Directed by Robert Englund. Hoax (Stephen Geoffreys) is a nerdy teen whose obsessively religious mother babies him. His rebellious (but protective) cousin Spike (Patrick O’Bryan)
discovers a hotline that delivers a “horrorscope”—couplets that generally urge people to do bad things, such as when Spike is told to steal a pair of gloves he wants and can’t afford: “A real man has the nerves to take what he deserves.” People are killed for not listening to the advice, or turned into demons if they do. Spike is able to resist, but Hoax is drawn in by the chance to get revenge on the bullies at school. He also accidentally kills Spike’s girlfriend Suzie (Lezlie Deane) after she rejects him. (I liked Suzie, but she had it coming if you believe in slasher movie justice—punishment by death for doing stuff teenagers aren’t supposed to do. In one scene, she and Spike have sex and smoke at the same time!) Meanwhile, reporter Marty (Jim Metzler) and his acquaintance Angela (María Rubell) are trying to figure out what’s going on. They team up with Spike to fight a now completely demonized (while retaining his wardrobe of sweater-vests) Hoax and send him to hell, where he belongs.
The film was a bit more relevant back in 1988, when people had hotlines for everything and used pay phones frequently. But it’s still true that phones are everywhere. It’s not too cheesy, as ‘80s movies go. There are a few disturbing moments, like when a boatload of tarantulas come out of Suzie’s T.V. dinner and attack her. The one-liners are even kinda funny, like when Hoax has killed two bullies and while brandishing their organs approaches their friends, who are playing cards. Indeed, the dispatching of his tormentors is quite satisfying.
I appreciate that Hoax uses a point-down pentagram for his Satanic rituals; most filmmakers (particularly in older movies) use point-up, which is really insulting to Wiccans—it’s like the difference between a right-side-up and upside-down cross to Christians. My gripes are few: Marty and Angela are pretty much useless and detract from the main story, and I grew bored with the long, drawn-out ending. But overall I enjoy it.