this time around I was expecting a crapfest. I was pleasantly surprised. The acting isn’t bad, the special effects aren’t terrible (aside from a decapitation in the first scene—the camera cuts away from what is clearly a living woman and returns to what is clearly a dummy), and it’s actually a little creepy at times. I also enjoy the juxtaposition of ancient evil and modern machinery—it adds a little twist to a prolific genre.
I like the character of Coopersmith. He’s whiny and a total goon, but he’s also cute and sweet (and Clint Howard was kinda pretty 40 years ago). I’m amused that Coopersmith starts performing a black mass, then ends up in the kitchen where he rescues a runty puppy, gets it settled comfortably, then returns to the black mass. His revenge scene is satisfying, but I was actually a bit shocked by the blasphemy. A statue of Jesus comes to life, and a nail flies out of its wrist and launches into the chaplain’s head. Then out comes Coopersmith, full of satanic power—but he’s floating and carrying a sword, like an avenging angel.
Of course the film has its silly points, too. For example the computer, by way of Esteban, giving Coopersmith instructions on doing evil magic. It tends to nag him when he doesn’t gather all the required ingredients: “Blood consecrated host/Data incomplete.” But overall it’s a decent watch. Give this one a look if you’re in the mood for Carrie with a computer.