Director Jim Wynorski offers up a sometimes clever, but inferior follow up to the original Robert Englund film, that doesn’t really advance the narrative so much as it treads water. Rather than explore the themes of the apocalypse, and the eventual war of good and evil dictated by the hotline, we’re once again subjected to a tale about the hotline wreaking havoc.
A dean for a local college, named Grubeck, has given himself over to the horrorscope hotline after forming an obsession with local girls. Finally achieving his super powers from the hotline, he begins stalking former student Robin. Incriminated in the murder of a former student, Grubeck garners the power to astral project, and is able to shift reality and murder the people seeking to land him in jail. “976 Evil II” acknowledges the original film with the return of Patrick O’Bryan as Spike, but does little else to evolve the storyline.
Spike is being shown images of murders from his home town and is tasked with going back to the town to stop the new evil. Meanwhile sexy Debbie James, who plays Robin, has to figure out how to stop Grubeck. Given odd visions that can help her foresee the murders ahead of time, she tries to stop Grubeck’s reign of terror. Meanwhile, Grubeck is turned in to a goofy iteration of Freddy Krueger, becoming a sarcastic and clownish boogey man who can enter the realities of his victims and murder them. The murders are all fairly dull considering the chance for horrific kills this film has, thanks to its source material.
The original film was more of a darkly satanic revenge tale, while this one is merely an attempt to build a new horror menace. It never pans out because Grubeck’s powers are limited and kind of lame. We’re never told definitively what his powers and his limitations are, so he can basically do anything. We’re also never told what his goal is toward his manifestation as a demon. Surely, he wants Robin, but if it’s made clear she’s his villain, why does he persist in stalking her? “976-Evil II” has a lot of interesting moments, including the “Night of the Living Dead”/”It’s a Wonderful Life” mash-up, but overall it’s a pretty mediocre follow-up to a film that posed some creative ideas and concepts.