976-Evil is lumbered with a ludicrous concept the idea of a demonic 976 number. When it boils down to it, the film is only a variant on the standard Faustian pact story. However, the film never finds a way of making the idea work and most of it instead is spent in a series of choppy and not particularly coherent scenes with Steven Geoffreys as a demon and the house transformed into a zone of Hell.
What must be said is that Robert Englund does a halfway okay job. He captures the sense of aimless youths in a deadbeat town well. Here Patrick OBryan and Lezlie Deane give two reasonable performances he providing a moody rebellious handsomeness (imagine a more heroic James Dean) and she allowing her punkette character an inviting warmth. Even a usually terrible over-actor like Stephen Geoffreys, previously Evil Ed in Fright Night (1985) and later a gay porn actor, manages to play his wimp role believably. Although there are times when the balance of seriousness does topple over Sandy Denniss over-the-top performance being one of them.
Reportedly some sections of the film were touched up by another uncredited director so it is hard to know what is and is not Robert Englunds work. Expectedly the film is outfitted with various excruciating Freddy Krueger-styled one-liners Steven Geoffreys comes into a poker game, Can I enter the game with two hearts? and throws two bleeding hearts onto the table and then chops off a players hand, Now thats a real dead mans hand. The film is low on actual scares, although there is one good scene with Sandy Denniss cats feeding on her dead body. However, passable moments fail to save 976-Evil from the essentially ridiculous concept it is lumbered with.
The sequel was 976-Evil II: The Astral Factor/976-Evil II: The Return (1991), whose only point of connection with this was actor Patrick OBryan. The sequel was directed by the notoriously bad Jim Wynorski and featured a Satanically empowered high school principal killing people via astral projection.
It took Robert Englund nearly two decades before he went on to direct another film with the sinister house film Killer Pad (2008), which was not widely seen. Co-writer Brian Helgeland however did recover and go onto write a number of high-profile films including Assassins (1995), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Postman (1997), Mystic River (2003), The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009), Cirque du Freak: The Vampires Assistant (2009) and Robin Hood (2010), as well as directing Payback (1999), A Knights Tale (2001), the intelligently effective horror film The Sin Eater/The Order (2003), the true-life 42 (2013) about the first Black baseball player and Legend (2015) about the Kray Twins.