Starring: Stefan Arngrim, Elizabeth Hoffman, Kathleen Rowe McAllen, John Holland
Directed by: Frank LaLoggia
Written by: Frank LaLoggia
Distributor: Scream Factory
Original Year of Release: 1981
Run Time: 99 minutes
In all honesty, I had never seen the title, let alone heard of the movie, Fear No Evil, before. I took note of the film solely because of its director, Frank LaLoggia. A few years ago, Shout! Factory’s horror label, Scream Factory, released his Lady in White, another film that had never been on my radar. I loved it. It has since become a perennial day-after-Halloween viewing tradition. So, I was definitely ready to take a chance on Fear No Evil, all for my love of the director’s previous work ( though chronologically, Lady in White came later).
Fear No Evil is set against the backdrop of Heaven and Hell. The devil, Lucifer, walks the Earth and three archangels are in charge of stopping him. The catch is that each time these angles do stop Lucifer, he is reborn and the chase begins again. The angles live out their lives searching not only for Lucifer, but for their companions after their deaths. It’s an endless cycle, but one we are introduced to in the mid-1960s when Father Damon (the Archangel Raphael, played by John Holland) kills Lucifer. We learn in the aftermath that Father Damon is convicted of murder and dies in an asylum in the early 1980s. In this new decade, his counterparts, Mikhail (played by Elizabeth Hoffman) is now in search of the Archangel Gabrielle's new body. Unknown to them, Lucifer, born again18 years ago as Andrew (Stefan Arngrim), is just discovering his powers.
A somewhat strange setting for the film, but appropriate for the time, is high school. Andrew is the dark brooder loner and not in a James Dean way either. He’s smart, but perpetually alone and always on the outside. Mikhail, known to locals and the church as Margaret Buchanan, is shunned by many because of her allegiance to the convicted Father Damon. Where the film takes a turn is that Andrew is infatuated with Julie (played by Kathleen Rowe McAllen), who is, in fact, the Archangel Gabrielle (unbeknownst to her).
Frank LaLoggia crafts quite an interesting story and set of characters but neither had the screen time (or film budget) to really let loose. We are given a little backstory on Mikhail and Raphael, but the majority of the time is spent on Andrew. See, none of these celestial creatures remember who they are when they are reborn into human lives. They have dreams which call them to their purpose. This is how the Archangels find one another. With Andrew/ Lucifer, it is not dreams, but a driving force to make others do bad things. We see this in a slow outdoor montage of Andrew’s family home and how it goes from a happy place to shambles. We later see it happen, in full force, when Andrew is in gym class watching his classmates play dodgeball.
The film’s finale takes place during a local production of the Passion Play and literally, all hell breaks loose. The play becomes a bloody affair when Andrew calls upon his minions (zombies) to arise and serve him. I found a lot to be intrigued by in this film. It was very different and the allegories between coming into power and puberty are on the nose. It is also best to point out that the film takes place in a different time where political correctness was not as prevalent as it is today. There are some very sexist moments when you get into the high school. It’s also best to remember that, at that time, you were more likely to see a high school student with a gun who slaps around his girlfriend and has overtly homophobic scenes in movies with little consequence to the perpetrator.
I enjoyed what I saw enough to get over the low budget aspects of some of the makeup used in the film. The zombies were great, Lucifer, in the flesh, well… less is always more. The appeal was with the larger, underlined story of what these Archangels were going through in a world that no longer believed in their existence, but still needed them just the same. That alone warrants Fear No Evil a recommendation.
FEAR NO EVIL Blu-ray Special Features:
- NEW interview with actor Stefan Arngrim
- NEW interview with special effects artist John Eggett
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Frank LaLoggia and cinematographer Frederic Goodich
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots
- Still Gallery
1080p 1.85:1, Rated R, Region A, DTS-HD Master Audio Feature Running Time: +/- 99 Minutes